Mooch and Milo Graduate from the Falzettis’ Flight School
Learning never stops in Crystal Cove, even for a couple of pelicans! Doug and Vivian Falzetti, long-time residents of the “Whistle Stop” in Cottage #15, established Crystal Cove’s Pelican Flight School shortly after an out-of-business bird shelter dumped off nearly 60 shelter raised pelicans at the Cove’s shores.
Flightless and hungry, the abandoned flock of pelicans quickly turned to begging at each and every cottage door in search of food.
Two lucky pelicans, Mooch and Milo, were adopted by the Falzettis and their Maine Coon cat Chuck, who mysteriously took the pelicans in as two of his own. Knowing that Mooch and Milo could not stay with them forever, as pelicans were federally protected, Doug established an impromptu flight school in an effort to re-establish their natural behaviors.
Using the beach sand as a runway and the roof of Cottage #46 as a launch pad, Doug tried different methods and used handfuls of fish treats to re-introduce the idea of flight.
“When something didn’t work, we tried something else,” says Doug. “Everything was absolutely impromptu and there was no great forethought put into it. They needed to learn how to fly and we knew they would respond to food.”
After a few days of routine sessions, Mooch was able to catch a bit of air, roughly a foot off of the sand. In time, both Mooch and Milo were both gliding over the beach and landing on their own. Eventually, Mooch and Milo “graduated” from the Falzetti’s Flight School and flew away from the Cove.
Today, the iconic turquoise Cottage #46 has retired as a Flight School launching pad, and is instead used to house interpretive exhibits. The Falzetti’s fun approach to immersive learning still lives on through educational and interpretive programs offered by both Crystal Cove Conservancy and Crystal Cove State Park interpreters. Visit the Conservancy’s distance learning page to learn about educational opportunities in the Park.