The L-shaped bundle was giving Kelly Beavers trouble as she maneuvered it carefully toward a plastic crate in the lab at the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach.
A pair of webbed feet began kicking under the white sheet that she cradled in her arms. A long beak, which Beavers gripped tightly with one hand, thrashed about as well. Looking around the crates, which had been manufactured for dogs but were housing pelicans Tuesday afternoon, she opted for one that was small enough to hold a single, hot-tempered bird.
“I want to put her in there, because she’s got an issue,” said Beavers, a wildlife technician at the center.
With the bird still fidgeting, Beavers eased it inside, then pulled off the sheet that had covered nearly its entire body and prevented it from seeing any of the humans present. An instant later, she locked the crate and draped the sheet over it. The 12 pelicans and one cormorant that were set to be released Tuesday in Corona del Mar had arrived at the center sick and starving, and the staff had spent the last two to three weeks nursing them back to health. Still, Beavers said, that didn’t quell the birds’ fear of people.