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How to Rescue a Pelican

How to rescue a pelican (or seagull, cormorant or other seabird)

....a. If the bird is acting weak — a normally healthy pelican will not let you approach closely, but a weak one will be docile:
— Grasp the bill with one hand, firmly enough to keep it closed but not tightly;
— With your other hand, scoop the bird up, holding the wings close to the body.
— Place in a box large enough for the bird's body/tail feathers length — with air holes — and call and transport to a wildlife care facility (see
Resources for Central and Southern California list
of licensed facilities.)

....b. If the bird is healthy, but is hooked or/and has a fishing line attached:
—If he is in the water, slowly reel in the bird, scooping him up with a fishing net;
—Cover his head with a towel so as to calm him;
—Grasp his bill gently but firmly — restrain him with his wings against his body, keeping his head covered;
—Unwind all the fishing line, checking to see if any monofilament line remains and has cut into the bird;
—If the bird is hooked, gently push out the pointed barb, cut the barb and pull out the hook part.

Check the bird carefully for any additional line and then release him carefully to the place found or the water IF there are no possibilities of it being rehooked. Otherwise, call a wildlife care facility for pickup and release elsewhere.

If the bird has swallowed a hook, do not try to remove it but call a wildlife facility.

Notes: The pelican will be frightened; talk softly, be gentle and keep dogs and, if possible, people away. Weakened pelicans may have avian lice — the presence of lice is an indication of weakness when a bird can't or doesn't have the energy to preen; lice are a nuisance to the rescuer but they do NOT bite people!

In Santa Barbara, please call the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network at 966-9005 if you are seeking help with an injured pelican or other wild animal. If you see mistreatment of a seabird or need help in the Santa Barbara harbor area, please call the Harbor Patrol, 564-5530.

Quick reference pdf for rescuing pelicans: click here

http://pelicanlife.org © Betsy Robertson Cramer, 2004, all rights reserved.
Contact: info@pelicanlife.org