You can save a bird at the end of the fishing line. Do NOT cut him free and allow the bird to fly back to the mangroves, he will get trapped, be unable to free himself, and starve to death! Pelicans are magnificent waterbirds and interesting to watch. They’ve been around long before we came to Florida. They are nature’s children, too. Our Pelican population has been dwindling due to loss of habitat, our changing weather patterns, human disturbance and predators, which include invasive crows, and incidents and accidents with us humans. This is a lot to handle for a nonaggressive wild waterbird.
Never feed the seabirds, especially pelicans.
Feeding them catfish, and leftovers from cleaned fish, is dangerous as exposed bones can cause internal injuries all the way to the stomach. While they know not to eat catfish, they will catch a thrown catfish and swallow it. The fish then flares its spines and can’t be dislodged. Bones can even puncture the stomach. When a pelican catches a fish, it goes down intact and gets digested from the outside in. Also by feeding, the pelicans “learn” to follow humans for snacks and will annoy them by hanging around, possibly snatching a fish on the line, thus ingesting the hook.
Enter the dilemma and harm: an Ingested hook not tended to, can cause nerve, tissue and tendon damage; severe infections, starvation. All horrible deaths. If a bird has swallowed the hook, do not attempt to extract the hook yourself. Take it to the nearest veterinarian; in Bayshore Gardens: Bayshore Animal Hospital is the nearest rescue/clinic.
Hook extraction tips: Push hook through flesh until barb is visible. Next, with barb now showing, use your cutting pliers, (a common fishing tool) and cut behind the barb. Next, back hook out. Do not pull the hook out If the barb is still attached, serious tissue damage will occur.
Rescue tips: Snare the bird from head down. Tuck the wings next to its body by wrapping your arms around it. Covering its head and eyes will keep it calmer. Do Not hold bill closed, it cuts off their breathing. Place hand high on bill and use fingers to keep bill open; pointing beak away. We humans, at the top of the food chain, have a responsibility to be the purveyors of our natural world when we infringe on that world. This message was given with permission by Save Our Seabirds, Inc., who conduct educational programs to inform people of the problems wildlife is having with their misadventures with humankind and how people can minimize the impact on them and their habitat.
Save Our Seabirds, Inc., 708 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL 34236, 941-388-3010;
Submitted by Suzanna Young