View Full Version : Not great photographs, but a sad story to be shared

Diane Miller
07-17-2015, 04:27 PM
I've been watching an osprey nest for several months now, and three gorgeous youngsters have just fledged -- two males and a female. Here is the female admiring one of her brothers practicing flying -- 4 days ago. (The first male started hopping above the nest 12 days ago.)


I hadn't seen the female fly -- she seemed to be a little slower in development than the two males -- but I could easily have missed it. Then yesterday I went back out early in the morning, to find her on the ground a couple of hundred feet from the nest. The property manager drove by shortly, and we decided if she hadn't flown in an hour I would call bird rescue and he would let them into the locked gate. In the meantime I got a better look at her as she slowly moved toward some shelter. I had the 600mm on the 7D2 so was able to get some shots without approaching her closely. She seemed alert and wasn't panting, but wasn't able to move well. Although I kept my distance, she didn't seem to be bothered by my presence. We both finally repositioned ourselves so I could get this picture. Sadly, she is looking at Mama here, who is perched in a nearby tree, looking back at her.



I called animal rescue and then I had to leave. Although it's a long drive for them, the manager told me they arrived within half an hour (maybe a more local volunteer). I checked with them several hours later and they said it was a broken wrist. The woman I spoke with went back to check on her and came back to report she had unexpectedly died.

She didn't have any damage to the feathers on her body, so I can't guess what might have happened -- I'm sure there are a lot of possibilities. I haven't seen even a hint of any fighting or any sort of dispute among the siblings. And I have a feeling she may have been hurt the day before, when I wasn't there.

I'm haunted by the fact that several days earlier I was there when I heard a strange buzzing and turned around to see a drone heading straight for the nest, very purposefully. It hovered about 10-15 ft above the nest for a while then went away, well out of sight.


I let the property manager know about it right away, and he has been trying to track down who it might have been. Fat chance. My husband says there is a bounty on them in Denver. The other day an air tanker working a fire near Los Angeles had to be grounded because one was flying in the vicinity of the fire!!!!

adrian dancy
07-17-2015, 07:22 PM
I wonder if there was any visible trauma to the bird's leg which would make the drone the likely cause for the bird's injury. It seems to use a drone at such close proximity to the nest was the very height of stupidity and recklessness. I think drones which may have a place are a step too far in technology development and are surely a magnet for idiots.
A sad story.

Diane Miller
07-17-2015, 08:15 PM
Idiot magnets, indeed! (And not the only devices that should be so labeled.) We just finished watching the evening news and YET ANOTHER firefighting aircraft in LA was grounded because of a drone in the immediate area.

I was looking at the legs and they seemed OK (no blood at least), although the poor bird was hobbling very slowly, inches at a time.

Sandy Witvoet
07-18-2015, 12:11 PM
A very sad story indeed. I, too, believe that drone use is totally out of control. One note... a bird's wrist is actually at the "bend" of the wing.... the youngster's left wing seems to be at a very odd angle... and is there blood on her chest right next to her wrist?

Gabriela Plesea
07-20-2015, 12:18 PM
Hello Diane!

I apologise profusely for coming in so late, although I did manage a brief look at this Sequence the other day I was unable to reply straight away.

I am very touched by those frames and so sad for your beautiful young female osprey - the second image shows her in great distress and looking up to mom for help - this moved me tremendously. I once considered buying a drone but soon realised there were consequences to using it, later thought of a cam boulder... still wondering about it. Drones are potentially dangerous to wildlife and especially to avian species, this osprey might have been frightened by its appearance and perhaps got injured as he was trying to leave the nest, I guess we'll never know?

Diane, despite the tragic ending of your story I feel you have captured something well worth sharing - thank you so much for this. Perhaps sending the images (together with a description of the events) to the local newspaper or a birding magazine will raise some awareness of the damage drones can do, especially when handled by people with no knowledge or respect for wildlife.

Warmest regards,

Jackie Schuknecht
07-23-2015, 02:24 PM
Heartbreaking, I guess there is no way to find out who was flying the drone. Well photographed Diane, though hard to read and see the pictures:(