August 12, 2010- Grants Pass: After an ordinary summer day, Jim and Cindy Hubbard returned to their home on River Banks Road in Grants Pass around seven in the evening on Thursday, August 12th. Before they could walk in the door their neighbor Deanna Laumeyer intercepted the couple in a panicked state. Only 100 yards from the Hubbard’s house, 100 feet up in a decaying Cottonwood tree, resides an osprey nest. Over the years the Hubbards have watched birds come and go as the seasons changed. This year the nest is home two adults and one young osprey. Cindy pointed at the birds’ nest and the Hubbards gasped in horror. The Osprey had attempted to fly from the nest and had gotten one of its talons tangled in a piece of orange wire that the birds had used to construct the nest. The bird was hanging upside down and chirping loudly. “My first thought was to call Wildlife Images,” said Jim. Wildlife Images Executive Director, Dave Siddon, answered the call and immediately went into action. Within an hour Tree Trimmer, Don Mattade from Eric’s Tree Service arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, it was beginning to get dark and the bird was well out of the reach of a truck or ladder
“The top of the tree was so rotten it was the consistency of Styrofoam,” said Don. “I was definitely nervous”. Jim rigged up the spotlight from his boat to provide some light for Don to make his way up to the bird. The bird was dangling about 5 feet below the nest as Don climbed the tree with nothing but his spurs, a safely saddle, rope and a pole trimmer. “He was unbelievably heroic”, said Jim.
Finally, after inching up the ant infested tree, Don was within reach of the bird. “One of the other birds, perhaps the parent to the dangling bird was flying in circles calling to the distressed bird. Don was worried he might be attacked by the Osprey but I assured him that they are very non-aggressive by nature and I’ve never seen them go after a human to guard their nest”, said Dave. This reassured Don and he used his 20ft pole trimmer to cut away the twine from the nest and free the struggling Osprey. The bird took flight and landed in the trees below. “It was so dark when the bird was finally freed that we couldn’t see if he still had twine wrapped around the leg or not. One thing is for sure though, he probably wouldn’t have made it through the night,” said Dave.
The following day, Jim reported that all three birds were back in their nest. “I’ve saved cats and pet birds before but never a wild bird, especially one that big! It was quite the experience but I’m glad I risked my life for such an amazing animal. I feel great today,” said Don.
Dave Siddon cautions people to not leave materials like bailing twine, fishing line and any other man-made materials out where animals have access to them. To a bird like an Osprey these items are strong, readily available building materials that can be hazardous to their wellbeing.
Fortunately, this time, the bird and the climber came out without obvious injuries. “The Osprey seems to be doing alright today. We are all very thankful for a happy ending”, said Jim.