In the last month and a half, Blue Mountain Wildlife — a Pendleton nonprofit wildlife protection organization — has helped four ospreys tangled in baling twine.
“This year we’ve been really lucky,” said Lynn Tompkins, the executive director of Blue Mountain Wildlife. “The first three (were uninjured and) we were able to release. They dislocate joints and do all kinds of stuff struggling.” While the number of entangled osprey — which are usually found hanging upside down outside their nest — is normal for this time of year, Tomkins explained it’s rare for three to be uninjured. The fourth osprey had to be euthanized because of a broken leg.
Ospreys build nests and lay eggs each spring. They often pick up baling twine to use in their nests. By mid to late summer, the chicks have become fledglings — the stage where they are growing stronger and preparing to make their first 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,” Mark Kirsch, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife district biologist for Umatilla County, said. “Almost always it’s adults or fledglings that get caught in the nest. It’s really associated with nesting.”
For ospreys who build their nests atop of power poles and become tangled, Pacific Power has been working with Blue Mountain Wildlife to retrieve the birds.
“All three times they were there within a half an hour. You can hardly ask for anything better,” Tompkins said. “They also trimmed down the baling twine from the nest, which was extra effort on their part.”
Pacific Power has no legal obligation to rescue the entangled birds, but does it as a measure of good will.
“This is a busy time, when the young osprey chicks are active as they get ready to fly,” said Butch Wilson, a general foreman for Pacific Power.
While national osprey populations were low 40 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency ban of DDT in 1973 stopped the chemical contamination within the species. According to the Birds of Oregon, an OSU-published reference guide, the Oregon osprey population increased from 308 pairs in 1976 to about 700 pairs in 1994. Ospreys’ diet consists almost entirely of fish and the raptors are generally found nesting close to rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
“All that’s required is that people just pick the stuff up,” Tompkins said. “When they open up a bale of hay, put it in a garbage can. I think a lot of it is just backyard — people with a horse or whatever — they don’t dispose of it, it’s just left out. For some reason the ospreys are attracted to it.”
Tompkins said that if anyone spots an entangled osprey hanging from its nest, call Blue Mountain Wildlife at 541-278-0215.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.-->-->-->-->
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