Avian expert rescues injured osprey after photographer finds bird in marsh

    Photographer Rob Libonati spends a lot of time documenting nature. 

    The Little Egg Harbor resident, who operates the Mystic Island, NJ Community Thoughts page on Facebook, was snapping away along Great Bay Boulevard this morning when he stumbled upon an injured osprey in a marsh just off the roadway. 

    Libonati, while a naturalist, isn’t a wildlife expert, so he says he didn’t know what to do to personally help the bird.

    “I contacted Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, and advised him of the situation,” he says. “He immediately responded, carefully grabbed the bird, put it in a box, and drove it for treatment.”

    Since the bird was grounded, Wurst says it was clear that it was suffering from a fractured wing. He then consulted with a rehabilitator and state zoologists about the diagnosis. 

    His theory is that the osprey had possibly struck telephone pole wires along the side of the road. The expert says that the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ is currently investigating how the wires can be enhanced so they’re more visible to birds. 

    Libonai is grateful for the response. 

    “People like Ben Wurst are true professionals, and their hard work and dedication to helping our wildlife often goes unnoticed,” he says. “Even under an awful situation like this, it was great observing a wildlife professional in action. Ben should be commended for all that he does. I know firsthand that the ospreys sure do!”

    Wurst recommends that anyone who finds an injured bird to contact a local NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife-licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Click here for a list. Alternatively, contact the local police department or humane societies to see if they can help rescue the animal, he adds. 

    Ospreys, also known as fish hawks, are birds of prey that summer at the Jersey Shore after migrating from their wintering grounds in Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean. The population hit an all-time high in the Garden State last year. 

    Learn more about Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s Osprey Project: http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/protecting/projects/osprey/

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.