Ladders, Rain, and Talons Oh My… by Josh Haas
When it comes to Osprey, they are one of the most unique birds out there. Not only are they well-adapted for distinctive hunting, they are a bird in a family all their own. Osprey are fish eating raptors that plunge completely into the water after prey. The first time you see it, I guarantee you will think the bird is certainly going to drown until it miraculously pops out and flies off as if it never went in the water.
There is quite a program in Southeast Michigan attempting to get the Osprey re-established in order to help the species along. A very interesting byproduct of this successful program has been Osprey returning to the other side of the state where several pairs are making the Kalamazoo area their new breeding grounds. In the past few years, there are several nests that have been successful, including one along the Kalamazoo River in the downtown area. Amongst the city noise, hustle and bustle this adult pair has successfully reared young the past two years. You might remember a previous post of mine about this very pair and how we prepared early for their return, erecting a new platform. This paid off swimmingly as the birds not only returned, they hatched 3 young Osprey. About a week and a half before they were expected to fledge, we moved in to check and band the birds.
Unfortunately for us, it was a stormy morning but as the storm clouds moved on, we stood the wet ladder up and one at a time, climbed to grab the birds and bring them down for physicals and banding. Being on a slippery ladder with a bird sporting adult sized feet and talons was no fun task but with experience, it can be done methodically with no problems. During the physical, we look for any kind of insects or signs of infections by looking at the birds vent, ears, mouth/throat, etc. The birds weren’t weighed but their keels were checked to ensure they showed good signs of getting enough food. All three birds were very healthy and meaty meaning the adults really knew what they were doing. Once the birds were banded, we brought them back up to the nest as the adults continued to fly around squawking. All in all, a successful morning. A long week later, all three young fledged and began flying around with their parents. I wonder what next year will bring!!!
It’s important to mention this banding event was done by official licensed bird banders from the Kalamazoo Nature Center with the help of volunteers that had experience with large Raptors. Never attempt to approach or band wild birds. This is highly regulated and should only be done by experienced handlers and licensed banders.
To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.