Osprey Nestling Reunited with Parents After Boat Collision
An osprey and three northern mockingbird nestlings were among the 70 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a loggerhead shrike, a limpkin, a pileated woodpecker, a swallow-tailed kite, a gopher tortoise and a marsh rabbit.
A boater near Marco Island called the wildlife hospital for assistance when she saw a nestling osprey fall into the water after a boat hit the channel marker where its nest was located. The woman rescued the osprey while hospital staff tried to coordinate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to have their marine unit place the osprey back in its nest. Signals were crossed and FWC brought the young osprey to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital instead. A physical exam showed the osprey was wet but uninjured and had a full crop which meant its parents had just fed it.
It was late in the day so hospital staff worked out a renesting plan for the following morning. Luckily Dolphin Cove Marina happily agreed to donate their time and services to help us return the osprey to its channel marker nest site.
As the boat approached the channel marker, a very concerned citizen watching from shore thought the re-nesting crew was trying to harm the osprey nest. The man was emphatically trying to get them to stop. Hospital staff tried to assure him they meant no harm but they were quite a distance offshore and couldn’t be sure he understood our intentions. Even though he misinterpreted the situation, it was awesome to see him doing all he could to protect the birds.
After the boat was secured to the channel marker, Benjamin Avery with Dolphin Cove Marina offered to climb the ladder attached to the channel marker since it was too high for von Arx Wildlife Hospital Coordinator, Colleen Durham, to scale. Once Benjamin was in position on the top of the channel marker Colleen passed him the box containing the young osprey. Benjamin settled the osprey into its nest and the team quickly moved away from the channel marker. The most gratifying moment occurred when the mother osprey returned to the nest within a minute of having her baby returned. The renesting team received applause and cheers from onlookers that had gathered onshore.
Everyone involved with this rescue and re-nesting deserves a special thank you. Such a terrific ending to a situation that could have had a tragic outcome. Please, never under estimate your ability to help an animal in distress. Offering assistance may be outside your comfort zone but if you stay calm and use common sense, you’ll be surprised at what you can do. There is no better feeling than helping to save the life of an animal in need.
An eastern screech owl, nine eastern cottontails, a red-bellied woodpecker, two Virginia opossums, seven brown pelicans, a marsh rabbit, a Florida box turtle, a Florida red-bellied turtle and a gopher tortoise were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
There are many ways to remain engaged and support the Conservancy. Become a member, donate and visit our website at www.conservancy.org. Learn about the Conservancy’s work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.
Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239–262–2273 or see conservancy.org