PORTLAND - The chick that fans watched hatch and grow on the KGW-Audubon Osprey cam this year finally made its first attempt at flying last Friday, but crashed into a fence and was critically injured, according to Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with the Audubon Society of Portland.
"The young osprey has a combination of problems, some developmental and others apparently associated with the collision with the fence," Salinger said. "Perhaps most significant is a beak abnormality that appears to be a developmental problem."
Sallinger's blog: Trouble for the fledgling
Photos: Fledgling and Osprey nest
The osprey fledgling was quickly taken to Audubon's care center. He has an injured eye, a badly swollen wing, has difficulty standing and will not eat. Sallinger said his deformed beak was likely a developmental problem, rather than a result of the collision and most likely, can not be repaired.
"The overall prognosis is very poor. We are running tests, consulting on the beak and treating what we can, but the beak alone is very problematic," Sallinger explained.
“Osprey don’t take well to captivity. They usually don’t eat on their own, they need to be force-fed a couple times a day,” added Wildlife Care Center Operations Manager Lacy Campbell. “Right now is a really important time before they migrate to learn how to catch fish, how to fly, how to navigate; things like that.”
Even if the osprey's injuries can be repaired, he will miss this key time to learn to hunt in the wild. This is why the time that the fledgling is missing with its parents right now is so devastating.
Holding the bird in captivity at a zoo or education center is also unlikely, Sallinger said, because osprey typically don't adapt well to life in captivity.
Background: Osprey cam on Portland's Waterfront
Live video: KGW-Audubon Osprey cam
This fledgling was one of two eggs laid by the female osprey in the Portland waterfront nest this year. This is the fifth year the adult pair returned to the nest located in a vacant field just north of the Merriwether condo high rise tower, along Portland's South Waterfront.
Complete coverage: Portland osprey nest