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Finland confirms Osprey bird found in Kenya was ringed in Helsinki

Experts examine an Osprey bird that flew to Kenya from Finland. /COURTESY.

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 26 – Finland has confirmed that it ringed a migratory bird known as Osprey that flew to Kenya last week, covering close to 7000 kilometers.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said it is in contact with Finland which confirmed that it was ringed at Museum Zool in Helsinki with ‘www.ring.ac, M-68528’.

“KWS has received communication from Finland that it was ringed in June 2017 and is mature for breeding,” a statement from KWS states, “The experts advised that the bird be released not later than March to allow it to navigate back within the migratory period.”

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said it is in contact with Finland which confirmed that it was ringed at Museum Zool in Helsinki with ‘www.ring.ac, M-68528’. /COURTESY.

The rare migratory bird was rescued in Siaya and brought to Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi is in a stable condition at a KWS- licensed Raptor Rehabilitation Centre in Karen.

KWS and the Raptor Centre said they plan to feed it back to good health and release it back to the wild from the exact site it was rescued in the Lake Victoria catchment so that the bird of prey does not lose its bearings on the return epic flight Northwards in early March.

Addressing journalists at KWS headquarters, KWS Director Research, Dr Patrick Omondi said that a licensed raptor specialist in conjunction with KWS veterinary team are closely monitoring the condition of the bird having been dehydrated from the long flight and minor injuries while trapped by the fishing net and urged the public to keep off the facility to allow for full recovery of the bird.

“KWS commends the local community who acted swiftly to alert our officers, as well as the officers who ensured that the bird was safe and calls on the Siaya County Government to enhance the protection of Lake Victoria catchment areas, including Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve as a number of migratory birds have been sighted in these areas in recent surveys,” the authority said.

Kenya is a signatory to the Convention on Migratory species (CMS), whose conference of parties is to be held next month in India and one of the key mandates is to ensure the conservation of migratory bird species.

Bird-ringing is done in Kenya at Ngulia in Tsavo every other year in October/November, during which migratory birds from Europe are identified.

Whilst bird migration is normal, KWS said, the particular case of the Osprey is unique because the bird was intercepted in an area not previously known as a migratory route. The usual seven catchment areas include Lake Nakuru, Naivasha, Bogoria, Elementaita – but Lake Victoria catchment has never before been thought to be a potential site.

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The bird’s origin has been established from a refereeing ring on its leg whose details show that it was ringed in Finland (Museum Zool, Helsinki Finland, www.ring.ac, M-68528), KWS said. /KWS.

In light of recent developments, KWS urged the Siaya County Government to join conservation efforts by protecting the Victoria catchment area, which includes Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve. Threats to migratory birds include rapid infrastructural development such as electric wires on migration routes, climate change and pollution.

Kenya Wildlife Service Head of Veterinary Services, Dr. David Ndeereh said birds of prey play a significant role as indicator species of ecosystem health. The deviation of this bird from its usual route could point to an underlying problem, i.e. habitat degradation, low food availability, which causes the birds to veer off route to locate food.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), also known as sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. /COURTESY.

The 950g male bird flew to Kenya, covering a distance of 6,948 kilometres or 4,317 miles to land in Siaya County. A member of the community, Walter Oloo, reported the bird sighting to the KWS Siaya County team on January 20.

The male bird is of the species Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) also called sea hawk, river hawk and fish hawk. It is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey; a large raptor with a wingspan of 180cm (71in), and 60cm (24in) in length. Its uniqueness is evident in the fact that it is a long-distance migrant that breeds in Europe and migrates to Africa during the former continent’s harsh winters. It feeds predominantly on fish; less often on small mammals – usually when fish is unavailable.

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