One month of care and healing for this White Pelican is very visible. Photos by Angie Trumbo – International Bird Rescue
What a difference a few weeks of care can make!
In mid-December 2019, this young male American White Pelican was found in a Long Beach parking lot, cold and anemic, with a huge wound across his back and a small pouch laceration. We suspect he may have been struck by a vehicle. He was brought to our Los Angeles Wildlife Center where our team members assessed the pelican’s condition and provided him with IV fluids and tube feedings to stabilize his condition.
His major injury involved the skin of his back over his shoulder blades, which had been ripped off completely, with a deep scab covering the whole area. Part of our assessment included finding out if the bones of this bird’s shoulders were damaged in a way that would impact his future ability to fly, and our veterinarian currently doesn’t think so. Pelicans are such good healers that we are hopeful that the muscles and other structures needed for flight in the wound zone will continue to heal well. Usually, once pelicans regain their enthusiasm for eating, they can heal surprisingly severe wounds with help from their caregivers.
Since his intake, staff members have been regularly cleaning and dressing the pelican’s large wound, and now, after several weeks of care, it is showing great improvement! The pelican is also proving to be a voracious eater and (see video) has already gained over 1,800 grams since he arrived! We currently feed pelican patients Peruvian Smelt, which typically costs $1.50/lb, and this particular patient can eat about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of fish a day. Fish choices for our patients are a balance of quality, availability, palatability, nutritional needs of current patients, and cost.
In addition to responding to oil spills around the world, International Bird Rescue staff work to care for birds impacted by lesser known threats like natural oil seeps under the ocean, algal blooms, marine debris, and extreme weather. We use this blog to share stories from the field and from the two California-based bird rescue centers we manage. We hope you enjoy this window into our world—we are truly passionate about caring for birds, and know that our community shares this passion. We could not do this important work without your ongoing support!