I was taking pictures of shorebirds along the sea wall near the fishing pier when this pelican flew really close right over my head. I noticed his leg and wing were caught up in fishing wire. He could not straighten his leg back.
I was thinking he would cruise right by me but he landed just feet from me on the sea wall. He let me walk right up to him and take this picture with my phone. Notice the wire and sinker by his foot. I felt like he was telling me to help him. I told him to stay put and ran back to my car and drove over to the ranger station and reported it. He could still fly so there was no way I could have grabbed him and taken him over there. The lady said a ranger would be right over so I headed back to keep an eye on the pelican until someone got there.
When I drove back to the fishing pier, there were 2 rangers already there that were pulling a dead pelican out of the jetty. He probably got caught in the rocks with fishing line and couldn’t get out. The ranger said they spend a lot of time helping the birds that have fishing line on them. That’s why it’s so important for people fishing not to cut the line. Below are pictures of the signs at all of the fishing piers showing how to reel in a hooked bird and clip the line from the bird.
The rangers are experts at catching birds quickly and taking off all of the fishing line. This bird was cleaned up and released pretty quickly.This is not a part of their “day job” and they do it with a smile on their faces because they love the birds.
The pelican walked away, testing his wings before hopping toward the beach.
He flew down to the beach and stayed for a few minutes, preening before taking off. He’s one of the lucky ones. Many of them fly back to spoil islands and the fishing line gets tangled up in the mangroves and they can’t fly away and end up starving.
That was my little adventure at Fort Desoto recently. I was just glad the pelican didn’t fly away after I left to go get a ranger.
High up – loggerhead shrike, kestrel and a starling.
Great blue heron posing on a light post.
One I helped save and one I couldn’t. The first one was walking around on the pier. I had a bait fish in my hand and he walked right up to me. He was all tangled up in fishing line with a hook on his wing. I was able to borrow clippers and a nice man was able to grab him as I was giving him the bait fish. While he held the pelican I clipped off all of the wire and the hook. He seemed okay so we let him go. He gave me one last look and took of into the sunset. The other pelican was sitting on the ferry boat. His feet were tangled up in fishing wire but he was able to fly and took off.
I was able to head down to Fort Desoto for a quick walk before sundown in late October before the time changed. Now it’s dark after work. Can’t wait till April.
Look at that, a white pelican in the middle of the spoonbill and stork crowd. And, there are still a few coots left. Most of the coots flew north weeks ago.
I saw another white pelican swimming towards me. His wing looked funny.
It looks like he was a broken wing. When he flapped a few times, the wing was hanging down.
Is that why there are a few white pelican hanging around central Florida in mid-June? They knew their friend couldn’t fly any further so they stayed behind with him?
These three hung out together for a while feeding. I had heard the nature center at Circle B was keeping an eye out on him. He was finally caught and sent to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in St. Pete. I have heard he lost that wing and is now a permanent resident at the sanctuary. He was being spoiled and seemed to be doing well there. I’ll be visiting him soon. I guess now all of his friends can head back up north for the summer.
So here is the debate – should he not have been caught and allowed to live out his last few weeks free in the lake. Eventually he may have been eaten by an alligator with that bad wing. Or, was the right thing done to save him and remove the broken wing so he can live out many years being feed at the sanctuary. Spending his life with other injured white pelicans? They have a nice big pen with a pool to go swimming and get fed tasty fish every day. I have friends who have different opinions on the outcome. What do you think?
On another note, this morning I read an interesting post from guest blogger Scott Wittle on Arthur Morris’s site, Bird As Art. Scott is a photo birder that Arthur met recently in Trinidad. He had a very interesting opinion about whether you can be a birder or photographer or both at the same time. I felt like he was talking to me. I’m out looking for wildlife and hope I can get a decent picture to record it. I’m not always out looking for the perfect picture. You can read his post here http://www.birdsasart-blog.com/2012/07/10/scott-whittle-photo-birder/. Let me know your thoughts on which is you.