Weybridge Osprey

Written by Grae O’Toole, Director, Center for WIld Bird Rehabilitation

The Vermont Institute of Natural Science Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation received a nestling osprey on June 19, 2021, after it was found on the ground.  The nest had been destroyed by a storm and the parents were nowhere in sight. 

Upon arrival, rehab staff did a full exam to assess the bird for injuries.  The osprey was emaciated and had maggots crawling around its wrists and inside its ear.  This is very common in young patients that have been abandoned or orphaned in the summer months.  The bird was very weak and lethargic due to starvation.  Rehabilitation staff put a treatment plan together to treat the bird for maggots and put a feeding schedule in place.  When birds arrive emaciated care must be taken not to offer solid foods before the bird’s body is healthy enough to process it properly.  After copious amounts of fluids to rehydrate the bird staff began introducing food slowly.  Since the bird was a nestling it had to be hand-fed fish several times a day, but soon figured out how to feed itself.  

Ospreys are hard to care for in a rehab setting due to their behavior and lifestyle, so rehabilitation staff decided to try putting the nestling in a pre-existing osprey nest so it could be raised by osprey parents and live with osprey siblings.  After coordinating with Green Mountain Power and Vermont Fish & Wildlife, we were able to find a nest that could work.  On July 6, 2021, the osprey nestling was placed in a nest with two other similar aged osprey nestlings.  The nestling had more than doubled its weight in the care of staff so we were so excited to give this bird a second chance out in the wild.

Rehabilitation staff could not be happier to hear that the nestling is thriving and has fledged out of its new nest with its adopted siblings. Ospreys are difficult to care for in a rehab setting and even more so when they are very young and impressionable.  Releasing patients after they have been cared for is always very rewarding, but it’s so special to get the opportunity to release a bird into the care of wild birds and watch them do what comes naturally to them.

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