A recent leisurely outing with friends on Shuswap Lake became a raptor rescue mission for Ed and Natalie Parent.
The Salmon Arm couple and company were out on the Parents’ pontoon boat July 23, when they witnessed a bald eagle that appeared to be stuck in the water. Concerned, they began making their way toward the bird.
In the roughly five minutes it took to reach it, the eagle managed to escape the water and take flight. That’s when Ed noticed another raptor, an osprey, in the lake not too far from where the eagle had been. Unlike the eagle, the osprey struggled unsuccessfully to return to the air.
“So we came pretty close with the boat and at first he tried to swim a little to the boat,” said Natalie. “You could tell he was done, poor bird, and then I guess maybe the motor or something scared him so he tried to swim away. So we backed off a bit and Ed grabbed a pool noodle and a towel and jumped in and grabbed him.”
“We had to rescue him – he was drowning,” Ed said. “I did give it some thought with regards to what it could do to me but you know, we thought it through, we wrapped its wings and talons with a towel.”
Ed was able to retrieve the osprey without issue.
“It folded its wings quite readily and didn’t fight me – it wanted to be rescued,” Ed said. “You could tell he was tired.”
Those still on the boat helped carefully bring the bird aboard. Natalie said at first it was thought the osprey was just wet, but it was quickly learned it had sustained an injury beneath its left wing.
“So what we were thinking is he and the eagle were fighting – you know how they fight sometimes in the air – and then they both went down,” Natalie said.
Once ashore, the bird was taken to the BC Wildlife Park east of Kamloops for rehabilitation.
The Parents said the BC Wildlife Park was happy to take the osprey, and that the bird is expected to make a full recovery.
“The last we heard is they had to stitch him up and they did end up putting him on antibiotics and they’re hand-feeding him which is normal for osprey,” Natalie said.
The Parents look forward to hearing from the wildlife park when it’s time to release the osprey back into the wild so they can be there for the occasion.
“We’re hoping they give us a call, that they’ll bring it back here and release it where it came from…,” said Natalie. “That would be fun, that would be a great end of the story if all of us could take him out there and let him free.”
Ed said there’s been some criticism about the rescue, but he believes he did the right thing.
“Some people will criticize that it’s Mother Nature at its finest and we took the food away from the eagle, but I don’t think we did that and I think the eagle was in distress itself and ended up flying away because of it…,” said Ed. “We’re getting some flack on that but you know what, sometimes Mother Nature needs to be rescued.”
In fact, Ed said this was not the first time he’s come to the rescue of feathered friends. Some years back, he used a net to fish out several ducklings from a storm sewer in front of his store. He then took the ducklings to the foreshore. Ed said the mother duck followed them by air to where her ducklings were released.
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