SANDPOINT — Two osprey chicks rescued on the Fourth of July are safe in the nest of a foster family this week.
Janie Veltkamp, director of Birds of Prey Northwest, said the chicks were placed in a nest on the St. Joe River Thursday. The addition of little ones to an existing nest is called "cross-fostering," Veltkamp said, and surrogate parents are very accepting of new chicks.
"They don't know how to count, they just know there is another mouth there and the dad has to do more fishing," Veltkamp said.
A passerby, Noah Harvey, witnessed the collision of the chicks' parents on July 3 and notified authorities. Harvey said one bird appeared to have died on impact, while the other was initially still moving its head, but stopped moving after a few minutes.
Veltkamp said, most likely, the adult birds were defending their nest from a third bird, miscalculating their course and colliding in a "freak accident." Osprey are monogamous and mate for life, she said. They also have a lot invested in their nests, so they do what they can to protect it.
After it was determined there were no parents at the nest, a rescue was organized with the help of Kim Woodruff, director of Sandpoint Parks and Recreation, Dennis McIntire with Bestway Tree Service, and BOPNW volunteers Judi Lundak and her daughter, Mya Jinright, and Chris Bessler from Keokee.
Only a few weeks old, the little ones were held at the BOPNW facility for 10 days before being placed in the nest. They required feeding every three hours, 30-40 minutes each time as they slowly digested the tiny bits of fish. The original plan was to be place the chicks with a foster parent at BOPNW when they were ready, but an active nest is better.
"When your parents are killed, the best possible thing that can happen to you is that you go in with another family of osprey," Veltkamp said.
On Tuesday, Veltkamp rescued two more chicks from a nest on Highway 3, so all four chicks were cross-fostered into three different nests on the St. Joe River.
Veltkamp, her husband Don Veltkamp, and wildlife biologist Wayne Melquist, went out by boat to identify appropriate, like-aged siblings. The birds were then banded with identifying leg bands and placed into their new nest homes-complete with engaged parents. Veltkamp said they birds were observed for some time to ensure they would all be accepted, and she will continue to check on them in the coming weeks.
Established in 1993, BOPNW is a federally permitted facility that provides medical treatment and rehabilitation to injured birds of prey with the ultimate goal of returning them to the wild. The nonprofit organization also promotes stewardship and conservation of raptors and owls through educational programs with live birds of prey. For information or to donate, visit birdsofpreynorthwest.org.
In the event of an injured bird of prey, contact BOPNW at 208-245-1367.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.