Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What to do?

Yesterday, I discovered a birding area just south of the dam. Doublehead Resort is nearby, which was the purpose for my trip. However, upon arriving noticed a North Alabama Birding Trail sign pointing past the resort. Knowing it couldn't be very far, plus I was early, plus I had my camera (any excuse will do), I kept rolling southward toward the bird trail.

The area is just opposite the resort in a sheltered wetland. Cattails and grasses indicate shallow waters perfect for birds and other creatures. I spotted the typical cast - egrets and great blue herons. Then, to my utter surprise, two white pelicans floated into view. Shaking with excitement and yelling for joy I turned around and headed for my appointment, vowing to return afterward.

The resort owners were not surprised by my discovery of the white pelicans, but were surprised that two remained behind. They normally migrate north in the late winter/early spring. Following our appointment I returned to the birding area and began taking photos, observing them through the zoom lens. I can see why they're here. One has a broken wing. It has since healed but clearly he/she cannot fly. The other pelican may also be injured, or may be the injured pelican's mate.

I watched them for a long time and took photos until a rain cloud sent me scurrying for the safety of my car. The pelicans seem fine. This shallow water grants them good fishing. The waterway is narrow, which means no fast boats or jet skis. It is quiet, and their friends are there, tons of herons and the egret, no doubt some ducks and coots as well. There are no alligators here, but the usual predators are - foxes, coyotes, dogs, etc.

I sent my wildlife specialist a note and photos, asking for his opinion. Should they be rescued? Should they simply remain? What is the best thing to do for these glorious birds? I have an affinity for white pelicans. It's like seeing a grizzly bear, or antelope, or bighorn sheep, any creature that you've always read about and dreamed about - then there it is, right in front of you. Proof that the earth breathes and all things are truly connected. When my friend answers I'll update my blog but in the meantime if any of my birding friends have some sage advice to share I would very much appreciate it.

NOTE: As I was writing and posting this my TVA friend answered my e-mail. Here's what he said: "Both of these birds are injured. One of them has been present about 6-8 years now. The second one showed up about 3 years ago. They are male and female, but I have seen no sign of mating activity…injured birds typically don’t try to mate. They do just fine, still have no problems finding food, and seem to enjoy each other’s company."


Deborah Carr said...

It's hard, though, isn't it...when you want to protect and fix what is broken? But how beautiful that these two birds have found each other and a relatively safe space to share. I love the specialist's comment..."enjoy each other's company". This touches me deeply.

And how sad that the resort owners are unaware of their story playing out around them.

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Wow! Very cool. Nice photos!

Eve said...

That is such a great story Debi. It's really nice to hear that they have been there that long so seem to have found their niche. It's really nice that they have each other! Thanks for sharing this one!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the birds will be okay. So glad to hear that!

The Garden Ms. S said...

I can't believe how moved I am by this story. Beautiful.

Beautiful pics too!

Bird Girl said...

Oh...this is like finding gold! A new birding trail and then these pelicans! The last image has such gorgeous composition and the driftwood on the left with two posing pelicans and one stretching wings - you should frame this picture!!!
I'm so happy that these injured birds can live a happy life in spite of thing. It's a good lesson for us all!

wcgillian said...


This is a really good story and the photos are pretty darn good to! Working on the North Slope I really
appreciate birds more and more everyday.


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