Yep, you read it right … a pelican.
As I rubbed around the wound it occurred to me that this didn’t-see-that-one-coming experience is the story of my life. Any time I try to do something good, another little something creeps up behind to take a chunk out of my backside. You’d think I’d learn my lesson ….
So how exactly did I find myself dabbing a towel on my bloody calf from a pelican bite?
In the days after the BP oil spill began pumping into the Gulf of Mexico, I joined the chorus of outraged American citizens sputtering at indignation over news reports and tweeting my anger about the situation onto Twitter. Because we now live in Florida along the Gulf coast, the news coverage was particularly intense.
So when a local seabird sanctuary put out the call on the evening news for donations and volunteers, I decided to stop whining and get off my duff to do something about it. I called friends to collect donations. I tweeted for Tampa area Twitter users to answer the call. I drove over to the sanctuary and got trained to treat baby birds.
Along the way I discovered the baby bird poop that always manages to find its way onto your hands, your hair and your shoes really isn’t all that bad. The baby bird formula smells funny, but not quite as bad as a dumpster of rotting garbage. The raw ground beef you have to break into little pieces gets stuck (like permanently) under your nails. And I really do have a thing about worms.
But, the truth is there is something very “zen” about coaxing injured baby birds to eat and then watching them fight to stay awake as their bellies fill.
You have to concentrate when you feed the babies. They have a tendency to hop around. Some of them will try to fly. And if you aren’t focused on blocking the open cage door with your body – carefully balancing your cup of formula, dish of meat pieces and feeding utensils while the little ones hop, jump and fall all over your arms – you’re going to end up with at least one baby bird tumbling out onto the floor.
With all that, it’s actually pretty easy to miss the medium-sized-dog of a pelican creeping along the floor, head cocked to the side as it examines where to strike, until said fly-boy is chewing on scraps of your skin.
I managed not to scream (too loud). I managed not to kick the pelican (just barely). I even managed to smile at fellow volunteers as the blood began to well.
And I did discover a valuable addition to my library of wisdom – pelicans bites do hurt….and pelicans, for good or for ill, think I’m tasty.