Osprey injured by a train takes flight after feather transplant

This is a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time but it has a happy ending.

When volunteer animal rescuer Joe Rocco got a call that an osprey had been clipped by a train last month in Greenport, he thought its chance of surviving was slim to none. Calling it nothing short of a miracle in a Zoom interview, Rocco told FOX 5 NY that he found the bird hopping around in the marshland with no apparent damage other than its flight feathers.

"The wind blew one of the ospreys into the oncoming train and then it took the osprey into the marsh and it couldn't get up from there," Rocco said.

And less than a month after its injury, the osprey, named Piper, was released. It underwent a rare procedure at The Raptor Trust in New Jersey where it essentially had a feather transplant.

"I dropped him off on Saturday, I picked him up Tuesday and he was flying around like nothing happened on Wednesday," he said. 

A process called imping replaces the damaged feathers with those from a deceased osprey.

Experts say that without its flight feathers the bird couldn't fend for itself and wouldn't make this year's migration. 

Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center's Jim MacDougall said this was one of the most unique scenarios. The center rescues approximately 4,000 animals each year.

"Generally what they'll do is at the shaft they'll put either a piece of very strong wood or maybe some carbon filament material into there and nowadays they'll use epoxy to glue the one wing onto the new feather," he said. "He's going to live a long, hopefully, happy life. Hopefully, he's going to be perfectly normal."


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