Glades Wildlife Refuge: Osprey Rescue

November 1, 2011

Brian Johnson with a rescued Osprey

This past summer, Brian Johnson, Preserve Manager at our Glades Wildlife Refuge and Peek Preserve (and local bird rescuing hero), saved the lives of two young Ospreys. Brian has been a nature enthusiast and bird watcher for over 35 years, but he can still be surprised.

The first Osprey was found along the side of the road by local residents who called Brian for help. At first it looked as though the bird had been hit by a car, which—sadly—is not an uncommon occurrence. However, Brian noticed that the young Osprey’s wings and legs were working perfectly fine, it just seemed very weak. Its condition continued to worsen as the day went on, so Brian took the Osprey to Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, a native wildlife rehabilitation center in Medford, NJ. The specialists there informed him that the bird was simply malnourished; it had been left alone too soon and could not hunt properly on its own.

The second Osprey’s tale happens much less frequently. In July, a severe thunderstorm hit Glades. The gusty winds (over 90 mph) brought down three Osprey nests. One of the young birds was restored to its nest by a local landowner. Brian discovered the second downed nest after spotting the parent birds circling—and screaming—above their now-empty nest. Their chicks had not survived the storm. Then, after trudging 300 yards across the marsh with water up to his waist, Brian found another downed nest and a displaced chick.

Brian rebuilt a platform for the nest and placed the orphaned chick inside. Miraculously, after 30 minutes and only a day after losing their young, the parent ospreys took in the new bird as if it were their own. Brian frequently checks back in on the happy family and reports that they are all still there together.

Ospreys considered a “threatened” species in New Jersey, so Brian’s actions are even more heroic! If you find an animal in need, please don’t hesitate to call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation center (a list is below).


New Jersey: