April 14th - Today while working in the office we got one of those "usual" calls about an injured bird, usually a bird of prey. We get lots of these calls, year-round mainly because all other conservation groups who are contacted with an "injured bird" call, have them, call us.... Well today one of the calls was of an osprey stuck in the mud near Bivalve.
First, I returned the call to "diagnose" the situation, an osprey was seen by Pat , while walking his dogs in Bivavle, that was stuck in the mud. He got our number to let us know, then notified a Conservation Officer who responded and retrieved the bird from the mud, which was more than waist high!! I knew this osprey was probably already "paired up" with its mate and could be incubating now or very soon. The worried mate was circling and calling when the bird was stuck in the mud. So, if possible it was important to wash the bird and if there weren't any injuries, to release him/her on site. When I got a hold of the group (Bayshore Discovery Project staff) who had the osprey I asked if anyone knew how to handle the bird and to check for fractures and they didn't, so then I left the office to rinse and hopefully release the bird.
Bivalve wasn't far from my office, so I got there within an hour. The osprey was contained in a small plastic box and was wet and covered in mud, which was stuck to the feathers, weighing the bird down. Birds need to take great care of their feathers by preening (cleaning and realigning them) to achieve lift. This osprey couldn't even release itself from the mud. So I started to rinse the bird with cold water w/ the help of Pat (Bayshore Discovery Project), carefully making sure not to "overwash" the bird. Pat sprayed the hose while I held and manually helped to get the mud out of it's feathers. The osprey was pretty well behaved, considering that it sat on a lawn, had several people around it, and was being washed with a hose. I'm sure it just knew that, without human intervention, it would have been stuck in the mud struggling all day, until the high tide came back and drowned the bird.
After rinsing the bird, I dried it making sure not to damage each of the flight feathers while I dried each one meticulously. The sun also helped warm and naturally dry the osprey. Within a half-hour we then took the bird to a dike close to where it was found and I sat the bird on the ground. I then backed away and let him get a view of his surroundings, hoping that he would eventually lift off. After about 10 minutes, I then decided to try and "push(walk towards to flush up and away)" him to take off. I stood there, looking at him, thinking "come on, just open up your wings bud." Then, within a minute, he pooped, opened up his wings and LIFT OFF! He was up and had a strong flight to the nearest nesting platform where he was met by another osprey.