Carelessly discarded string may seem innocent enough, but twine can be death to osprey. An osprey’s keen eyes can spot a piece of twine from high up and then swoop down to haul it back to their nests for nesting material. However, during their route back home their talons can get caught up in the twine putting them in risk of being caught on phone wires, branches, fences, and other obstructions. Even if they manage to get the string back to their nest without incident, it poses a continuing hazard every time they depart their nest.

At the osprey nest on our ranch in Lolo, Montana my wife and I are extremely careful not to leave twine around as we’ve seen ospreys take off with their talons caught up in dangling twine knowing that this is a great hazard. We like to think of our habit as child-proofing a home, except these youngsters aren’t people. We’d like to encourage others to “child-proof” their area by picking up twine which can get caught in nests.

In setting up an osprey camera up at our ranch, we hoped to support the University of Montana’s osprey research program and to share these incredible birds with the world. You can see the osprey nest and the bits of twine the adults have brought to it at the Dunrovin Ranch website by following  the webcam link.

Harriet, the osprey fusses with her eggs
Harriet, the osprey fusses with her eggs at Dunrovin Ranch in Lolo, Montana. Photo by Suzanne and Sterling Miller.

This year our fingers are crossed that both the parents and their offspring will survive until fall when they migrate to Mexico or even further south for the winter.  For more information on this nest and on the dangers posed by twine to osprey, visit  The West’s Best Nest .

And whenever you see a piece of twine lying around, remember to think of these great creatures and please pick it up!

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Published: August 15, 2012