Several bald eagles were found injured in western Massachusetts last week and when it comes time to put these majestic birds in the right hands, police departments turn to one Conway man to keep them healthy and keep them safe.
Welcome to the home of Tom Ricardi. There's no traffic, no cell service - just the sound of birds of all shapes and sizes deep in the heart of Conway.
Ricardi has always been fascinated by birds since the days of his neighborhood paper route. He worked for Environmental Police for nearly 40 years before he started raptor rehabilitation.
"Everything from the smallest owl, to eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, you name it," Ricardi said.
Ricardi was contacted by Northampton Police last week after an injured bald eagle was found on Mount Tom.
Bernardston Police also contacted Ricardi after finding a bald eagle in distress with right wing damage.
Ricardi houses 9 bald eagles in total at his Conway home
"A couple of birds are permanently injured. This is kind of, if you will, a nursing home for eagles that can't be released," Ricardi noted.
Ricardi has dozens of birds here, but he doesn't name them. They are not pets. They are simply house guests here to get well and back where they belong.
"I call it the three R's: rescue, rehabilitate and release, so the focus on all the birds here is to release them back to the wild," Ricardi said.
Ricardi works hand-in-hand with cities and towns to ensure the safety of their raptors, or birds of prey, and teaches kids, even law enforcement, how to safely handle one...
When a raptor is found injured, Ricardi drives down himself to pick them up.
Those that cannot be released are used for breeding, where the young are eventually released. So far, this Bernardston bald eagle is improving, but not enough to be released.
"He's doing really good, but unfortunately, his right wing is damaged. I'm not too optimistic that this bird is ever going to fly," Ricardi noted.
MassWildlife said that there are 57 pairs of bald eagles in the Commonwealth, up from last year. The best places to see them are the Quabbin Reservoir and Connecticut River, where they can be spotted from a boat in many spots.
As they continue to keep tabs on the population, they encourage residents to reach out if you see one yourself.
You can CLICK HERE to see more birds that are in Ricardi's care.
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