PENDLETON, Ore. – Baling twine used by ospreys to build nests in Eastern Oregon can entangle the raptors, leaving them dangling with broken legs and sometimes resulting in death, wildlife officials said.
The twine is common in ranch country, where it’s used to put up hay. But ospreys are opportunists when it comes to collecting nesting material. To the usual mixture of twigs, sticks and vegetation, they’ll add synthetic material such as fishing line or plastic grocery bags.
“We’ve found pieces of pipe and cable,” said Lynn Tompkins, executive director of Blue Mountain Wildlife. “One time there was a pair of Jockey shorts.”
Her wildlife protection group has dealt with four of the birds so far this nesting season, the East Oregonian reported this week.
The first three were uninjured and released. The fourth was euthanized because of a broken leg.
That’s about the usual number of entanglements for this time of year, Tompkins said.
“They dislocate joints and do all kinds of stuff struggling,” she said. “This year, we’ve been really lucky.”
Ospreys build nests and lay eggs in the spring. By mid to late summer, the chicks have become fledglings, growing stronger and preparing for flight.
“While they’re large and active they’re moving around the nest a lot, and that gives them a lot of opportunity to get caught in twine,” said Mark Kirsch, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife district biologist for Umatilla County. Adults get entangled, as well, he said.