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Osprey chick gets foster mom; rescue operation gets spotlight

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
July 10th, 2014

The story continues about a baby osprey chick who garnered national attention after a live webcast allowed people to watch, in real time, the saga of his family unfold. The Nelson Hydro webcam showed the Osprey family first lose two chicks, then the father, when he was electrocuted by a power line.

Distressed viewers then saw the remaining mother and chick founder, as the mother refused to leave the nest to feed – which is where Tammy Swan, with Crazy Buzzard Falconry, comes into the picture.

Swan runs a Salmo-based bird rescue operation and volunteers for Delta-based Orphaned Wild Life (OWL) Rehabilitation Centre. She has rescued bald eagles, pygmy owls, Great Horned owls, a macaw, merlins, and more.

“We get between five and 10 rescues a year, maybe more,” Swan said. “This time of year, it’s babies and fledglings. In the fall and winter, it’s usually starvation. And throughout the year, we see the car collisions, too.”

Swan (who acknowledges the irony of her last name) was following the osprey saga online, and was concerned for Lil Nel, as the osprey chick (who is being called ‘she’, but whose gender remains unclear) has been dubbed.

“Someone literally came crashing through my door, saying, ‘You’ve got to do something about this bird’,” Swan said. “I contacted Nelson Hydro and offered my help, basically as an ambulance attendant – I could offer first aid and transportation to OWL.”

After a complicated process requiring permission from Fish and Wildlife to remove the chick from the nest, Nelson Hydro and the supervising biologist used a bucket truck to remove the chick and hand him over to Swan’s care. Swan said Lil Nel was dehydrated, and after providing basic first aid, food and hydration, she transported the little bird to Delta, where she is now living with a foster osprey mom (You can see her progress at https://www.facebook.com/pages/OWL-Orphaned-Wildlife-Rehabilitation-Society/311582845544617?fref=ts ). She’s learning to feed and thriving.

As for the biological mom, Swan said she’ll likely abandon the nest, but come back next year and start over.

While the osprey story is a neat one, it’s a drop in the bucket, compared to the feathered friends around which Swan is surrounded. There’s Sam and Geronimo, Harris hawks who are fundamental to her falconry business, Don Quixote, a permanently disabled Great Horned owl who now helps Swan deliver educational talks and provide pest deterrent for clients, Bailey, a rescued umbrella cockatoo who was rehabilitated by Castlegar’s Total Pet then placed with the Swans, and Q, a guard parrot (green-winged macaw) rescued from a grow op between Salmo and Ymir.

“There were several of them at the grow op – they were his burglar alarms,” said Swan, explaining the owner took some of the birds with him, while others were killed by birds of prey. Q was the only one rescued by the Swans. “She screams every time someone comes into the house, and shewill attack. She’s a great guard bird.”

The Swans also have three kids (one grown and having flown the nest), a wiener dog, two cats and a hamster – and Swan said she’s following her life’s passion.

“My whole life, since I was able to walk, I’ve been rescuing,” she said. “You’ll laugh at me, but when I was little, after it rained, I’d pick up worms off the street to keep them from getting run over.”

She spent two years travelling to the coast to get her falconry apprenticeship, and is now, five years later, working to achieve her International Wildlife Rehabilitation Certificate so she can rehabilitate birds in her home, instead of sending them to OWL.

Swan said she can take donations (which would go toward things like syringes, sharps, texts, etc), and she could always use donations of towels, but she’s not yet a registered charity and cannot issue tax receipts. She also encouraged people wanting to help out to donate to OWL, where she works as a volunteer.

 

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