An osprey chick with its leg tangled in fishing line was freed in a rescue atop an old 85-foot communications tower in East Marion -- a reality show watched by fans of a 24/7 live cam at ospreyzone.com.
Friday, the two chicks roamed the nest freely, squawking for attention at mealtime.
They didn't make a peep Thursday night when gloved hands plopped a blue blanket over them to keep them calm.StoryGet a bird's-eye view of osprey familyPhotosBaby animals
"It was just a piece of cake," said the rescuer, Jim MacDougal, 56, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator who volunteers at Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays. "They just hunkered down. It was great to see they were actually OK."
He and PSEG Long Island were called after one chick got its right leg mired Wednesday in fishing line used by its parents to feather the nest. It sparked angst among a legion of fans addicted to ospreyzone -- a high-definition peek at a twiggy household.
The line chained the chick to half the nest, but the bird could be seen eating and otherwise doing well.
"We don't know how it happened," said Paul Henry, owner of Tax Reduction Services in Greenport, which hosts ospreyzone. "One of the problems is the birds, as long as we've been watching, keep bringing up debris from windshield wipers, fish nets, plastic bags."
About 6 p.m., help arrived. A lift carried MacDougal, a PSEG photographer and a worried lineman up the tower.
The intruders caused the parents to fly away, but they weren't gone for long.
"They were divebombing us," MacDougal said.
The lineman used a metal pole to keep them at bay. The snip-and-pull operation took about 10 minutes. MacDougal removed red twine that one chick was sitting on, then used scissors to cut the line from its sibling's leg.
MacDougal massaged the chick's leg and patted both birds down.
"I wanted to make sure there was nothing broken before I said goodbye," he said.
On the ground, relieved onlookers clapped. "It was a triumphant success and an invigorating moment for everybody," Henry said.
Henry had MacDougal clean the live cam lens of dirt and a spot of poop. He wants the view to be crystal clear -- the chicks will learn to fly soon.
He plans to document the ospreys, once a species on the brink of disappearing after the pesticide DDT damaged eggs.
The old tower sits in the yard of osprey "landlord" Tommy Aprea, 74, who has been vacationing out of state.
The live cam system, bolted on a man-made platform, went from jagged and limited last year to high-def June 1. Viewership jumped from 8,700 Wednesday to 17,000 on rescue day, Henry said.
As Aprea said last month, "Everybody's really getting hooked on them."