Alex and Wendy Santantonio often notice objects floating by their waterfront home in Maryland, usually pieces of driftwood or other debris. So when Alex saw something brown floating by, he didn’t think much of it. He grabbed his binoculars, just in case, and was glad he did.
“I walked by the windows that look out over the water and just happened to see something floating along,” Santantonio told The Dodo. “So I grabbed our binoculars and took a look and saw that it was an osprey.”
Santantonio thought the osprey might be fishing, but then he noticed the bird’s wings were strangely spread out across the water. This bird wasn’t fishing — he was drowning.
“We ran outside,” Santantonio said. “Our kayaks were already down by the water because we’d been out the day before. The water isn’t very deep there, so we didn’t even throw our life jackets on, just jumped right in.
The Santantonios soon realized the osprey was a baby. As they circled in their kayaks, they hoped the bird would find the energy to move. Once they confirmed he needed help, they attempted lifting him out using their kayak paddles. The couple was surprised that, for a young bird, he was quite heavy.
“We slowly got him to stand on the paddle a little at a time,” Santantonio said. “Once we got close, I scooped my paddle handle under him and he grabbed on with both feet just long enough for me to pop him up on the rocks, then he climbed up to the higher rocks to recover.”
The Santantonios posted a video of the rescue here:
As they watched the osprey on the rocks, the couple felt relieved.
“Might sound strange, but we were so proud,” Santantonio said.
The couple monitored the osprey, hoping he’d fly back to his nest. For a while, he stayed on the rocks. The Santantonios feared that the young bird might not have the strength to keep going. But then, out of nowhere, the osprey’s mom arrived. Finally reunited, the pair were flying together in no time.
“Seeing the mother osprey come in and guide him was the coolest thing to watch,” Santantonio said. “As soon as he was airborne, she was immediately in the air, too.”
A few summers have passed since the rescue, and the Santantonios still enjoy watching the osprey families every year by their home. But they’ll never forget the special osprey they helped years ago, who, despite all odds, found the strength to fly again.