Among the items on display at the Audubon booth at this year’s Spring Arts Festival, next to the T-shirts, pamphlets, children’s art, and the two live owls, courtesy of the Homosassa Wildlife Rescue, was the poster explaining who to call for injured birds. Fortuitous, as well as prophetic, since an injured osprey had been sighted on Atsena Otie by a kayaker who had used this information and called it in.
Local bird rescuer extraordinaire Doug Maple borrowed a boat, enlisted a volunteer, and headed out to the island. Initially unable to locate the osprey, Doug asked the kayaker who had called in the sighting to text a picture of where the bird had been seen-which turned out to be about twenty yards from the old dock, in some fairly thick underbrush. Using a net and a towel, Doug was finally able to secure the osprey, load her into a carrier, and motor back to the main marina, where they were met by Janie Veltkamp, a well-known raptor expert.
Janie determined that this osprey-a female- was a good candidate for rehabilitation, having suffered no serious damage to wings or head. Since Stacy and Mike, the Homosassa Wildlife volunteers who were displaying the two owls- a screech owl and a great horned – were heading back to the facility, they transported the osprey, who could then be examined and treated by animal vets.
The Cedar Key Bird Rescue Program, slightly more than a year old, has responded to over thirty calls, rescued numerous injured water fowl, and continues to recruit and train volunteers. Although not all calls result in successful outcomes, the diligence and persistence of the volunteers, make this fledgling program one of Cedar Key’s most worthwhile endeavors.