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Bird of prey gets new moms

Last month we told you about Nelson the Oprey who struck a power line near his nest and was electrocuted.

At the time, he was taking care of his mate and three babies, doing the majority of the hunting for the family.

Immediately after his death the community of Nelson and Nelson Hydro jumped into action creating a pulley system to get fresh fish to the now fatherless family.

Unfortunately, it was not enough to save the feathered family and mom sunk into a depression over losing her mate. She stopped feeding the babies, and two of the three chicks perished.

The third baby, little baby Nel, named after his father, was saved and is now thriving at The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (O.W.L) in Delta.

O.W.L. bird care staffer Martina Versteeg says it is an unfortunate, but common thing in nature for a mother bird to react in that way once losing a mate.

“There are lots of stories out there like that in the wild. If one mate dies, especially with Osprey, they go to into a depression or confusion or shock and they stop feeding,” says Versteeg. “It is not that they don't care anymore they are just lost. Sometimes they rally through it, but she didn't.”

Versteeg says they received the report last Thursday July 3 that two of the three babies had already passed away and they jumped into action offering their services to Nelson Hydro.

“We put out the offer that we do have facilities that have been pretty successful at rehabilitating Osprey. We called Nelson Hydro and their biologist and left it to them,” explained Versteeg.

Nelson Hyrdo accepted their offer and one of O.W.L.'s volunteers drove from their home in Salmo to get Nel down from the nest. With help from Nelson Hydro and a local utility, Nel was off to Delta with a free ride from Pacific Coastal Airlines.

“He is very healthy for what he has been through, for not being fed for a at least a few days in the wild and then coming here. He is gaining weight pretty quickly and we are happy with his progress,” says Versteeg.

They are calling Nel a 'he' but they are not 100 per cent sure at this point.

“It is hard to tell at this age, but we are leaning towards a boy because he is growing a little bit on the small side,” says Versteeg.

He is also living with another Osprey so Nel realizes humans are not his species.

The other Osprey was already at the sanctuary being rehabilitated for an injured wing and now she is able to hang out in the cage with Nel and take the little guy under her wing, so to speak.

“She can let Nel know he is an Oprey, and what he is going to grow up to be. It will also show him what to eat and how to eat and how to bathe, but she is not actually a mother, she doesn't feed Nel.”

Once Nel grows up a little more he will get moved out into their outdoor cage that has a pond stocked with live trout where he can learn to fish and hunt. Then after a few months in the sanctuary they hope to set him free in the area around Nelson.

In other good news Nel's mother is doing much better. Versteeg says the camera has kept rolling and people are watching her flourish once again.

“She has got back to acting normal, she is fishing again. I heard she is drying off in the sun and fixing up her nest again. And actually she has been heard calling another male who has been seen around,” says Versteeg.

“It is a normal process, them moving on and calling in a new mate that quickly it's just what they do.”

Versteeg says they are grateful to Nelson Hyrdo and their Salmo volunteer for their assistance, but note they could always use more volunteers in that area.

If you want to know more about O.W.L. or get updates on Nel check out their website here.  

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