The Wildlife Center of Texas has had some interesting patients this week. Volunteers and staff found themselves caring for several members of the order pelecaniformes. Pelecaniformes are medium to large aquatic birds which include birds like pelicans, cormorants, gannets, boobies, and anhingas.
The birds currently in our care include brown pelicans, an anhinga, and a neo-tropic cormorant. The feature that distinguishes this order from all other birds is totipalmate feet, an adaptation where all four toes are connected by webbing (seen to the right). The pelican and cormorant have a hook on the end of their bill whereas the anhinga has a straight, sharp bill. Another interesting difference is the anhinga’s unusual feathers. Their unique plumage consists of corrugated feathers (seen below); two in the center of the tail, one each from the scapular (shoulder feathers) and four or five rippled feathers on each wing.
Many of the pelicans at the center were brought in as a result of the extended cold winter we have had. The cormorant was hit by a car and is suffering blunt force trauma and the anhinga was found with its bill stuck in a littered hand wipe. Typically, birds like these come in emaciated and full of parasites in addition to their injuries. After they have been treated for their injuries and are ready to be released, The Wildlife Center of Texas will hold a public release of some of its pelicans sometime in March.
If you are interested in participating in the release make sure you have signed up for our e-blasts. You can sign up with just your name and email on the bottom of our home page: www.WildlifeCenterofTexas.org