Rather than winging his way south for the winter, a recuperating osprey recently traveled from Cape Cod, Massachusettes, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in style, thanks to a partnership between South Florida Wildlife Center and a sister facility.

A volunteer drove the young bird, who was seriously injured in August after his nest hit power lines and caught on fire, to South Florida Wildlife Center from Cape Wildlife Center. The osprey will complete his recovery at SFWC, then be freed around the start of the new year. Both rehabilitation facilities are affiliates of the Humane Society of the United States.

Even before the bird headed south, it was a long road for the osprey, who was rescued covered in soot with respiratory issues caused by smoke inhalation. His months-long treatment included oxygen therapy, supportive medications, fluids, nutritious food and other lifesaving procedures.

By the time the recovering raptor would have been healthy enough to be freed in Massachusetts, it would have been too late in the season for him to safely migrate, as the other ospreys in the area had done. Fortunately, South Florida Wildlife Center offered its raptor expertise and a top-notch flight aviary for the young osprey to regain strength and conditioning.

Volunteer Mike Koechlin drove the osprey to South Florida Wildlife Center, where he safely arrived on Dec. 1. After veterinary evaluation and stabilization, the osprey was moved into the aviary. When he is released in South Florida, he will establish himself here or continue flying south.

“Our animal care centers frequently collaborate, and both centers were delighted to be able to work together to save this osprey,” said South Florida Wildlife Center executive director Debra Parsons Drake. “We expect this lucky snowbird will soon be soaring in the Florida sunshine.”

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