Juvy squirrels never end with their surprised/unsure expressions when I photograph them. I love it. This guy and a few others are the last of the fall babies. Squirrels have two baby seasons--spring and fall. They will be released when the worst part of our winter is over--probably late February. Up to this age, they are friendly and inquisitive and see their caretakers as food sources. This size and beyond they begin acting like the wild animals that they are and practice chattering, fluffing and whipping their tails around, and yes, they will even bite. Cute as they are, they can cause some damage with those rodent teeth.
My pelican friend from the previous post was well enough to be transferred to another facility to be further rehabbed. The injuries he had, a broken wing and broken leg (probably from being hit by a boat on a local lake) were healed. We had done as much as we could for him and it was time for him to journey onward for further rehabbing. It was both and exciting and sad day--exciting because of the road trip, and sad that we were fare welling a unique and very handsome water bird.
Traci and I loaded up my van and headed south to Corpus Christi, to the Texas State Aquarium. They have an awesome water bird rehab program and Pel I. Can (a play on the Black Eyed Peas band member Will I. Am) was a prime candidate for what they had to offer.
After 3 hours in a really large crate, he was read to stretch his wings. We left him in the rehab room while his enclosure was being readied and we were taken on a 'behind the scenes' tour of the aquarium. I have to say, though I love the water and coast, it takes A LOT to house and take care of those animals. The employees make it look very easy. (I will post photos of the animals we saw another time.)
Here's Traci letting him out of his crate into his new enclosure. The really cool thing is the pool--it's about 6" shallow and goes to about 4' deep. Perfect for him to exercise his now healed broken leg.
He walked back and forth for several minutes, checking out the whole water set up. He's been dry-docked for almost 2 months and we knew he would really want a nice long bath. Until he was comfortable with the area, he walked around, intermittently checking the depth of the water with his bill. At one point he walked up beside Traci as if to ask if it was ok to go swimming.
He was given frozen fish to eat as he'd been denied breakfast to cut down on possible transport sickness. He eagerly walked up on the pan of fish but quickly rejected the fish as they were on ice and very cold. Traci began to toss the fish to him and he caught the first few but spit them out quickly as he realized how cold they were. (at the sanctuary, he was fed live fish, so the cold was a much different feeling for him.) Soon though he finally swallowed one and from then on feeding him was easy.
Traci took this fabulous action photo. I've never spent time with a pelican and smiled the entire time I spent with him.
He finally jumped into the water and the rest was history. He swam around the deep end, checked out the shallow end, and then bathed for a good 15 minutes.
Have you ever seen a pelican smile? You have now. (click on any photo for a larger version.)
So we said our good-byes knowing he was in the right place and that we had done a good thing bringing him to the coast. Plans are to get him water proofed and flighted and released a little ways from the aquarium where a permanent flock of American White Pelicans live. Thank you Debbie, Kelly, and Sarah for taking him under your collective wings.