June 1, 2013

Osprey takes wing


---- — AKWESASNE — An osprey struck by a car found eager humans ready to help.

The bird, a type of large hawk that lives along rivers, lakes and sea so they can feast on their main diet of fish, swooped into danger early on May 8 in the vicinity of St. Regis and Johnson roads in the Akwesasne Territory. 

St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police responded to a call about the injured bird, which at first was thought to be an eagle because it was so large, according to a news release from Akwesasne.

The osprey was unable to fly.

With no tribal conservation unit of its own, police contacted the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne on the Canadian side of the border.

Conservation Officers Taylor Mitchell and Josh Mitchell took the bird to the Wild Bird Care Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. 

“The conservation officers were familiar with the center, as they’d previously taken an injured Canadian goose there,” the release said.

“Luckily, (the osprey) had only sustained bruising from the accident and had been initially too stunned to fly away.” 


The center kept the bird for two weeks, nursing it back to health.

Wild Bird Care Centre employees believed the osprey was a female due to its size, as they are typically larger than males.

There was some concern that the bird may have had to abandon eggs or its young while in captivity, but center staff thought it was still too early in the mating season for that to be the case. 

Also, female and male share parenting responsibilities, so it was likely the father bird would have taken care of eggs or offspring during the mother’s two weeks away.


Osprey, easily identifiable by their brown-and-white coloring and large wingspan, have a significant presence in Akwesasne as one of the area’s largest birds of prey.

So when the conservation officers picked up the raptor in Ottawa and returned it Akwesasne, it was greeted with honor.

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe staff and chiefs gathered at “The Point” in Kana:takon (St. Regis) to return it to the wild.

First, the release said, “Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Chief Joe Lazore spoke to the large caged hawk in Mohawk, offering words of thankfulness and gratitude for all birds and creatures. 

“Tobacco was offered, as the bird remained still and quiet.”

The hawk’s carrier was arranged to face the wide bay where the St. Lawrence and St. Regis rivers meet. 

When it was opened, with the open water beckoning, “the bird hesitated,” the release said. “Conservation Officer Taylor Mitchell reached into the cage to gently nudge the bird forward. 

“Luckily, she didn’t use her claws or beak to attack him.”

Within a few seconds, the osprey took a step out of its carrier “and hesitated again briefly before jumping to the ground, leaping forward and then flying effortlessly across the bay until the group could no longer see it.”

“Ospreys are a constant fixture in Akwesasne, and we respect them and all wildlife,” Lazore said. “We’re happy to help this hawk return to the wild, where it can continue hunting and fishing along our waterways, just as we do.”


Returning the bird to the wild was symbolic “of the collaboration and cooperation between the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe,” the release said.

“Very positive results come from this cooperation and sharing of resources,” said Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell. 

“It is nice that we can rely on each other’s services and staff for the betterment of all of Akwesasne, regardless of where the jurisdictions end. 

“Our conservation officers should also be acknowledged for their quick response and care to this hawk.”

Mohawk Council officials also expressed gratitude to the Wild Bird Care Centre for the hospitality shown to the birds from Akwesasne. 

The facility is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to helping injured and orphaned birds.

It accept monetary donations, as well as gifts of blankets, birdseed, fruits and berries and many other necessary supplies.

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