An Australian Pelican has had a second reprieve after being treated twice at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital. The Pelican was originally brought in as one of 32 that had been affected by an oil spill off Newcastle. It was placed in care at the hospital where Veterinary Nurse Liz Arthur supervised the lengthy clean-up to enable the pelican to fly again.
“We use special detergent to remove all the oil from the feathers. We have to get every last speck of oil off and make sure that none of the feathers are damaged. It’s also important that the detergent used is thorougly rinsed off as it can also leave the birds feathers water-logged ”, said Liz.
“After a period of rest and recovery, the pelican was released along with about four others and we were pleased to wave them goodbye.”
However a short 10 days later Liz was dismayed to see the same pelican brought back to the hospital, this time by concerned local residents who found it with both wings and one foot entangled in fishing line and also fishing line coming out from the bird’s bill.
X Rays confirmed that in trying to feed, the pelican had ingested interlocking fish hooks which would have had bait on them and these were now lodged in its gut.
A lengthy and difficult operation would be needed to be performed and the prognosis for the pelican was not good.
However, it came through the surgery very well and once again Liz Arthur supervised his care.
“This little guy has had a lot go wrong for him. We’ve worked hard to help him and can only hope that he’s second-time lucky when we release him back into the wild. We’ve placed an identification leg band on him that will identify him if he is sighted again in the future.
“We really need people to work with us, to be careful when they’re fishing and make sure they take all the line, hooks and tackle home with them at the end of the day. Otherwise beautiful marine wildlife like this pelican get horrific injuries and, sadly, we can’t save them all.
Liz and the treating vet released the pelican once more this morning at Chinaman’s Beach, along with another bird that had received recent care. After a tentative few minutes, they both tested their wings by flapping at the water’s edge. Eventually both birds flew away.
Australian Pelicans are large water birds, widespread in the inland and coastal waters of Australia and new guinea. They prefer large water expanses and will generally follow available food supplies of fish and crustaceans.