Releasing Raptors: The culmination of multiagency coordination and environmental stewardship
On a quiet September afternoon, a small group excitedly gathered to witness the highly anticipated release of two very special birds.
Four months ago, Debris Management Task Force (Task Force) crews rescued the pair of Osprey chicks from an imminently dangerous hazard tree along OR-126 in the Holiday Farm Fire area. After several attempts to keep the birds in the wild, Cascades Raptor Center ornithologists and Task Force biologists and operations staff made the difficult decision to transfer the birds to a temporary home at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene.
After three months of rehabilitation at the Cascades Raptor Center, the Osprey chicks were ready for their release into the wild.
“Releases for us are one of the most stressful moments in the whole rehabilitation process. So much can go wrong,” explained Dr. Ulrike Streicher of the Cascades Raptor Center, who had overseen the birds’ growth and development since they were just days old.
“Did you bring your swimsuit?,” Streicher joked. “Because we’ve gone into lakes after birds.”
A volunteer from the Cascades Raptor Center offered their lakeside home near Florence for the much-anticipated release. On the walk down to the lakeshore, the homeowner pointed out a wild Osprey nest perched on top of a tall tree – the rescued Osprey chicks would have local experts from which they could learn how to fish for themselves. Until the chicks master the skill, though, the homeowners may supplement the Osprey’s diet with daily offerings of thawed fish from their freezer, similar to meals the chicks ate at the Center.
“This is a culmination of so many efforts and time,” said George Collins III, environmental compliance specialist with Mason, Bruce & Girard, Inc. who had been part of the original chick rescue efforts and is the namesake for one of the birds. “Having everyone at ODOT and all the partners with Cascades Raptor Center … everyone worked together and now we get to put them out to a really wonderful place … it’s the perfect ending.”
With an ideal environment and months of practice testing their wings, the Osprey chicks were ready to experience their first long-distance flight. Watch the video to witness their release.