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Birds of prey rescued from Gulf Coast

Two birds of prey affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have made their way to Bubba and Friends Wildlife Rehabilitation outside Zebulon. The young ospreys were abandoned by their parents near the Mississippi coast and were unable to feed themselves. ’If the parents had been eating oil soaked fish it’s entirely possible it killed them,’ said certified rehabilitator and director of Bubba and Friends Steve Hicks. ‘They’re between 4 and 6 weeks old and it’s very unusual for the parents to leave them unattended.’ The next step is teaching the birds how to fly and hunt in the habitats they need to become accustomed to in order to be successfully released into the wild. By the time they are released, the young ospreys will have six-foot wingspans but they will start flight training and fishing in two to three weeks. Hicks said Bubba and Friends needs two canoes, since john boats and motors frighten the birds, making catching them next to impossible. He’s hoping the canoes will be donated for the training. ’The main thing we need the canoes for is water rescue for the ospreys,’ he said. ‘It takes them a few times to get the hang of fishing. They don’t have the maneuvering skills right away and when they hit the water they just sit there. Aluminum canoes would be perfect because we can make modifications so when we snatch the ospreys out of the water, we have somewhere to put them.’ The independently owned and operated 501c3 nonprofit rehabilitation center is not funded by state or federal programs and depends on donations to continue providing care for injured or malnourished birds of prey. For information or to make a donation, call 770-567-1852 or e-mail bubbanfriends01@yahoo.com.

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