Pony Pasture neighbors, arborists combine on dramatic osprey rescue

October 13, 2014 · 3 minute read

On Saturday morning I got a call from Scott Turner, RichmondOutside.com contributor and owner of True Timber Tree Service. He was down along Riverside Drive in the Pony Pasture area with one of his company’s bucket trucks helping rescue an osprey that had become entangled in fishing line hanging from a tree. I started making my way toward Pony Pasture to this for myself, but a few second later I got a text from Turner: “Osprey is already saved.”

Turner was able to capture some neat photos and a video of the rescue (above). Here’s his account and another one from True Timber arborist Peter Girardi, who was on the scene first.

A VaDGIF conservation police officer waits with the osprey for a wildlife rehabilitator to arrive. Credit: Scott Turner

A VaDGIF conservation police officer waits with the osprey for a wildlife rehabilitator to arrive. Credit: Randy Reynolds

At 9:15 a.m. my phone starts ringing from Nathan Burrell. I answer assuming its a request to bike ride, but he tells me the story of a hawk (which turned out to be an osprey) that is dangling from a fishing line from a tree between Pony Pasture and Z-Dam along Riverside Drive.

I start to change and head over to our office to grab one of our bucket trucks, which I hope will reach the bird without having to climb the tree. I called Randy to see if his trucks were out or if I needed to grab one from Northside office. Randy was close to the location so while I was getting our truck Randy went to scout the area to confirm a bucket truck could reach the bird. Half way to the office Randy calls and said our crew of Justin and Jason were available with the bucket to meet us at Riverside Drive. I changed direction and started heading towards Riverside Drive.

When I pulled up, there were two park employees, a resident (not sure if he spotted the bird), Randy and our bucket crew. Soon a warden with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries arrived, and he instructed us to remove the bird from the tree and he could handle the bird until the rehabilitator arrived. Justin started to move into the tree with the bucket, removed the line from the tree and carried the bird from the string back to the ground where the game warden carefully grabbed the bird’s talons with gloved hands and wrapped the bird in a blanket to help calm and control the bird from flapping.

The bird who probably has never been touched by humans or even been that close was very calm and just watched us all.  We all pulled away at 10 a.m. from the site leaving the game warden and park staff to wait for the rehabilitator.


The cool thing is from the time it was noticed how quickly all the residents and officials acted to make the rescue. A person noticed about 8:30 am. They called Betsy Slade, a neighbor and Friends of the James River Park board member. Betsy called Nathan Burrell. Nathan checked in with us. We had a bucket truck working on a job that we sent over to cut the bird free and lower to the ground as you see in the video. A game warden was there to take possession and was waiting for a rehabilitator to take over. The fishing line was still pretty well wrapped around, so we would not have wanted it to try to fly. Time of notice to time of rescue was about 1 and a half hours. It was neat to see how the nature lovers and residents rallied around the osprey as we would any other  family member in Richmond. Pretty cool story.