Known officially as the Groton #6/River Road nest, this nest is carefully watched by Osprey Steward Mary Barravecchia, a Peace Sanctuary neighbor who volunteers to monitor breeding osprey on behalf of CT Audubon’s Osprey Nation. A couple of weeks ago, DPNC was called to the nest. Two of three healthy young had fledged, but the littlest one was tethered to the nest. Monitoring the nest with camera and telescope, Mary noticed the baby’s legs were wrapped in monofilament. It could flap its wings and hop around, but only within about a 6” diameter circle. Sometimes it seemed to disappear, burrowing down into the nest. Until the other siblings had flown, it was not obvious that anything was amiss, and he had been well fed and cared for since he was first visible on July 5.

On the day Mary called DPNC to intervene, we had to wait for heavy downpours to subside and for the tide to go out a bit so we could carry an extension ladder out to the nest pole. Volunteer Rick Ely, owner of the Mystic Cycle Center, climbed up to investigate and operate. With tiny scissors, he carefully extricated the bird from a grapefruit-sized wad of nylon line wrapped around its right leg and feet. Fortunately, wounds from the line were superficial and easily treated with antibiotic spray. During the entire operation, the parent and sibling birds watched and called from afar, with dad occasionally swooping in for a closer look.

For the following days, Mary continued a careful watch and observed the littlest osprey flapping and moving about more, occasionally sitting a bit higher on the rim of the nest, and always crying loudly. The parents continued to bring him fish and he continued to grow stronger. In a few days, he was getting a bit of lift-off and after one week, he took flight! He now spends the days flying around with the family, practicing and honing his skills as a Fish Hawk along the Mystic River. Soon they, and all ospreys, will head south for the winter—many of the young will go only as far as Florida, and most adult birds will fly to South America. The young of 2018 will not return until 2021. The first year of life is the most challenging for osprey and all long-distance migrants. So far, this osprey has been lucky!

An Osprey’s legs are tangled in fishing line.
Rick Ely meets Osprey, eye to eye.
The osprey seems to cooperate with the rescue.