Rescued Pelican That Tried to Hatch Eggs for Six Years Becomes a Dad After Getting Some Help
For six long years, a rescued pelican and his partner tried in vain to hatch eggs. Now, after a little help from Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue in Queensland, Australia, Mr. Percival and his mate are finally celebrating parenthood for the first time.
“Mr. Percival has never given up trying to have a baby pelican chick,” the rescue organization, run by twin sisters Paula and Bridgette Powers, wrote on Facebook. “We felt so sorry for him,” they added, “so we did this amazing thing for him as we wanted to make him really happy this time.”
In September, the carers placed an egg from another pelican into Mr. Percival’s nest, hoping to change his run of infertility. Australian pelicans are colonial breeders, and Mr. Percival took his role as expectant dad very seriously, sharing the 28-day incubation duties with his mate.
Pelicans can breed any time of year and lay between one and three eggs per “clutch,” explains The Australian Museum. Mr. Percival had persevered for innumerable incubations, waiting for that special moment, and finally, it came; his adoptive egg hatched on Sept. 15.
“Mr. Percival was proud as punch,” Twinnies wrote on Facebook. “He made us cry. As you can tell, he and his partner are in love with their newborn.”
But most of all, they gushed, “This is true love for our Mr. Percival.”
The paternal pelican stepped up to his fatherly duties like a pro. Pelican chicks are born blind and without feathers, so close and consistent parenting is crucial if they are to thrive.
As the weeks progressed, the carers at the sanctuary expressed pride in Mr. Percival through regular updates on social media, including photos of the newborn pelican chick “growing beautifully.”
“Mr. Percival goes for a swim and catches little fish then he feeds his little one,” they marveled.
In another update, they wrote: “[H]is behavior is just amazing.”
Twinnies, a rescue and rehabilitation center for sick, injured, and orphaned seabirds, has been taking care of Mr. Percival for almost two decades.
The elated father was once a young bird on Chambers Island in Maroochydore, Queensland. He became well known to Twinnies for getting himself tangled in fishing lines, but after a serious injury, Mr. Percival lost a wing.
Twinnies applied for a permit to bring him into their sanctuary. Australian pelicans have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years, so the accident-prone pelican has achieved fatherhood just in the nick of time.
In an Oct. 21 update, the rescue organization revealed that Mr. Percival’s fathering instinct was spreading to the rest of the flock. “Mr. Percival attracts all the other little baby pelicans to sit next to him,” they wrote.
“When it’s feeding time it’s a different story,” they added; “he tells the other baby pelicans to go to the other parents for a feed.”
Watching the cheerful congregation of seabirds thriving together is “so beautiful,” they said. This fall, Twinnies welcomed five pelican chicks in all.
(Courtesy of Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue)
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