Last year I wrote a few blog entries about a pair of ospreys that had built a nest on the traffic light of one of the drawbridges where I work. In the first entry, Battle of the Birds, I talked about how this couple would build their nest, and then the Department of Transportation would disassemble it based on a permit from Fish and Wildlife because the nest was in a construction zone. The next day the nest would be back. Finally, the pair were nesting on eggs, so their home could no longer be disassembled. They just decided not to replace that particular traffic light. Yay!
Unfortunately, in an entry a few months later entitled Ospreys as Analogies, I had to break the news that the chicks never hatched, and that the ospreys had eventually abandoned the nest. This really upset me for a long time because I was drawing parallels to my life. They were struggling, I am struggling. I desperately wanted to see them succeed, because I needed that sense of hope that maybe I could turn things around in my life, too. Alas, no.
So imagine my delight when they came back to try again this year. This time they made their nest on the traffic light at the opposite end of the bridge, which meant I had to walk under it every time I’d leave or come to work. Mama Osprey did not like this one little bit. She’d squawk at me every time, day or night. I got into the habit of speaking calmly to her. “It’s okay, Mama. I’m not here to hurt your babies.” Usually she’d settle down then. It was like she was telling me she saw me coming, so I better behave myself, and by responding, I was telling her I wasn’t trying to be sneaky.
And then one day as I was walking off the bridge, I looked up, and oh, joy! Two ugly little baby bird heads poked themselves up over the edge of the nest. She’d done it! Her babies had hatched! I was so proud.
For the next few weeks I’d watch her with binoculars. Papa Osprey would come and bring fish, and when it would rain, Mama would stand over the babies with her wings spread to shelter them. It was really a beautiful sight. Nature taking its course. God is in his heaven and all’s right with the world, as Robert Browning would say.
Then the other day I got a phone call from a coworker who said he had bad news. My heart sank. I knew it was the ospreys before he even told me. Apparently Mama had been hit by a car and she had been found lying in a ditch, her wing broken in three places. It brought tears to my eyes.
Fortunately BEAKS came to the rescue. BEAKS, which stands for Bird Emergency Aid & Kare Sanctuary, is an organization here in Jacksonville, Florida that rehabilitates injured birds. They took Mama in. But my coworker said the babies were still in the nest, and Papa was nowhere to be found. I was freaking out. Were we going to have to watch these babies starve to death? I don’t think I could have handled that.
But I spoke to my supervisor today and he told me to check out this article on line. According to the Florida Times-Union, the babies were later rescued via a cherry picker, and reunited with Mama at BEAKS. This is a picture of them, below, with Mama’s wing wrapped up. The article includes a video that shows the amazing rescue.
It’s looking like Mama may never fly again, but when the babies are ready they will be released into the wild. So there is a happy ending to this tale. It may not be pretty, it may even be a bit messy and painful, and I certainly feel horrible for Papa, who finds himself all alone, but thanks to BEAKS, the very best was made of a bad situation.
To learn how to donate to BEAKS, visit their Facebook page. They are a very worthy organization and definitely need our support to keep doing their good work.
Update: A coworker told me that Papa Osprey stood in the empty nest with a fish in his beak for hours today. Heartbreaking.
[Image credit: Jacksonville.com]