Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Rare Encounter from Columbia

Truth be told, ospreys are not protected in their wintering areas. In many areas they are seen as direct competitors with people for food (from the fish that they eat) or as pests at commercial fish farms in South America where they winter in large concentrations. I've herd that some fishermen shoot at them while they're on migration south over the Caribbean and Central and South America. Most band encounters from South America are not accompanied with a lot of photos and a report from a veterinarian. Really, we are lucky to get a report at all... This is one exception where an individual and a community became engaged in trying to save an osprey that originated in New Jersey.

Alberto Aguilar holds out the wings of the rescued osprey in Columbia.

This banded osprey (hatched in 2011) was encountered in Colombia recently near Cienaga del Cristo, Tamalameque, Cesar. Alberto, an environmentalist there, tried to help save this individual. He was found entangled in old fishing nets and was emaciated and dehydrated when found. He was examined by a local veterinarian and was found to be loaded with parasites, had an enlarged gall bladder, and had an ulcer on its left nictitating membrane (3rd eyelid). Unfortunately, the veterinarian was unable to save him. He was banded on July 7th on a nesting platform that is located to the north of Stone Harbor Blvd. by one of our volunteer banders, Hans Toft. Hans recalls visiting this nest:
"I remember this nest well because it is a long walk with the ladder to get to it. The nest is on the north side of Stone Harbor Blvd (175A024) and is easy to check on by car with binoculars. I am always going over to my boat in Stone Harbor anyhow . After we banded the two chicks I kept an eye on them and remember watching the two birds during the summer, and seeing them fledge. Also, the birds were eating a bluefish when we banded them.  Of course, we have our problems also with fishing lines, nets, etc.  good to hear that the bird will be put to good educational use."  Hans

We were sent a bunch of photos of the bird and the report from the local veterinarian. From the photos you can see that this bird has already molted most of its juvenile flight and body feathers (as a juvenile they have a buff tip and as an adult they are all dark). The eye is also yellow instead of orange. It weighed a total of 1200 grams which indicates that its a male (females weight from 1600 - 2000 grams). He also is lacking the dark necklace of feathers that female ospreys develop on their breast.

Alberto and many of the locals were very excited about this rare encounter. They have decided to mount the bird and use it as a way to educate people there about old fishing nets and the need to be careful with them.

To view more photos, click here.

A photo of the osprey after it was rescued in Columbia.
This bird was banded at a nest on a
platform off of Stone Harbor Blvd
by one of our volunteers, Hans Toft.


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