The story of a pelican named Peter began and ended on a portion of the Orange County coast where, in the fall of 1982, almost two dozen of the great ocean birds were found with their upper beaks hacked partially or completely off.
All of those mutilated birds died despite efforts of veterinarians, but it was different for Peter. On Thursday afternoon, Jim Krause, of the animal care center operated by the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program in Anaheim, waded into the surf and set Peter down on a wave-washed rock at the base of Dana Point’s main bluff.
After a few moments the bird stretched its four-foot wings, waggled its tail feathers and took off into a stiff breeze, soaring high above the cliffs, heading up the coast until out of sight.
“He’s going to make it,” Krause said.
Peter had been found May 12 lying, barely alive, on a beach near Monarch Bay, less than two miles up coast from Dana Point Harbor where most of the mutilated pelicans had turned up in 1982. The unidentified couple who came upon him took him to Dr. Larry Wahl, at Crown Valley Animal Hospital, where coincidentally many of the beak-damaged birds had been treated.
Wahl said he could find no injuries, only signs of malnutrition, and Peter was transferred to the NOCROP facility where he was given medication and put on a careful feeding program.
Thursday he was back with the wind and the sea.