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!
Note: This article was published in the Saturday, April 19 edition of the Siuslaw News on the Opinions page marked as a “special to the Siuslaw News”, titled “From a reader: A quiet spectacle.”