The Pelican Story

The article is titled, “Help for Big Bird”

“Two Canadian officers proved man can give nature a hand – if not a pelican a wing – in Montana last October.

The story began in the spring when a flock of migrating white pelicans stopped for rest and food on the northern stretches of the Missouri River.

During their stay someone shot away half the left wing of one of the beautiful and majestic birds, which was then unable to continue its flight north.  The bird’s mate stayed with him for awhile after the rest of the flock had gone, and then she too flew northwards.

The injured bird apparently stayed calm during and after the ordeal of the shooting, and made himself a home on a small island in the middle of the river.  There he was protected from weather, able to find food in the surrounding water and to survive the summer in good health.

In the fall the pelican flock returned to the area on its migration south and found the invalid swimming in the river and flapping his one good wing as though attempting flight.  Once again the flock stayed for a few days and then left the injured one behind.

At this point a workman for the Burlington Northern Railroad who was aware of the pelican’s plight wrote to the local newspaper.  He told the story of the bird and expressed fear that the pelican would die in the severe winter weather of northern Montana.

Capt. J. M, a Canadian assigned to the 24th NORAD Region in Great Falls, Montana, read about the bird and decided to help it.

A few days later he and Capt. J. M, also a member of the Canadian Forces, entered the river in a canoe in an attempt to capture the pelican.  But they soon found that the bird’s broken wing didn’t hinder its swimming ability.  The men were unable to catch the pelican as it swam upstream through strong currents as though taunting them to ” Catch me if you can!”

Weary from the pursuit, but not disheartened, the two Canadians went back to the river the next day, but with a small motorboat.  This time they succeeded in capturing the bird after each had taken a few bruises and scratches from its powerful beak.

They then took the pelican to Great Falls and kept it overnight in a pool behind ______’s house.  The officers also tried to feed it trout, shrimp and smelt, but without success.

Next day the Montana Fish and Game Department were informed of the pelican’s capture and officials took the bird to the State Game Farm in Warm Springs and placed it in a sanctuary for injured wild fowl.

There the big bird provides enjoyment for visitors and lives a protected life because of two men who were concerned enough to act.”

Pelican 1

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