Almost hidden on the southwest side of Liberty Park is Salt Lake's Tracy Aviary, a bird-lover's paradise.
Tracy Aviary, 589 E. 1300 South, is also now the home of an unusual pelican Razor with a great affinity for people.
"Even though pelicans are somewhat gregarious, this one seems to be particularly friendly with people," said Roger Sweeney, curator at Tracy Aviary.
The pelican's story began in June at the marshy pond behind the American Express offices on the 4300 South block of 2700 West. The pond, with trees, high grasses and cattails, was a favorite picnic spot for employees.
The diners began noticing a pelican frequenting the premises. To have wildlife at the pond is not strange, but this pelican was always there. As they continued to watch, they noticed that he seemed to have an injured wing, which meant he couldn't fly and was stuck there. He could not travel south for the winter.
One of the employees, Lisa Broadhead, eventually called the Ogden Nature Center, which specializes in rehabilitating injured wildlife in hopes of returning them to the wild. The center was willing to take the pelican but lacked the manpower to send anyone out. They, in fact, knew about the pelican, having received more than 30 phone calls from American Express employees.
"They told me I could try and catch him myself," she says. "I was given 'simple' instructions as in getting him on land, which I never did, and using a blanket once he was caught. The real kicker was I had to watch out for his bill, which they said is similar to thousands of razor blades. I then determined I would not make the attempt!"
Broadhead chronicled the bird's escapades through updates to her blog. The 4-year-old son of a friend in Raleigh, N.C., was taken by the pelican's plight and named the pelican "Razor."
"He came up with it all by himself, and the name was quite fitting and it stuck," says Broadhead.
Then a government agency got involved. According to Sweeney, "The injured pelican was captured by the Urban Wildlife Service of the USDA, using a small boat. They then transported him to Ogden Nature Center."
Once the pelican was in Ogden, he came under the care of wildlife specialist Dalyn Erickson. The first determination was that the pelican would not be able to return to nature because of the broken wing. The wing had healed, but incorrectly.
"He had a mite infestation, which can be very dangerous for pelicans. He was also really thin," Erickson said.
People aren't supposed to feed wild animals, but Razor was fed.
"This is probably why he's so friendly he got lots of food from people at the pond," Sweeney said..
Once the pelican was healthy, he was sent to Tracy Aviary.
According to aviary executive director Tim Brown, "Lots of our birds are not able to survive in the wild, so we give them a home here."
When entering Tracy Aviary, he is one of the first birds visitors see, as he is just past a bridge that crosses a small pond that leads into the main part of the aviary.
"He is very playful with people," Erickson said. "If a bird could smile and jump for joy, this guy would be the one to do it."
In addition to Razor the Pelican, the aviary's collection includes 135 species, both exotic and also indigenous to the United States.Tracy Aviary is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with bird shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. For more information, call 322-2473 or visit tracyaviary.org.
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