Osprey successfully re-nested

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A juvenile osprey was among the 92 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week after it was found in Goodland under an 80-foot Norfolk Pine tree after he had fallen from the nest.

Volunteer holding the osprey before a staff member fed it lunch.

After providing supportive care to the young bird for several days, the osprey was cleared for re-nesting.

Hospital staff needed to determine if the nest was still active since several days had passed from when the osprey was first rescued. A wildlife volunteer went to the property to watch for signs of activity at the nest. An adult osprey was seen in the nest but it was difficult to see if the adult was tending to a baby. A hospital staff member checked out the nest the following day and was able to determine there was a baby in the nest and the adult ospreys were definitely feeding that baby.

If we could return “our” baby from the hospital to the nest, the parents would resume caring for the baby as if he had never been gone. Contrary to popular belief, most birds have a very poor sense of smell and will care for their babies even if the babies have been touched by humans.

2017 Wildlife Baby Shower
Buy a gift for injured and orphaned animals

Ian Orlikoff from Signature Tree Care offered to re-nest the osprey if we needed assistance. Although his bucket truck couldn’t reach the nest, Ian could use ropes and physically climb the tree. Since the tree was easily accessed from the road we first called Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) to see if they had a bucket truck that could reach the nest. If LCEC had a truck available, it would be the least labor intensive solution to our need.

Mom circling the nest as our team worked to re-nest the juvenile.

LCEC staff was eager to assist and planned to meet us at the nest the following afternoon. LCEC’s bucket truck easily maneuvered up to the nest. Just as staff placed “our” baby osprey in the nest his sibling got spooked, jumped from the nest, and glided to the ground. Although the baby looked skilled as he flew to the ground, he had not mastered the landing and somersaulted when he touched the ground. A hospital staff member who had been watching from the ground retrieved the baby osprey as the bucket was lowered. Once contained, the bucket was raised up to the nest and this time both baby ospreys stayed put in the nest.

Everyone knew the re-nesting was successful because the mother osprey hovered and circled the nest throughout the entire process. She was ready to resume caring for her brood once we got out of the way. A visit to the site later that afternoon and the following day showed both babies were still settled safely in the nest.

Hospital staff appreciates Ian Orkikoff for his offer to help, even on his day off. Staff at LCEC deserves a special thank you for their quick response to our request for help. It is amazing how everyone involved just wanted to do what was necessary to reunite the fallen baby osprey with his sibling and parents.

Recent Releases — 28 Rehabbed Animals Returned Home

  • 1 bald eagle
  • 1 red-shouldered hawk
  • 1 Virginia opossum
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker
  • 4 northern mockingbirds
  • 6 blue jays
  • 9 eastern cottontails
  • 1 marsh rabbit
  • 1 mourning dove
  • 1 black racer
  • 1 Florida brown snake
  • 1 loggerhead shrike

Opportunities to Help

Please join us in celebrating the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s annual Wildlife Hospital Baby Shower on Saturday, June 3rd. Visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org/babyshower for details on how to get involved and help us continue to provide quality care to the hundreds of baby animals we will care for this season. All donations are truly vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s wildlife.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see conservancy.org.

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