Osprey banding underway
Volunteers working along Wolf River
By John Faucher
Morbid humidity and excessive heat didn’t stop a group of volunteers and licensed bird banders from the Feather Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center this week.
Pat Fisher, a bird rehabber and licensed bander said the group successfully banded six young ospreys on the Wolf River Wednesday, July 1.
Three of the birds were at a nesting platform on the Wolf River at Larsen’s Ditch and three at the Jennings Road access in the Mukwa State Wildlife Area.
Six more birds were banded Friday, July 3 at locations near Winneconne.
Fisher said they planned to reach four more nests in the area on July 6, and additional nests in New London and Manawa by the end of this week.
Why band osprey?
Fisher who has been banding osprey since the early 2000’s, said banding studies help in tracking the bird’s migrations and they provide researchers with valuable information on longevity and mortality rates.
Banding studies also play an important role in helping scientists and the public understand how environmental factors like mercury, influence the species.
Bob Welch, a fellow bird bander and retired science teacher from Waupaca works with Fisher to band the osprey. Welch is the official pole climber where utility equipment cannot be used.
He also works with numerous interns and students each year to teach them about birds and banding protocol.
On July 1, six of Welch’s interns ranging in ages from post college graduate to high school sophomores joined along with the group at Larsen’s Ditch and Mukwa Wildlife areas.
“Without young people getting involved and learning how to do this, it wouldn’t be happening anymore,” said Fisher.
“We’re not getting any younger,” she said as she wpped sweat away with a bandanna watching Welch ascend yet another pole.
Fisher is in her 80s and Welch is approaching 70.
Jamie Schilmgen, a recent University of Wisconsin -tevens Point graduate watched intently as Welch lowered down a young osprey to be banded.
Schilmgen majored in wildlife and is an intern with Welch.
Once the birds were lowered, she helped volunteers Virginia Halverson and Mike Young take measurements and relay information.
Young, a retired conservation warden and Halverson have assisted Fisher at the Feather for many years.
“Mike’s been with me since the beginning,” said Fisher. “He’s been a blessing.”
“Well you know Pat. Since she’s got her hooks into you, there’s no choice,” said Young.
For more information, visit Feather Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center’s Facebook page.