Three American white pelicans slowly scanned their surroundings and blew up with a little encouragement at Mason Regional Park in Irvine on Friday.
The birds had recovered at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach for the past six months. All are around a year old.
One found around Thanksgiving was nicknamed Butterball. It was malnourished and small for its age.
The other two had been injured by fishing lines. One had to operate on the blade on the underside of the beak, while the other had parts of the feet removed because they were damaged.
Debbie McGuire, the center’s executive director, said she wanted to make sure the birds are released in time for their annual migration to Colorado.