Hampton Bays, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Imperiled young pelicans, native to hot climates, were blown off course. Instead of remaining south for the winter, they were rescued in Montauk, frostbitten and sick.
Now groups of veterinarians and volunteers are nursing the rare pelicans back to health.
Doug Kuntz and other volunteer wildlife rescuers are astonished. The months old pelicans were saved from near death when blown north to Montauk instead of south to Miami in gale force winds that their wings could not fight.
“Now it appears not only are they not where they belong but they have medical issues,” Kuntz said.
The pelicans, off course and sun-loving, were lost, freezing, frightened and hungry, were rescued by lobstermen and examined by East Hampton veterinarians. Then they were transferred to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays.
“Upon examination, we saw one bird had frostbite of its bill, pouch and foot. The other bird has bacterial infection. Both birds are being treated,” said Amanda Daley of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center.
The birds both had been tagged as babies to track their movements and history. After working with the North American Bird Banding program, a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey and Canadian WIldlife Service, it was determined the pelicans left their nest from a North Carolina island in July.
The pelicans became stranded here when cold weather hit. They were unable to find food.
It takes a community to help the healing.
“We have a wonderful set of volunteer fisherman. They’re out there, they have their own boats, and they bring us fish on a daily basis,” said Adrienne Gillespie of Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center. “Mackerel and herring seem to be their favorites.”
Once they are recovered, the Wildlife Rescue Center hopes to fly the birds south by airplane and release them to a rehab center in warmer climates.
Until then, vets and volunteers say every day is a unique adventure with the wayward Long Island guests.
The Wildlife Rescue Center is celebrating 20 years of nonprofit help to animals.