Volunteer Paul Miller releases an osprey chick onto a platform high above Casco Bay. (Courtesy: Mary Preston)
FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Strong winds and torrential rains swept a nesting pair of ospreys and their three, five-week-old chicks out of their nest high in the trees above Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park late last week.
"We came down to the shore and discovered the nest had come down during the thunderstorm," stated park manager, Andy Hutchinson. "The three young osprey in the nest had not learned to fly yet, so we were concerned that they had not survived the fall."
Park staff quickly located one of the young birds near the base of the tree where their nest had been located, but the other two were no where to be found. Rangers fed the bird fish and kept it in a box overnight before setting out to help the ospreys rebuild.
Paul Miller, a friend of Hutchinson's volunteered to secure a wooden platform in the crown of the tree.
"The platform part was a little....I was a little worried about that because it was kind of big," said Miller. "They recommend it be three by three and it was a little heavy."
When the rescue team started moving supplies over to the island where the birds make their nest, they made a miraculous discovery.
"Lo and behold, on the ledge over here, we saw mom and the other two juveniles," explained Hutchinson. "We really didn't think we would have perhaps any survivors from that 50 foot fall from the tree, but we ended up having all three young survive that fall even though they hadn't learned how to fly yet."
Miller hoisted the birds up to the platform and released them as their parents watched from overhead.
"Actually, while we were putting the birds up there, the parents were swooping around and hollering at us and stuff. That's why we had the hard hats on," recalled Miller.
"It was just a lot of fun, a good adventure," he added.
"Ospreys have been nesting here for as long as people can remember in this area, even before this park was established in 1973," said Hutchinson. "Back in the 1700's Googins Island was named Fish Hawk Island, which is the other name for an osprey, so that tells you a little bit about how long they have been nesting on that island."
Thanks to some helping hands and a little luck, he hopes this new nest will host ospreys for a long time to come.
"The resiliency of them was just unbelievable," he remarked. "It was the best possible outcome we could have hoped for."