Rare to Northeast Ohio, pelican receives treatment at LENSC

Lake Erie Nature & Science Center's Wildlife Director Dave Wolf shows the black-edged wing on an American White Pelican patient that's on the mend in the Center's Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program.

A beautiful American White Pelican, one of the largest birds in North America, is showing improvement in Lake Erie Nature & Science Center’s Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Program. This unusual patient, rarely seen in Northeast Ohio, was rescued from the Cuyahoga River on Jan. 19 with a left wing injury.

Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator Amy LeMonds says an X-ray and veterinary exam revealed no fracture to the wing, so the bird has been treated for soft tissue injury. LeMonds reports that the pelican is doing well after a month of rehabilitation that also included treatment for dehydration and intestinal parasites. In fact, the big bird has gained almost three pounds as it consumes nearly four pounds of fish each day!

“The injury to the wing will likely require much more time to heal, but we are seeing improvement,” LeMonds said. “We’re now exploring the next step for this bird which may involve transfer to a specialized rehab facility closer to its natural migratory path. There are several possible outcomes, including release among other pelicans or possible placement as an educational animal, if it’s determined that the wing injury is permanent and prohibits a successful return to the wild.”

American White Pelicans are rarely seen in Northeast Ohio because the birds’ normal breeding range is the Northern Plains and Mountain West and they winter along the southern coasts. LeMonds says this pelican is a first for the nonprofit Center’s rehab program, which sees more than 1,000 injured animals each year.

The injured bird was initially discovered along the Cuyahoga River by four employees of ArcelorMittal: Bill Kost, Robert Kotyk, Paul McClendon and Dan Neace, who immediately called Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. ArcelorMittal honored its employees’ rescue efforts by joining the Center’s “Partners In Wildlife” program with a $500 charitable contribution. 

To see how this “star” pelican patient is faring for yourself, look for photos and a video "progress report" now posted on the Center’s YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/user/LENSCTube. Center Wildlife Volunteer Jamie Raible produced the video, which is also linked on the Center’s on the Center Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LakeErieNatureandScienceCenter. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.lensc.org or call 440-871-2900.

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 9:49 AM, 02.22.2011