Baby pelicans that were washed from their nests on the Chandeleur Islands two weeks ago — too young to fly or feed themselves — had a long way to paddle before they landed on the beaches of Harrison and Hancock counties.
They were in bad shape.
Alert beach-goers during Tropical Storm Cindy called for help and the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center from Jackson County collected the young, injured birds for several days.
The center wound up with 20 that had an array of injuries and medical issues. Three died and two had to be euthanized as a result.
But 13 were moved to rescue and rehabilitation centers in Alabama and Florida — the focus of support and attention, and even a fundraiser by a brewery in Fairhope, Alabama, that has a pelican on its logo.
Alison Sharpe, director of the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center, knew they would be overwhelmed by the young, hungry pelicans that would need months of care and feeding. She contacted the Environmental Studies Center, part of the Mobile Public School system, and they took eight.
On Wednesday, the Studies Center said it had gotten a lot of community support for the babies — both cash donations and volunteer help — including the brewery fundraiser.
Sharpe delivered five to the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida in Pensacola on Monday.
“They came in pretty beaten up,” Sharpe said. “They were dehydrated and had to be de-wormed and given fluids.”
The young birds had to paddle the distance from the islands to the mainland, fighting the winds and rain from TS Cindy, and had swollen legs and ankles.
It wound up that two were too sick or damaged to move right away.
Sharpe said they still have them. One has an ulcerated eye and may never be released to the wild again. The other has pneumonia, but when it is strong enough, likely will go to the Pensacola sanctuary that routinely works with orphaned wildlife as part of its mission.
None of them were in great shape at first, but they are making great strides, workers at the Mobile center say.
Sharpe said the Florida sanctuary is a pelican’s dream.
She said, “They have a phenomenal place over there.”