Hellgate Osprey Chick Makes First Flight
After an extra long nestling period, Hellgate Osprey cam star “Lele” finally took wing over the grounds near its nest site along the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana. The young Osprey fledged on the morning of August 5, a full 62 days after hatching, making it the oldest Osprey nestling ever to be featured on the Hellgate Osprey cam by four days!
Now the real work begins for Lele. The race is on to hone those ever-important flying skills and learn how to fish. We’ve already witnessed the fledgling make some impressive flightsaround Hellgate Canyon, and Lele’s dad, Louis, has been up to the task of providing for food the young flier. Young Ospreys in northern, migratory populations—like those in Montana—are dependent on parental feedings (typically from the male) for at least 10–20 days. Despite this assistance, fall migration is looming, and like all Ospreys, Lele will embark on the long flight south alone. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as the fledgling attempts to transform into an adept fisher bird. Watch cam.
While this first flight was a large step in Lele’s transition into adulthood, it was also a milestone for Louis and Iris. It marks the first time the Ospreys have successfully raised offspring together since they paired up three seasons ago. Iris and her previous mate Stanley were successful in three out of four nesting attempts on camera between 2012 and 2015 before Stanley’s disappearance in 2016 opened the door for Louis’s arrival. We’ve witnessed first hand that the breeding season is a tumultuous time for wild birds, but were hoping this is a positive sign for the future of this Osprey pair!