Okanagan pelican takes flight with his flock for the first time in months - InfoNews

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Okanagan pelican takes flight with his flock for the first time in months

Peli is on his way back to normal life.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Cathy K, WRA Volunteer
May 21, 2020 - 8:30 AM

An endangered American White Pelican that was separated from its flock when it was entangled in a fishing line hook during a stop in Oliver last October has been reunited with its flock.

"Peli stretched his beautiful feathers and observed his familiar grounds before plunging into Puntzi Lake to reunite with his flock. Thank you to all of you who helped make this story possible," Wildlife Rescue volunteers and staff said in a statement.

The bird was en route to California from Williams Lake when it stopped at Tuc-el-nuit Lake in Oliver and suffered a severe injury to its left wing including multiple punctures and a large tear in the skin above the elbow and required long-term treatment.

The Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C., with the help of donors, invested in all that was needed to make that happen and for the last seven months they’ve nursed it back to a condition that will allow it to reunite with its flock.

“These types of situations are challenging because of the specialized care and treatment facilities needed. Pelicans are large-bodied birds with small legs and feet. They are designed to be floating on water not walking or sitting on hard surfaces,” Janelle Stephenson, Wildlife Rescue Hospital manager said, in a press release.

“Our local climate was one of the largest challenges. We adapted by setting up an indoor heated pool to mimic his natural winter environment.”

Stephenson said the pelican stayed in that pool as staff spent countless hours managing his wound, infection, nutrition, and waterproofing of his feathers.

“He took months to recover from his initial injury,” she said.

“Once healed and as the weather warmed, he acclimated to our local climate where he learned how to fly again in a larger outdoor enclosure.”

When biologists from Williams Lake recently spotted the migratory flock return to one of their breeding grounds at Puntzi Lake, they realized it was a good time to move to the next stage.

 During the spring and summer months, flocks migrate to the Williams Lake area of B.C. – the only witnessed breeding ground in Canada. In the fall, they head for warmer climates in California and further south.

An endangered species, American White Pelicans are large water birds that make their homes on isolated lakes and shallow wetlands and enjoy private islands for nesting. Their webbed feet are made for excellent water ski landings and strong swimming, the association said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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