Friday, August 14, 2015
I released a juvenile osprey yesterday after about ten days in rehab. He was found on the ground but actually had no broken bones. Unfortunately, when I opened his box he did not fly immediately, but turned to look at me...so I backed up and he took off in a different direction than I thought he would. He did not head for the nest but veered off, flying very low and dodged some trees and then over a hill and he was gone. Darn it! I spent a long, hot, humid day searching for that chick. I found the other two fledged chicks from his family and learned all their secret perching spots. Every time I saw a juvenile flying I chased after it...is it the released chick? Nope. They came and went, had lunch served, and I located both adults but alas, the missing chick evaded me completely all day. I finally gave up in defeat...tired, hungry, thirsty, and went home. I worried about him all night and was back there by 8 a.m. to start the search all over. As I drove up to the nest, I held my breath....hoping he would be on the nest, but he wasn't. In fact, no one was. Not an osprey in sight. I waited. Eventually the female came with a bright goldfish and she circled all around the area, a typical display meant to attract any hungry chicks in the area. No takers, so she ate it herself. The male arrived and perched right next to her, scanning in all direction for the kids. Eventually they saw a visiting osprey down the road and they both took off to circle with him, eventually disappearing from sight. The temps were climbing rapidly and the dew points were horrendous. After three hours I left, discouraged, and got an iced coffee, but something inside said, go back to the nest...so I did just that. As I drove up, I saw an osprey on the nest....holy smokes, I could not get to the nest fast enough, fumbling with the scope...and then I saw, it was the released chick! Yeah! Finally this guy made it back to his nest, almost exactly 24 hours after I had released him. His crop was very empty. He sat so quietly. No adults anywhere in the area. Suddenly he started food begging quietly as an adult male osprey flew in circles above the nest. He did not land but perched on another structure nearby where I could read his band...not Dad, but a male that I have now seen at seven different nests this summer! He is a story for another day...seen all over the metro area after being displaced at his nest. He cracks me up. He eventually flew off. We waited. I finally was so wilted from the heat that I had to take a break and seek refuge in a cooler spot. A few hours later I returned to find, another chick on the nest with the released chick, and my little friend finally had a full crop and fish bits on his beak. Happy at last...me, that is. Then Dad came with a fish, and the other chick lunged for it. The released chick did not even try. He was full, in fact the tail of a goldfish was laying on the nest edge. He finally picked that up and was nibbling on that fishtail in 95 degree heat as I finally headed home to relax, worry free. He doesn't seem to want to leave the nest now that he has made it back there. All is well, I saw all members of the family today, and life has returned to normal here. I will still continue to watch over this nest as the season winds down, but I am relieved. Now I can get back to watching the other drama again from the previous post! This is my crazy life.