CLOVER, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – At Lake Wylie, resident Tommy Vance sees something majestic happen daily.
In the animal kingdom, osprey have a reputation as expert anglers.
“Multiple times a day, you see them swoop down and get fish from the lake,” said Vance.
But birds sometimes wind up in serious jeopardy in places along the water where people go fishing.
“So, you still see the bobber hanging at the bottom of the limb right there,” he says, pointing to a tree behind his house.
On August 19, a construction worker first noticed an osprey flailing. The tense moments that ensued were recorded with a mobile phone.
“This hawk is caught in some fishing line and in a tree,” said Vance, narrating the wild turn of events.
He got footage of the bird in distress as it hung upside down.
“It had grabbed a fishing lure, and the hooks were through its legs and its claws, and it couldn’t go anywhere, and there was a fishing line attached to the lure,” he said.
“I cut it out of the tree; we brought it out. And John got his tools from his toolbox,” he explained in the video clip. “[The bird] thought it was a fish and tried to snatch it.”
Tommy’s friend John Nouanthavysouk removed the fishing lure from the bird’s talons.
“Snip it,” Vance told Nouanthavysouk during the delicate procedure.
“That’s the reason he has the tools; he knew how to do it,” Vance said.
“To me I was just wanting to snip it off so that he didn’t hurt anymore,” Nouanthavysouk says. “I mean, you could just tell he was in pain.”
“Alright, that one’s gone,” Vance said of the lures as his buddy cut it away. “You’re alright; you’re alright.”
“The bird was pretty calm. It flopped a little bit,” Vance recalled.
“I feel like it knew we were trying to help it,” Nouanthavysouk said.
Carolina Waterfowl Rescue says if you see a bird such as an osprey caught in a tree, remove it and consult a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before proceeding.
“They have to use their feet to catch their prey,” said executive director Jennifer Gordon. “And so, if they’re not fully functioning and you release a bird, there’s a possibility that it isn’t going to be able to catch or eat its own food.”
Audubon North Carolina says we can prevent dangerous situations by disposing of fishing lines properly.
The group suggests cutting your line into short pieces before throwing it away to reduce the chance that a bird will get tangled up.
In this case, the three men acted on their instinct to help, which might be more than many would have done.
“We released him here, and he just got up and took off. Right down the cove,” said Vance.
“It was good to see it take off cause we weren’t sure. It was hooked pretty bad, but to see it fly down the cove it was a good feeling,” Vance says. “We’re hoping he comes back and says hello one day.”
“I’m sure he will,” Nouanthavysouk agreed.
It’s quite a story until they hopefully meet again.
“I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I had just saved this hawk,” said Nouanthavysouk.