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American white pelican discovered in Lakeland with wire piercing its neck

The injured bird was discovered on Lake Morton
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Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 23:29:05-05

LAKELAND, Fla. — A freelance photographer discovered an injured American white pelican in Lakeland.

The bird had a thick wire lodged in its neck and the wire was symmetrical on each side.

"It's like a piece of heavy gauge wire that looked like a bucket handle, a bait bucket handle or a paint handle something of that nature. That's my best guess," said Michael Wilson.

Michael Wilson photographs birds around Lake Morton. He has lived in the area for several decades.

He looked for the injured bird after seeing people talk about it on Facebook. He then located the bird and took photos of it.

"It was not in any immediate distress, but obviously it (the wire) should not be there. We wanted to help the bird out and try to capture it," he said.

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He posted photos on Facebook and asked for the help of wildlife experts.

"Seeking help from bird enthusiasts and my FWC biologist friends and veterinarian friends...those kinds of people and we figured out it was some sort of artificial device like a piece of wiring," he said.

Wilson was able to get help from the Raptor Center of Tampa Bay. The nonprofit organization sent out Lynn Zablo, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

"I love this area. I love the birds, love the wildlife, love the environment and love to protect it," said Zablo.

The bird is expected to have surgery on Wednesday to remove the wire. Wildlife experts said they will be able to identify the object once it is removed from the bird.

American white pelicans are one of the largest birds in North America. They escape cold winter months up north and migrate to Florida in the winter.

"One of our main concerns is getting the surgery done and the rehab done in time for him to come back here to the lake to join his flock mates because they will leave in a matter of weeks to go back up north for their migratory pattern," said Wilson.