Woahink Release

During a walk at Woahink Lake on Tuesday, my husband and I were treated to a unique spectacle. A couple was unloading a truck, which was parked on the slope by the boat launch. Rather than transferring a kayak or canoe to the water though, they balanced between them a large dog crate. “They must have a puppy,” remarked my husband. We stopped to watch. I was ready to witness the rambunctious antics of a young German Shepherd or Golden Retriever, perhaps even a Saint Bernard.

They carefully settled their load in the grass near a picnic table. The woman kneeled at its rear; her bearded companion calmly swung open the crate’s door. Nothing happened, no bounding puppy. I revised my expectations; perhaps he was a shy, nervous fellow.

The couple waited. We waited. And then we saw, very briefly…a large wing. We glanced at the pair of Canada Geese grazing on the lawn about 30 yards from the crate and equidistant from our observation point. They were now on alert, necks fully extended, eyes fixated. We were on hold, the crate the focal point of all present human and waterfowl. After a poignant pause, a strong set of wings pulsed from the plastic coop and launched skyward. I caught my breath; the geese hit the water. The osprey – for that was the crate’s precious cargo – gracefully turned a few silent arcs, and then flew out of sight.We returned to our car. I felt I’d witnessed the end to a story, but wanted to know the prior chapter.   Rather than leave, we parked behind the truck and interrupted the raptor releasers as they approached with the empty crate. We learned the osprey was rescued at Woahink Lake the prior Friday, a claw snagged by a fishhook and caught in fishing line. She was disentangled and nursed for a few days at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, before being returned by this couple to her summer nesting grounds. The hope was that she had a mate waiting for her, perhaps tending a nest in her absence. Ospreys mate for life, they explained, so her feathered spouse’s parenting would have ended with her loss. I lent my own credence to their hoped-for tale: she had flown toward an area of the lake known to host several osprey nests in the trees.

My husband thanked them for their care of a Woahink osprey, and I add my gratitude. No other cars were in the parking lot. There was no grandstanding or press present, only my husband, myself, and a pair of geese. It’s comforting to know there are folks such as these to care for nature’s creatures when they collide with human environs. Liberating this healed osprey was their reward, but the efforts of this non-profit wildlife hospital certainly warrant broader recognition. Many thanks to the Cascades Raptor Center!

After posting this article, I received an email from Amanda Paris. It was Amanda and her husband, Adam Mayfield, who released the osprey. She provided a link to a video of the release.

In the video you can see it was Amanda who opened the crate, not Adam. Given I had no idea what I was witnessing at the time, or that I would later write about it, that is a minor inaccuracy. I was surprised to see the actual release took less than a minute; time must have been suspended in my anticipation and subsequent awe.

I used to have the video shared here, but it is no longer publicly available.  I do have a still from the video showing Amanda and the rescued osprey.

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