MONTECITO, Calif. - After several weeks of rehabilitation, four healthy pelicans are now the coastal waters near Montecito.
They were brought into the Wildlife Care Network in Goleta in various conditions of malnutrition or being disoriented. That's been a concern in the Santa Barbara and Ventura areas for the last several weeks.
Facilities on the central coast and in San Pedro have been monitoring the birds coming to the coast from breeding sites on the Channel Islands.
Saturday morning volunteers carried three large crates down to the sand at Butterfly Beach. The effort attracted a crowd of onlookers who were awaiting the release. One crate had two pelicans, and the other two had one each. They were covered until the release.
Once in place, the doors were open and within moment two pelicans took a couple of hops and took off over the surf. The other two were out into the oceanfront air seconds later.
The birds did not go out of sight, however. They landed on the water all together in the same spot and paused for several minutes before taking flight again.
The birds were in rehabilitation until they indicated they could fly again with good strength and were eating properly.
Other pelicans are still getting care at the center and will also be released on a local beach when they are ready.
For more information or to contact the center with an injured or sick bird sighting visit www.sbwcn.org.