Osprey renesting a success

An osprey and an eastern cottontail were among the 136 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include 15 mottled ducklings, two northern parula nestlings, a black vulture, three chuck-will’s-widows, a white-tailed deer fawn and a Florida softshell turtle.

A woman on Marco Island called the von Arx Wildlife Hospital after she found the young osprey on the ground at the property she was renting. The osprey chick was alert with no obvious external injuries noted when admitted. The osprey’s condition was monitored over the following 24 hours; the osprey was responsive and strong and had a good appetite. Health wise, everything indicated the osprey hadn’t been hurt in the fall which allowed staff to plan for renesting.

The renesting was challenging to coordinate. The nest was at the top of a seventy-foot Norfolk pine tree. von Arx Wildlife Hospital volunteer and Marco Island resident, Bruce Robertson, went to the site to assess the situation; one promising factor was that the nest tree was on the edge of the road so access to the tree with a bucket truck would be straightforward.

Staff from Bartlett Tree Experts eagerly offered to assist. Bartlett staff met Wildlife Hospital Volunteer, Tim Thompson (with the osprey), at the scene. Such a disappointment when, fully extended, the bucket was just about five feet too short to safely place the nestling in the nest. The osprey chick was returned to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital as we continued to work on another option.

Hospital staff checked with LCEC, who has helped with past renesting efforts on Marco; their largest truck was off the island and unavailable. A suggestion was made to contact the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department; that turned out to be the solution we needed. The following day the fire-rescue crew met Tim on site and allowed him to ride in the bucket so he could place the nestling back in the nest. The osprey’s sibling hunkered down in the nest when the bucket reached nest level and the wayward chick was swiftly placed back in the nest. The disturbance at the nest stressed the two adult ospreys causing them to fly over the renesting crew the entire time.

Photos taken by Jess Patel

Wildlife Hospital staff can’t thank everyone enough for all their help. Knowing the young osprey now has the best chance of survival being raised by, and learning from, its parents in the wild is an incredibly joyous feeling. Situations like this exemplify how it ‘takes a village’ for our hospital to be so successful at what we do. The care and support shown by our volunteers and other agencies within our community is inspiring.

Recent Releases

A gopher tortoise, two red-shouldered hawks, a Florida softshell turtle, twelve brown pelicans, five eastern cottontails, an anhinga, two royal terns, a green heron, an osprey, three northern mockingbirds, an American crow and a chuck-will’s-widow were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org and act now to protect native wildlife before it’s too late. Collier County has come to a crossroads and its future hangs in the balance. Without your voice, Collier County is poised to approve new villages that will threaten wildlife and our quality of life.

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.

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