|Judy Irving and "Gigi" in the filmmaker's new documentary Pelican Dreams, opening in New York and LA on November 7th. (Photo courtesy of Shadow Distribution.)|
Irving had begun filming the birds over a decade ago and abandoned the project, but when a brown pelican landed on the Golden Gate Bridge recently, she recalled her childhood love of the birds and the 16 mm. footage she had shot of them. Brown pelicans breed on California’s Channel Islands, and that unlucky young bird, dubbed “Gigi” by Irving, was underweight, and had to be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Irving followed her there. Throughout Pelican Dreams, the filmmaker speaks with about a dozen pelican caretakers, mostly in the San Francisco Bay area, who nurse the birds professionally, and who heal them in their backyards. All the pelicans are released back into the wild if they recover.