Monday, June 22, 2015

Birds on The Line: Scoop the White Pelican

For today’s walk down the line I would like to introduce you to a bird that has a great nickname and seemingly loves to show off during our summer concert series.  This is none other than Scoop the White Pelican, or as he is nicknamed, “Super Scoop”.

Do you feel you’re being watched?  (photo: Cathy Spahn)

Scoop is an American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos.  He was rescued from a pond in West Alton, MO, near Ameren Missouri’s Portage des Sioux Energy Center in October 2004.  Scoop managed to survive for 3 months without the ability to fly.  He had to be rescued when winter weather approached.

Meet Scoop—sporting the distinctive “horn” on top of his bill which only appears during breeding season, and is then shed later in the year. (photo: Gay Schroer)

Upon examining Scoop our veterinarian, Dr. Stacey Schaefer, found the bird’s shoulder had been badly broken, healed improperly, and now required the tip of the wing to be amputated.  Scoop now has his home in one of our outdoor avian exhibits.  He has adapted well to life at World Bird Sanctuary and is a visitor favorite.  If you are lucky enough to see him fully open his bill, you will quickly understand how he got his name.  It takes a lot of fish to fill the pouch below that will!!

Scoop has a very distinct “personality”.  He challenges his trainers, but once you have set up a relationship with him and are a part of his flock he will follow you like a big puppy dog.

Scoop has learned that if he hits his target (the blocks or his stick) he will be rewarded with a tasty treat (photo: Gay Schroer)

Scoop is trained with positive reinforcement to “target” to special perches and a stick with a tennis ball on it.  He will follow that stick anywhere as long as you have some fish for him.  However, when training, you must always pay close attention to Scoop.  If you ignore him, even for a second, he likes to remind you of what you are doing and will whack you with that long bill.  That bill does not look fearsome, but pelicans have sharp edges on the sides of the bill to help them hold onto fish, and the tip of the bill has a hook to it.  So when he whacks you, yes it does hurt.  I do not know how many times that has happened and people always ask “Does that hurt?”  My answer—yes it does.  Think of two razors hitting your arm and you will have some approximation of what it feels like.

Scoop and his friend Mudflap in their breeding colors (photo: Cathy Spahn)

Scoop lives with his friend Mudflap.  He is protective of Mudflap and they can be seen sitting together, swimming together and also vocalizing.  Please stop by and see these amazing birds the next time you visit WBS.

As with all of our resident animals, Scoop is available for adoption in our Adopt A Bird program.  Your adoption fee will help feed, house and care for Scoop in the coming year.  To adopt Scoop Click Here to go to the Adopt A Bird program on our website—or call 636-861-325 and ask for Marion to set up an Adopt A Bird over the phone.

Submitted by Cathy Spahn, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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