Rare Bird Also Known As Sea Hawk, or River Hawk Found Trapped, Hanging Upside Down
USACE: Bee Spring, KY. – On Friday, October 13th, the US Army Corps of Engineers at Nolin River Lake received a report of a large bird caught in a tree and could not fly away. The caller believed that the bird was a Bald Eagle. USACE staff responded to the area near the mouth of Brier Creek on Nolin River Lake Shoreline and found an Osprey with its left foot attached to a branch in a pine tree. It was hanging upside down approximately 30 feet off of the ground and could not free itself.
Conservation Officers with the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife were consulted. The KDFWR Officers recommended that Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky be notified. Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky is a nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured and sick birds of prey. USACE and Raptor Rehabilitation staff determined that the bird could likely be saved if it could be removed from the tree. The area could not be accessed with a bucket truck or ladders, making rescue problematic. Staff members involved were concerned that the bird could not be brought down safely.
While Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky worked to find help, USACE staff made a call to the US Forest Service Great Onyx Job Corps. John Pitonyak, Urban Forestry Instructor with the Job Corps, brought his students and gear to the area. They rigged the tree with ropes and climbed to the injured bird. After getting close, they secured the bird with a safety line, trimmed the limb it was trapped on, and lowered it to safety. USACE staff then secured the bird for transport and arranged for a volunteer from Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky to retrieve the bird.
“This was a real team effort,” said Deryck Rodgers, Manager with the US Army Corps of Engineers. “We are blessed to have concerned landowners, passionate volunteers, and partner agencies who care so much about the resources that we have at Nolin River Lake.” Rodgers went on to thank the Great Onyx Job Corps, “We would especially like to thank John Pitonyak, the urban forestry students, and the Great Onyx Job Corps for doing a job that no one else could do. Their willingness to help speaks highly of their program.”
It was reported that the bird will survive the event, however, recovery with osprey is a challenge. Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky staff commented that Osprey are very hard to get to eat in captivity. They are hopeful and placed the injured bird in a flight cage with another bird that is eating. The idea is that if the injured bird observes another Osprey eating it may help promote its survival instinct. That is, getting back to its normal routine of eating fish.
Osprey are becoming more common at Nolin River Lake and are often mistaken for hawks. They feed on fish and can often be seen soaring above the water. Patient observers can sometimes witness their skilled dives as they catch their prey. Osprey populations were greatly reduced until the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972. Since the banning of this chemical, Osprey have been a conservation success story, with populations growing steadily.
Nolin River Lake is managed for multiple purposes, including Environmental Stewardship. Protecting the natural resources of Nolin River Lake insures that habitat exists for raptors like Osprey and Bald Eagles to hunt and nest. If you would like to know more about the management of Nolin River Lake or this incident, please contact the Corps office at 270-286-4511 Monday through Friday between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.