Offer to use the satellite to track a rescued bird of prey caught in a TV antenna


Bird enthusiasts are hoping to get permission to fit a satellite tracker to a rare adult osprey that has been trapped in the tower of a television antenna in South Australia.

Port Lincoln Osprey volunteers are monitoring the bird and expect to release it in the Louth Bay area at the end of the week after it was rescued on Friday and treated for a leg injury.

More than 40 pairs

It is estimated that there are around 40 breeding pairs of birds left in South Australia.

Louth Bay resident Des Fauser said the osprey and its mate roost a few times a week on the antenna tower at a nearby property.

He said his wife Lorraine noticed early Friday morning that one of the birds was stuck halfway up the tower, hanging upside down by one foot.

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA District Ranger Peter Wilkins retrieved the male osprey and he was treated at a veterinary clinic, where an X-ray ruled out broken bones.

The distressing sight of the male osprey trapped by his claw in the Louth Bay television antenna tower.(Provided: Bazz Hockaday, Port Lincoln Osprey)

Raptor consultant Ian Falkenberg said the bird was recovering from the injury to its leg and also from bruising on its wings which would impact its flight.

“It was just one of those very bizarre accidents that would have caused this bird to take off and ultimately it would have died very quickly if it weren’t for the parks staff and other members of the public,” Mr. Falkenberg said.

Mr Falkenberg said the swift actions of locals had saved the raptor, one of an estimated 40 pairs surviving in South Australia.

“Yesterday he was starting to preen, his feathers, he’s sitting on his two legs, he’s feeding,” Mr Falkenberg said.

Port Lincoln Osprey monitors a pair of raptors nesting on a barge in Port Lincoln using CCTV vision, which is streamed live on YouTube.

The group has coordinated the banding of nest chicks and over the past two years satellite trackers have been placed on five chicks.

A man holds a large osprey by its feet, balancing its outstretched wing as it wears the satellite harness.
Ian Falkenberg says the tracker will show the endangered bird’s migration and feeding habits.(Provided: Fran Solly)

golden opportunity

Mr Falkenberg said he hoped a permit would be granted to fit a satellite tracker to the bird rescued from Louth Bay.

It would be the first time an adult bird has been tagged with a tracker.

He said data obtained from satellite tags helped rewrite the book on osprey knowledge.

A bird tagged in 2020, called Solly, had traveled 300 kilometers from Port Lincoln, defying expectations that birds only traveled 40 kilometers from their nest.

Solly died last year after being electrocuted on a utility pole in Streaky Bay.

A large osprey flies through the clear blue sky with outstretched wings.
Osprey chicks were fitted with satellite harnesses at Port Lincoln, Thistle Island and Price on the Yorke Peninsula in 2021.(Provided: Fran Solly)

A chick tagged at Thistle Island, southeast of Port Lincoln, last November had traveled 400 kilometers and briefly spent time inland in the Flinders Ranges.

Mr Falkenberg said tagging an adult bird would provide key information about the species and help manage its survival.

“This presents a golden opportunity to learn more about adult birds,” Falkenberg said.


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