But it was only this week when we learned just how successful this fostering really was, when photographer Mike Busch of Great South Bay images saw, photographed, and most importantly, reported, seeing Freaky on Fire Island.

Almost everything we know about the long-term survival of these animals is thanks to banding. But the effort only pays off if there are a.) resightings of those banded animals and b.) those sightings are documented and reported. Reporting the sightings of banded birds is one of the most important things any birder, photographer, or nature lover can do to help the conservation of endangered species. It’s an uphill battle because there are so few people out there looking, and of those people, only a tiny fraction make the effort to document and report. Reports of banded birds are so much more valuable than most of the people who see them often realize. Every report is precious, and some, like this one of Freaky, even more so. A quick shout out to the great Allison Anholt who was the first person to teach me how important band resightings are to her precious Oystercatchers, and taught me how important photographers can be to conservation through this function alone.

Thank you Mike Busch for your diligence.

So what about the other foster, “Blue”? And the other, OTHER foster, “Red,” who I never even did a Reading about because I was so exhausted? Well, now that we know Freaky has been out there (apparently thriving… look at the Woodcock she caught!) this whole time, and we didn’t know zippity-zap about it, we can have hope that it is only a matter of time before a hero like Mike Busch spots, and reports them.

Thanks again Mike. For letting us know that both Freaky, and hope, are still alive.

In celebration, here is a short little video of Freaky & Blue when they were first dropped off at the BOIS Tower last July. This is their first moment of freedom after long rehabs. It’s Freaky spending most of her time drying her wings and Blue spending most of her time eating the huge pile of quail left for them.

I never showed this video because it made me feel nervous and anxious. The future was so uncertain. The risks so high. But now? Knowing Freaky is out there living the amazing life she was born for? Now it makes me chuckle; watching these two, overwhelmed, confused, and energized by their first moments of freedom in a strange place after their long rehabilitation. It reminds me of all of the wonderful surprises which may be awaiting each of us, however uncertain and scary the immediate moments in front of us may feel.


And never lose hope!

I would encourage you all to read the entire story on Jim’s blog here. 

And while you are there check out the rest of his blog with some great wildlife stories and photography.