Pelicans released in Seabrook [update]
Fattened up and fit once again, four pelicans who sat out much of the winter at Houston's Wildlife Rehab & Education Center were released back to the wild over the weekend.
Click here to see photos of their release.
The rehabbers who'd been nursing the once-emaciated and parasite-ridden birds set them loose Saturday morning in Seabrook under the Kemah Bridge.
Wildlife Rehab's executive director, Sharon Schmalz, says all four of the birds came to the non-profit clinic at the end of December or first of January in pitiful shape. Because of the cold nights, many fish had fled to deeper waters, leaving the birds with little to sustain them and making them vulnerable to injury and illness.
The four patients:
A young pelican was found in Kemah's Home Depot parking lot with a broken wing. He may have been hit by a car, or perhaps he clipped a power line, and he needed antibiotics, bandages and fish.
A pelican with frostbit feet was rescued on Clear Lake by someone in a dinghy. He's still limping, but the rehabbers say he'll survive now that he's healthy again. Thanks to lots of fish.
A sickly pelican hanging out at the historic tall ship Elissa in Galveston had to be rescued. His doctors think he was probably so hungry he tried to eat something unwise that got stuck in his throat -- perhaps a bony catfish head? -- causing an infection in his pouch. He needed antibiotics. And fish, course. "Lots and lots of fish," says Schmalz.
A thin and hungry pelican became stranded on the fifth-floor balcony of a condo in Houston, too weak to fly. Again, a recovery fueled by the medicinal powers of fish.
With parasites vanquished, each of the pelicans has been eating 4 to 6 pounds of smelt and sardines every day, Schmalz says.
"We've spent at least $1,000 on fish for these guys."
See Wildlife Rehab's video of its initial pelican inspection.
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