What Happened To the Osprey Nest Adjacent to the Entrance Road?
Refuge Officer Gareth Williams transported 3 feathered osprey chicks to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia on the evening of June 17, 2010 after their nest was destroyed by strong wind gusts in the afternoon hours at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge, Virginia.
The limb in the large, dead oak snag along the entry road in the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge broke off and fell to the ground taking with it the osprey nest containing three chicks (left image). Officer Williams discovered the fallen limb and nest late afternoon during a routine patrol of the refuge.
He contacted raptor specialist Kent Knowles of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia who quickly made contact with his colleagues and rehabilitators to prepare for the arrival of the young fish eating raptors. Williams reported that even while searching for the nestlings, visitors who have been watching the growing birds for the past few months were stopping along the road and making concerned inquiries about what happened to the nest and the chicks. Williams said that the birds had begun growing feathers, their eyes were open and they were alert and making the distinctive chittering sound, like the adults. They fared well for having fallen about 100 feet to the ground.
The chicks were transported (right image) to the conservancy that evening when it became evident that the construction of a new nest platform near the old tree would take too long and there would be a risk that the young would become dehydrated. Without a nest platform there was the risk that the adults would give up on their search for the babies and abandon the nest site completely.
After receiving the three surviving osprey chicks, Kent Knowles inspected each bird for injuries and all were stated to be in excellent condition despite the fall. Kent hydrated each with a special electrolyte solution and was to feed the birds a diet of fish later that evening.
Once fully stable, the chicks will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility on the Northern Neck, VA. The facility has large enough fly-cages to accommodate the chicks while they mature.
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Ospreys are one of the most common bird species seen at Occoquan Bay NWR during spring and summer. They return in early March to re-form pair bonds and establish breeding territories. Breeding pairs can be observed nesting on platforms located throughout the refuge.