Concerned citizens, Colorado Parks and Wildlife rescue osprey from Yampa River |

Concerned citizens, Colorado Parks and Wildlife rescue osprey from Yampa River

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Jared Lamb holds onto an osprey as his co-worker Christy Bubenheim and a member of the public provide support. The group was called to help the osprey after community members noticed it was having difficulties flying on Monday, April 10, 2023. The bird's talons had become tangled in the lanyard on a ski glove and could not get free. The good news is the rescue proved to be a success, and about 20 minutes after being pulled from the waters and being freed from the glove, the bird was able to take flight.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

On Monday, April 10, community members watched as Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers attempted to reach, rescue and free an exhausted osprey that had become entangled with a lanyard attached to a ski glove.

“We were walking along the (Yampa River) Core Trail,” resident Laura Shifflett said. “We stopped to look at (the osprey), and then it tried to fly and we saw the thing attached to it. Then we knew there was a problem.”

Shifflett and her friend Paula Hope first noticed the osprey struggling in the river near the nest behind the Yampa River Botanic Park. At first, Hope thought the bird had caught a fish and was attempting to pull it from the water.

“It was kind of jumping,” Hope said. “Then we realized it couldn’t fly, and we could see it was tangled on something.”

She said it was just after 2 p.m. when she called for help, and she was happy when the bird was able to get up on the snow-covered bank on the other side of the river not too far from where she had first seen it. The bird kept trying to take flight, sometimes falling back into the river, before it was able to return again to the bank. As they waited, Shifflett and Hope could see the bird was exhausted.

The women said the osprey’s mate was sitting in a nearby tree, and the two called out to each other with screeches of desperation. As a group of 15-20 people gathered to watch the drama unfold, other osprey circled the area and called. The osprey on the ground kept desperately trying to take flight, but the weight of the water-soaked glove proved too heavy.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife had people on-site a little more than 39 minutes after being called, and officers accessed the area through a field on the opposite side of the bank from the core trail, feeling it was the best way to approach the terrified bird.

Two members of Colorado Parks and Wildlife were joined by a concerned citizen, while another officer waited in a nearby truck in case the bird was swept downstream.

An osprey spreads its wings along the banks of the Yampa River but was unable to take flight on Monday, April 10, 2023, because a lanyard attached to a water-soaked ski glove had become wrapped around its talon and was too heavy for the bird to take off. The entangled osprey was noticed by community members who called Colorado Parks and Wildlife for help.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The group surrounded the bird so that it could not escape, and as an officer attempted to capture the bird before it attempted to take flight, the snow on the bank gave way. Still, he was able to secure the bird quickly and move it up the bank where it was wrapped in a towel.

“We didn’t want it to get farther out in the water and end up getting swept away,” said Christy Bubenheim of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The osprey was stressed out, and we didn’t want it to end up in the water and floating downstream again because that was the initial call — it was floating downstream rapidly.”

Bubenheim said that once they were able to get the towel over the bird and take control of those talons so that no one was injured, they were able to remove the lanyard to free the bird. The group then gave the bird space and allowed it to regain its strength. Roughly 20 minutes later, the osprey took flight.

“There was a lot of elements that could have made it not look so pretty,” Bubenheim said of the rescue. “The top priority was not injuring any of us … We also wanted to be careful not to injure the bird, so getting it unhooked and watching it fly away was great.”

A lanyard wrapped around an osprey’s talon is visible in this photograph as the bird stands on the bank of the Yampa River on Monday, April 10, 2023. Rescuers were able to capture the bird and remove the glove, and 20 minutes later, the osprey was back in the trees overlooking the Yampa River.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today
An osprey attempts to escape the waters of the Yampa River after it became tangled with a lanyard that was attached to a glove.
Juan Mendoza/Courtesy photo
Community members noticed an osprey being carried downstream in the Yampa River on Monday April 10, 2023, before calling Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help.
Juan Mendoza/Courtesy photo
Somehow an osprey became tangled with the lanyard on this glove Monday, April 10, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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