MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Arvy, the brown pelican rescued from an Essex cove last week, is now in Florida at a wildlife sanctuary.
The bird was first spotted back in January in a frozen cove in Essex, CT by a member of the Connecticut Audubon Society, who reached out to state conservation officers for help and rescue.
Rescuers noticed that the bird was listless at the time of day when they said pelicans normally feed energetically.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was then contacted and their staffers managed to ease the bird out of the water and into a plastic bin.
The pelican was taken to A Place Called Hope bird rehab where he was recovering.
Brown pelicans aren’t usually seen farther north than Virginia Beach, so when one was found in Connecticut, good Samaritans decided to help get the bird back to somewhere warmer.
“So when Arvy first arrived, this poor bird couldn’t even stand, couldn’t lift his head,” said Christine Cummings, President of A Place Called Hope President. “He was so hypothermic that he couldn’t even blink his eyes, so we were really surprised when he was able to stand and bounce himself back.”
But he fought and concurred. His reward? A first class ticket to a new home.
Arvy was taken to Florida in an RV-12 plane, which is actually how he got his name, built by students at HC Wilcox Technical High School.
There were plenty of volunteers willing to drive Arvy to Florida, but experts wanted to get him there faster. Pelicans are tough to handle, so Arvy would have to make the trip without any food or water.
Eight pilots volunteered but Laurie and Arianna Strand – a mother and daughter duo – ended up flying Arvy.
“I just love animals, and anything I can do to help animals,” said Arianna. “So when I saw this and saw he needed to get to his new home, I figured why not help out?”
The flight was estimated to take 10-11 hours total; eight and a half of those will be for flight time. The plane left from the Meriden Markham Municipal Airport around 6 a.m. Thursday. They landed in Florida later in the afternoon, where a wildlife sanctuary offered to take Arvy.
Laurie is used to helping and healing, but the flight is a welcome change.
“It’s a kind of feel-good thing,” Laurie said. “I work in a hospital in an ICU. I’m a nurse practitioner, and it’s been quite a year.”
We may never know how the pelican got to Connecticut, but Arvy left thanks to a bunch of new friends.
“We did our best up here, and the fact that he’s alive is pretty amazing,” said Cummings.
Arvy’s new home is the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida. They have several brown pelicans there already, so Arvy will not only be well cared for, he will have plenty of company as well.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Busch gave an update on Arvy’s condition. They say he’s getting better but needs reconstructive surgery on his feet. He got frostbite in the cove in Essex.
They don’t know if he’ll be able to return to the wild, but he’s a strong little bird and will get through it!