Monday, July 2, 2012

The Story of Kevin

Late yesterday afternoon, The Boy spied something clinging to the pool screen outside. When we ran outside to investigate, we found a young osprey with his talons tangled in the screen...

It was quite a sight!

We weren't quite sure how to go about disentangling him, as those talons - and that beak - were a bit intimidating!

The Boy (aka "The Bird Whisperer") first tried to gently pry those long talons from the screen, but eventually had to resort to using a knife to cut the screen from around his talons...

Once the osprey (which The Princess promptly named Kevin) was freed, we expected him to quickly fly away. Instead, he just sat on the ground, looking a bit stunned. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to inspect one of these beautiful creatures up close (albeit through the screen, as we were trying not to scare poor, bewildered Kevin) and took a few (ahem!) photos...

Kevin seemed as curious about us as we were about him. At first this thrilled us, but as time went on we became more concerned that he wasn't flying away. We noticed another osprey flying around and wondered if this might be one of Kevin's parents.

We decided to go inside and leave Kevin alone and just check on him periodically (plus, to be honest, the heat and humidity were starting to get to us!) I did some googling about Ospreys and determined that (a) they are pretty amazing raptors and (b) that Kevin was definitely a juvenile as he had buff feathers along his upper body and his eyes were brown. As they mature, a young Osprey's eyes will turn from brown to yellow. 

Other Fun Facts About Ospreys:

*Every inch of their bodies is designed for catching fish

* Their wing span can be up to 6 feet

* Ospreys and Owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible - allowing them to grasp slippery fish with two toes in front and two behind

*Ospreys have acute vision which can detect underwater objects from the air.

* Ospreys dive into the water feet first. They are able to hit the water at speeds up to 40 mph and can submerge and grab their prey up to three feet deep. Their nostrils close automatically when they hit the water. In contrast, Bald Eagles can only grab fish from the top of the water - they are not able to submerge.

When we went back out at dusk, Kevin was still there. The Boy caught a fish and tossed it to Kevin to see if he would eat. As soon as Kevin saw the fish flopping on the ground, he cocked his head and hopped over to it. Then he pounced, and grabbed the fish with his talons - and then he proceeded to chow down!

We hoped that after eating, Kevin would have the energy to fly away and return to his nest. Sadly, it seemed that Kevin was too young to master flying as he was still hanging out this morning (and still working on that, by now, extremely stinky fish!)

I began calling wildlife rehabilitation centers this morning and while we waited for a return call, the temperature began climbing. Poor Kevin looked miserable - he was panting and had all his feathers ruffled up, trying to cool off. We decided to spray him with some water from the hose to try to cool him and he loved that!

By this time, the kids had decided that it was "fate" that Kevin was still hanging around and had determined that he would make an excellent pet.


Thankfully, B.E.A.K.S. (Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary) called back and it was decided (by ME - the kids didn't get a vote!) to drive out to Big Talbot Island with Kevin and leave him to be nurtured by the professionals. Cindy, the lady in charge of B.E.A.K.S, explained to me that they have been getting lots of young Ospreys - they try to leave the nest before they have really mastered flying and many of them end up starving to death.

We, very carefully, wrapped Kevin in a towel and put him in a laundry basket and began the long drive.

Kevin wasn't very fond of the towel, however, and we had to keep stopping by the side of the road to rewrap his wings so that he wouldn't injure himself...or us!

We finally arrived and left Kevin in a kennel by the gate to be retrieved and cared for by the wonderful people at B.E.A.K.S.

We spotted a few other birds wandering around before we left...

And as we left I felt compelled to take a few more photos. Because, the manicured flowerbeds and groomed palm trees and mouse shaped topiaries you see when you visit Florida - that's not REALLY Florida. It's fake and artificial and touristy.

The real Florida can still be found, here and there, in little pockets that the developers haven't found yet.

The real Florida is Palmettos, and Spanish Moss...

and Resurrection Ferns...

And canopy roads.

The real Florida is floating on a tube down a spring fed river - not Splash Mountain. It's Ospreys, Eagles, Manatees and Alligators - not singing rodents.

It's hot...yet graceful and full of beauty.

And when you can find a little pocket of old Florida, you should savor it and soak it in...because there's not much of it left anymore.

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