Wolfe’s Neck State Park rangers save osprey chicks after storm

Posted July 11, 2013, at 6:43 a.m.
A five-week-old osprey, which was knocked out of its nest during a severe thunderstorm July 5 at the Wolfe Neck State Park, was rescued and kept in a box before it wasreturned to the tree with its two siblings. By Wednesday the parents were seen feeding the chicks.
Submitted photo
A five-week-old osprey, which was knocked out of its nest during a severe thunderstorm July 5 at the Wolfe Neck State Park, was rescued and kept in a box before it wasreturned to the tree with its two siblings. By Wednesday the parents were seen feeding the chicks.
Arborist Paul Miller places three osprey chicks onto a man-made platform at the Wolfe Neck State Park in Freeport. A nest holding three five-week-old chicks was knocked down during a July 5 thunderstorm. Even though they couldn't fly, the 50-foot fall did not appear to injure the chicks. On Wednesday the parents were seen feeding fish to their chicks on the platform.
Submitted photo
Arborist Paul Miller places three osprey chicks onto a man-made platform at the Wolfe Neck State Park in Freeport. A nest holding three five-week-old chicks was knocked down during a July 5 thunderstorm. Even though they couldn't fly, the 50-foot fall did not appear to injure the chicks. On Wednesday the parents were seen feeding fish to their chicks on the platform.

FREEPORT, Maine — Three baby ospreys were back in their tree Wednesday after falling 50 feet and being rescued by Wolfe’s Neck State Park rangers, according to the Maine Department of Agriculture.

On July 5, a severe thunderstorm hit and shattered a white pine near the parking lot. The next day, while clearing limbs and debris, park staff discovered the osprey nest on Googins Island had been taken down by the storm.

In that nest were three 5-week-old chicks, park Manager Andrew Hutchinson said. The ospreys are the stars of the park; no visit is complete without looking for the birds high in their nest. Ospreys are large birds with a wingspan of 6 feet. Juveniles typically begin to fly when they are about 2 months old.

Hutchinson found one of the osprey chicks on the ground. “I scoured the island but couldn’t find the other two,” he said in a report.

A rescue effort followed.

The found chick was cared for overnight and fed bluefish donated by Bow Street Market.

On Sunday, park staff found and rescued the other two chicks, which had made their way to a rocky ledge on the island, Hutchinson said. “Amazingly, all three 5-week-old chicks survived the 50-foot fall,” he said.

“Miracles happen,” park staffer Pete Elkins said.

Park staff built a platform on top of the tree and arborist Paul Miller volunteered to climb the tree and wire in the nesting platform to support a nest.

The chicks were bagged and hauled by rope to the top, then gently placed on the platform.

By Wednesday, the mother and father ospreys were seen fishing and feeding their chicks on the platform. They also started to rebuild the nest. Ospreys use sticks, bark and moss for their nests.

“It’s very exciting for us,” Elkins said. “We were successful. We had no idea if the parents would take the babies back once we got them up there. Some birds, once the babies are touched by humans, won’t take them back,” he said. “In this case, everything’s great with the world.”

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