For more than 40 birds, the journey to a new home began on Sunday.
Loaded into kennels and then onto a Coast Guard plane, the collection of Brown Pelicans and seagulls headed to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge along the Texas Gulf Coast.
"This is a massive effort," said Dr. Dan Mulcahy, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "These are wild animals and they've never been touched by a human being before. They've never been in a dog kennel before, they've never been washed before and, so, it's got to be quite stressful for them."
Their old home along Louisiana's coast is now fouled by oil. At one point, the birds were as well -- until they were rescued, cleaned and rehabilitated. Sunday's transport to the wildlife refuge includes the largest number of treated birds released since the oil spill began. The birds will be set free at the Aransas NWR because the area features coastal marshes that are similar to those in Southeast Louisiana.
"It's pelican country. They're well known for pelicans there," Dr. Mulcahy. "So, we know there's going to be food. We know the habitat is suitable for them and they should be quite comfortable."
The effort is attracting its share of volunteers. Tommy Cook drove all the way from Clearwater, Florida to New Orleans to help transport the birds.
"I just wanted to help out," he said.
Cook is a long-time volunteer with the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, and he's a pastor with a soft spot for the feathered creatures.
"My ministry is on the beach," Cook said. ''Actually, it's called Reach 'n' Teach on the Beach.' So, we've got a heart for all God's creatures. If everybody would help where they can help at, maybe this thing would go a lot easier."
After landing in Rockport, Texas, the birds were transported to the wildlife refuge and released.