Backyard Birds – Brown Pelican Rescue

Backyard Birds - Brown Pelican Rescue

In this special edition of Backyard Birds, we get up close and personal with a Brown Pelican in need of some help.

On Saturday, April 16, just before 4 p.m., Tiffany Hansen was kayaking in Cherry Creek Reservoir. As she made her way over to watch a Bald Eagle, she discovered a Brown Pelican at water level tangled up in a fishing line and lure. She paddled over and docked her kayak on the fallen tree. 

“As I paddled closer, the eagle flew away and the pelican tried to move, too, but couldn’t go anywhere. I still didn’t know what was wrong, but noticed only one wing was mobile. A good amount of line was tangled on the fallen tree in the water and still connected to the lure. The lure had two hooks with three barbs each. One of the hooks was stuck in the outer elbow of the wing. The other was stuck in two places— one in its lower eyelid, the other in the roof of its upper bill.

“I backed out the hook from its eyelid. I’m not sure what I was holding on to— maybe it’s head. Once the hook was out of the eyelid, I attempted to remove the one from inside the bill. I held the upper bill in one hand and stuck my other hand in to grab the hook. It didn’t budge. It was very stuck, so I pulled it down until it came out. I’m sure it ripped the inside of its bill, but I felt like it was the only way to remove it at this point, as I had no tools to cut it.

“Once the hook was out of the bill, it tried to flee, but I held its wing and it didn’t resist. I backed the hook out of its wing and immediately it flew away, staying close to the water. It flew about 50 yards or so and landed on the lake. At this time, I paddled away.”

Since then, observers have seen the pelican at Chatfield, flying back and forth, for at least a week.

Brown Pelican tangled in fishing line while a Bald Eagle perches above
Tiffany Hansen kayaked over to get a closer look at a bald eagle and discovered a Brown Pelican tangled in fishing line | Photo by Tiffany Hansen
Brown Pelican tangled in fishing line | Photo by Tiffany Hansen
Brown Pelican tangled in fishing line | Photo by Tiffany Hansen
The fishing lure that Jennifer Hansen removed from the pelican | Photo by Jennifer Hansen
The fishing lure that Jennifer Hansen removed from the pelican | Photo by Jennifer Hansen

Your contributions write this column. Thanks to all who send in these intriguing reports. Send a note or post card to P.O. Box 584, Franktown 80116, or Email Hugh Kingery at ouzels8@aol.com.

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