DELACROIX, La. -- One dark-breasted Louisiana brown pelican has come a long way in a short period of time.
Last Friday, we found it near a dock in Delacroix, weak,disoriented and covered in thick brown oil.
The bird is recovering in the care of Rhonda Murgatroid and her team at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Belle Chasse.
"He was covered in something, and not just his body, but he also had it all inside his pouch, so we cleaned all inside his pouch as well," said Murgatroid.
She said the pelican is making friends and gaining weight.
"In the next day or two it's going to be outside getting in the conditioning pool and making sure we keep those flight muscles in proper working order."
The Delacroix pelican is one of five oiled birds brought to the site after Hurricane Issac.
The Coast Guard is responsible for setting up a bird rehabilitation center like this after a major storm.
"It's kind of the team Coast Guard mission is the make sure we're addressing issues such as oiled wildlife and everything else that comes along from a hurricane," said Petty Officer Jason Screws.
Wildlife rehabilitators say pelicans can typically live a while with oil on their feathers, but the long-term prognosis for the bird we found down in Delacroix would not have been good, particularly with the cold weather months ahead.
"The feather structure is broken down by the product, so then the feather absorbs the water, then the water gets to the skin and the bird is cold," said Murgatroid.
The wildlife team now hopes to release the pelican back into the marshes of St. Bernard Parish when it regains its strength.