VIDEO UPDATE: Nel takes flight!

Nel accompanies foster mother to 180-foot cage with a trout-stocked pool at O.W.L. Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta.

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Nel the osprey has taken flight.

The final surviving chick that was being filmed via live webcam from a nest near Nelson earlier this year was witnessed soaring across her 180-foot enclosure this morning by staff at O.W.L Rehabilitation Society in Delta.

“Yesterday she was pumping her wings, getting the idea,” said bird care worker Martina Versteeg. “We went to check on her this morning and she flew right across, the whole length of the cage, up and down.”

Versteeg said the staff are thrilled by this development. “Nel has taken flight,” she said.

Nelson’s avian namesake is joined in her enclosure by a Langley-area osprey who has been acting as a foster mother during Nel’s recovery.

“They’re chatting back and forth still, which is a good sign. They need companionship. The mom seems to be happy Nel’s flying. She looks around like ‘hey, I didn’t know you could do that’. It’s pretty exciting,” she said.

The next step in Nel’s process will involve figuring out how to hunt. Though she has already been observed pouncing on a live trout, she has yet to catch one herself. Her latest enclosure is fully stocked with fish donated by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.

“They’re kind enough to donate live trout for our osprey and eagles every year. We’re getting in a brand new shipment and basically we just provide the environment for her to learn,” said Versteeg.

Staff are encouraged by Nel’s current health. Though she lost some weight after reaching maturity, a stage that is normal for developing osprey, she now has a “good active weight”.

Depending on how quickly her hunting skills progress, Versteeg estimates Nel may be released back to the wild within the next month. If so, she will be able to join the wild migration out of the Kootenays with her local kin.

“We’re hoping to encourage her flight a little more, and work on endurance. She needs to build up those skills to get that migration energy,” said Versteeg.

Within the next few weeks Nel will be fit with a metal tracking ring attached to her leg. It will allow her to be tracked and monitored across North America.

“So if we do ever find her again, if she flies by one of our cameras, we can read the numbers and say ‘hey, that’s the one we rescued from Nelson’,” she said.

To keep up on the latest updates, follow O.W.L. on Twitter @OWLRehab.

TIMELINE

June 12, 13 and 15 -Osprey chicks born

June 20 – A power outage is reported in Grohman Creek. The osprey cam loses service.

June 21 – Online fans speculate about the disappearance of Nelson, the osprey father.

June 23 – Nelson Hydro employees discuss options to help the mother and chicks.

June 24 – Nelson Hydro begins delivering fish to the osprey nest. The first chick dies.

June 25 – Employee discovers Nelson’s corpse under a power line during a ground inspection.

June 26 – Nelson Hydro commits to feed the osprey chicks until they’re fully grown.

July 3 – Second chick dies. Mother osprey stops feeding Nel.

July 4 – Nel is removed from the nest and transported to O.W.L Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta.

July 31 – Nel is moved to an outside enclosure with a foster mother.

August 11 – Nel pounces on her first live trout.

August 24 – Nel is relocated to an outside enclosure with a trout-stocked pool.

August 25 – Nel takes flight for the first time.

 

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