Osprey banding in New London

Osprey banding in New London

Bird trackers took to the skies in New London Tuesday morning, to give a helping hand to a banding program for Ospreys.

Line mechanics Mark Rathje and Justin Stanke knew they had little chance of sneaking up on a mother osprey and her two chicks.

"You got to keep your wits about you. Hopefully she won't attack you. Which I don't think they will," said Mark Rathje, WE Energies Line Mechanic.

"That's what I'm afraid of. They got some claws on them. She's a little mad," said Jason Stanke, WE Energies Line Mechanic.

"You're up there. You really don't know that you're going to see until you get above, and you approach them," said Rathje.

The WE Energies workers retrieved the five-week old chicks from a nest in New London's Memorial Park Tuesday morning.

"Sometimes you think aw, they're going to be nice, and tiny, and you get up there and they're the size of a football," said Stanke.

The nearby Feather Rehabilitation Center coordinates the banding project to monitor the osprey population in the area.

The birds are weighed in grams.

"1562," said one volunteer.

That's about three and a half pounds already.

"They're not going to starve up there. They're at a phenomenal weight," said Pat Fisher, The Feather Rehabilitation Center.

And the birds were banded too.

"These birds are logged into the bird banding lab out in Maryland. They keep track of every bird banded in the country," said Fisher.

Fisher says the young ospreys will learn to fish in the coming weeks, but now, they're relatively harmless.

"They don't bite you. And they don't know what to do. You still got to remember they're big birds, but they're still baby birds. And they don't know what to do with their feet at this point," said Fisher.

After just minutes on the ground, the chicks were on their way back to the nest.

"It will probably be a good month. They'll be up there, jumping above the nest and catching the wind. But it will be a month before they actually take off, to the lights and trees," said Fisher.

Over the last couple of weeks, researchers have banded birds at seven locations around New London, including four on Tuesday.

Click to the left for WEB EXTRA video.

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