Osprey caught in bailing twineOspreys have the bad habit of collecting baling twine to adorn their nests. Unfortunately, baling twine is a serious threat to Osprey, as they often get tangled in this very strong polypropylene rope. We have found baling twine in nearly every nest located in our study area. An Osprey nest that blew down in Missoula contained more than a quarter of a mile of baling twine!

One of our new research partners, Brooke Tanner, founder of the newly incorporated and developing Wild Skies Raptor Rehabilitation Center received a call about an Osprey that was, “…tangled in baling twine and dangling from a utility pole…” To complicate matters, the nest platform was located above dangerous power lines and the Osprey was hanging and swinging precariously close to those lines. The utility pole is managed by Missoula Electric Cooperative (MEC).

MEC linemen wasted no time in getting there. In just minutes, the crew expertly positioned their bucket truck under the nest. With large salmon dip nets in-hand, we positioned ourselves under the truck ready to catch the struggling bird should it fall. The lineman used a fiberglass pole with a bottle brush wire head to secure the line, and with another pole equipped with a knife, cut the twine. Carefully, the en-tangled bird was lowered it into our net. Success!

Brooke examined the leg and wing and determined the bird was okay. We quickly fitted the adult Osprey with a USGS aluminum leg band and freed it back into the wild. Crews then cut down the re-maining twine.

This is a very preventable problem and one we will keep working on diligently to remedy. For more information or for copies of our Osprey and Baling Twine pamphlets contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Learn more about Osprey and bailing twine in our Osprey Pamphlet (PDF, 380kb)

News article - Mother osprey tangled in Missoula nest freed - Missoulian 6/21/14