An adult female Brown Pelican with a severely torn pouch was admitted into care at the International Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles Wildlife Center in San Pedro on Sept 20, 2019. The bird’s pouch was laid open on both sides up and back onto her neck, completely cut loose from the rest of her mouth. Although she survived the initial injury, she was starving to death because she was unable to eat.
Luckily, rescuers found the pelican and brought her to our friends at Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network who then transferred her over to us where she could undergo surgery to repair her pouch.
The cause of this bird’s injuries are currently unknown, but it appears that her pouch must have been caught on something that necessitated ripping to get loose. Fishing gear is such a common problem in this species that our suspicion is that she got caught on a hook.
Despite the severity of this bird’s wounds, our successes with past patients with similar injuries, like Pink the Pelican, give us confidence for a positive outcome for this patient. Our veteranarian, Dr. Rebecca Duerr, spent 2.5 hours repairing the worst of the injuries to the middle and right side of her pouch and neck. The bird was so weak that Dr Duerr decided to leave the left side for later repair rather than putting her through another 1+ hour of surgery. Consequently, the left side is stapled closed right now, and a second procedure will be scheduled soon, after she has regained her strength.
Stay tuned for more updates on this critical patient!