to rescue a pelican (or seagull, cormorant or other
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.)
If the bird is healthy, but is hooked or/and has a fishing
—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
—Unwind all the fishing line, checking to see
if any monofilament line remains and has cut into the
—If the bird is hooked, gently push out the pointed
barb, cut the barb and pull out the hook part.
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.
the bird has swallowed a hook, do not try to remove
it but call a wildlife facility.
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!
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: