Valley Springs resident Jesse Norried grew up practicing falconry with his mother and is “always looking” during his Highway 12 commute, which boasts a number of carnivorous birds’ nests.
On March 25th, he spotted an osprey sitting on the side of the road between Wallace and Clements. Norried knew this was unusual, and immediately pulled over. The bird had a head wound and scratches on his legs. He seemed stunned, and did not protest when Norried wrapped him up in a sweatshirt and returned to his car.
Norried drove toward the Jackson Feed Barn with the osprey in his arms, stopping along the way at a fruit stand to obtain a box to put him in. The Feed Barn is a designated drop-off location for wounded wildlife, and Norried was able to transfer the osprey into the care of Pat Benik, the raptor team leader for Tri County Wildlife Care in Amador.
Upon inspecting the bird, Benik deduced that he was young, but was possibly old enough to nest and was hit by a car while bringing food to his young. He also may have been attacked by an eagle trying to steal his fish.
Although his injuries were not too severe, Benik had concerns that the osprey might not survive due to the species’ poor ability to function in captivity. An osprey’s diet is 90 percent fish, and it does not like to eat in captivity, often causing it to starve. Handling an osprey may also cause it extreme stress and subsequent death.
Phenomenally, after five days of tedious care, the osprey recovered from his wounds and was ready to be released. On March 20th, he was taken back to his previous location near Wallace, away from the roadside, and tossed into the air where he took flight and soared toward the tree line.
“Thanks to the kind man who brought him in so he could get a second chance at freedom!” wrote Tri County Wildlife Care on their Facebook page.
Subsequently, there have been reported sightings of what some believe to be the osprey back in his nest.