Team effort helps free stuck osprey

Thomas Eddy works to help rescue an osprey, who became stuck in a tree Wednesday, July 8 when it got tangled in discarded kite string. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

Every morning at 7 a.m., Freeland Film Festival Coordinator Evelyn Galster walks around the neighborhood. 

But Wednesday, July 8, something peculiar happened as she left the house.

Her neighbor, Helen Smith, was outside and looked concerned. As Galster approached, Smith said, “There’s a hawk in your tree.”

Galster looked up and saw what was actually an osprey, hanging about 12-feet in the air by its wing, which was caught in the tree by a tangled mess of string. 

“I was just thinking, ‘This can’t be comfortable for this poor bird,’” Galster said. 

An officer from the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Department arrived and explained that he didn’t have the proper training to safely rescue the animal. 

Galster began brainstorming possible people that could help the bird. She decided to call Thomas Eddy, vice president of conservation for the Green Lake Conservancy, to see if he could contact local falcon expert Eric Ratering.

“I was wondering, ‘How do I get a hold of him?’ So that’s when I called Tom Eddy and said, ‘Do you have Eric Ratering’s number? I have a hawk or something stuck in my tree hanging upside down,’” Galster recalled. 

Fearing the bird could be traumatized if it stayed in the tree much longer, Eddy grabbed a pair of scissors and a towel before hopping in the car to drive to Galster’s house.

After getting to the house, Eddy realized the bird was an osprey. He then climbed up a ladder and placed a towel over the creature to keep it calm as he cut the tangled mess of string. 

Eddy brought the bird down and laid it on a towel as he and the deputy worked to remove the remaining string. 

After the string was removed, Eddy got the osprey’s talons disengaged from the towel before removing the towels. 

The osprey popped up, stretched its wings and gazed at Eddy to express gratitude before flying away.

“It was kind of interesting; we looked at each other face to face for what seemed like 15, 20 seconds, and then he turned around, moved his wings around a little bit and flew away, ” Eddy said.

If the osprey had been in the tree for a prolonged period and if community members hadn’t taken notice to the bird’s distress, Eddy noted the creature’s wing could have been damaged and the bird might have been traumatized. 

“It must’ve been terribly uncomfortable for the bird, so it was good that we were able to get the job done as swiftly as possible,” he said.

Eddy added that he was impressed by the neighborhood’s response to seeing the creature in peril.

“People do care about osprey and other types of wildlife and they’re observant — if they see something that isn’t right, they try to make it right,” he said. “You don’t see it every day, people showing concern, not just for the environment, but for all the wildlife that we share the habitat with.”

He noted of all of the creatures in the animal kingdom, humans leave the biggest impact on the environment. 

For Eddy, the incident with the osprey provides a real-world example of how human actions can directly impact the ecosystem, as the bird was tangled in discarded kite string. 

To be a good steward of the land, he believes it’s imperative to gather and dispose of garbage to protect the environment and the wildlife inhabiting it.

“Collect and properly dispose of kite strings, fishing lines and all plastics to protect osprey and other wildlife,” Eddy said. “This incident had a satisfying ending because of an early morning phone call and caring neighbors.”