By Freddy Moyano
BROWN COUNTY – Strong storms that swept through the area in early September, bringing heavy rainfall and high winds, may very well have been the culprit that led a young osprey to become our headline-maker this week.
“He came to us on Sept. 1, just found, unable to fly, having problems securing food,” said Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary Curator of Animals, Lori Bankson.
Found in the Green Bay area, the osprey had no apparent injuries, but it was in an “unable to thrive” condition.
Bankson said the osprey, possibly a male, well under one year old, was found alone, on ground level, with no signs of mom being around.
“He’s been with us for six weeks and is doing great,” Bankson said. “His toes are very long, especially that extra toe being longer than with other hawks and eagles.”
As opposed to our July rehabilitation animal (a Cooper’s hawk that was recently released), Bankson said ospreys are typically kept in captivity for one or two years before they are released due to their developmental needs.
This one could still prove to be an exception to the rule.
“Chances are, we may have to winter him, although it’s a 50-50 situation right now,” Bankson said. “He will take a flight test near open water in about two weeks, and we will decide from there.”
Bankson said they fed the osprey nutritious paste for the first few weeks, but now that he is eating on his own, it’s a mix of salmon and smelt.
Bankson said the biggest obstacle in caring for these fish eaters is finding the food.
“We are really lucky to work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in that we get fish donations from them which helps support birds in need like this one, as well as the eagles and pelicans,” Bankson said.
After being greeted by its constant zig-zagging neck motion, the young osprey seemed to calm down about five minutes into our visit.
Bankson said the osprey recently got a new roommate, a great horned owl that moved into the cage next door, which ended the first few weeks of the osprey’s quiet recovery.
“It takes them a while to get used to each other, but eating patterns are back to normal soon enough,” Bankson said.
Bankson said they seldom get ospreys, estimating the frequency at between once a year and every other year.
She said part of the reason is the great work New London’s osprey and crane senior rehab specialist, Pat Fisher, is doing.
“She is pretty full right now, so we are just holding onto this one. If we had to transfer him to her, that is always an option, but we are well equipped here,” Bankson said.
How to help
Bankson said if residents find an animal in obvious need of help, they should call the sanctuary’s animal care line at (920) 391-3685.
“Not all animals require long-term help,” she said, noting the only help some species need is to put them back into their nest, den or habitat area.
Bankson said volunteers are always needed.
In last month’s Walk For Wildlife event, she said they raised over $25,000 and they had 540 walkers.
For more info about volunteering visit baybeachwildlife.com