Osprey Nation is Connecticut Audubon Society’s new citizen science partnership, launched in the summer of 2014, to monitor the health of our state’s Ospreys. The goal of Osprey Nation is to create a long-term record of data that will give the conservation community a better understanding of the health of Connecticut’s Osprey population.
In its first season, Osprey Nation’s 100-plus stewards located 414 nests in five counties and 42 towns, and monitored 174 of those nests. We plotted all the nests and the data submitted by the stewards on the map below. Osprey Nation stewards confirmed that 78 young Ospreys were successfully fledged in 2014, a number that we’re confident is low.
The project is off to a great start but we still need your help and expertise!
If you live near an active Osprey nest and can volunteer about an hour a month to be part of our network of stewards, email us at Osprey@Ctaudubon.org.
Among our goals for next year are to add nest locations to the map, learn more about nests that are not yet being monitored, start to look for trends that would indicate whether the state’s Osprey population is declining or increasing, and what those trends might tell us about water quality and fish populations.
It was only several decades ago that the widespread use of DDT brought these great fish-eating raptors to the brink of extinction. But with a ban on this toxic pesticide and the efforts of government biologists, conservation groups and individuals, Ospreys have made a dramatic comeback.
You can view a map on this page showing the routes of four Ospreys that nested in Connecticut and Rhode Island and were fitted with radio tags by researchers Paul Spitzer and Rob Bierregaard. The map contains a lot of data and takes about 10 seconds to load.
Our network of Osprey Nation stewards collects and sends us data on the birds’ arrival dates each spring, the location of nests, nesting success and departure dates. We enter the data on a map for everyone to view. Osprey Nation is a partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and we will be submitting the data to DEEP biologists.
We also ask the stewards to monitor the condition of Osprey nesting sites, especially poles, and to work with Connecticut Audubon and the Connecticut DEEP to make sure they are safe and secure.
Click on the upper right-hand corner of this map for a full-screen view. Click on the red and green markers for more information about each nest. Green markers indicate nests for which we have stewards; red markers indicate nests for which we are still seeking stewards. Please note that as of late June 2014, we are not even close to knowing the location of or plotting all the Osprey nests in the state. We need your help with that too!
Volunteer for Osprey Nation
Email us at Osprey@Ctaudubon.org to volunteer!
We estimate that each volunteer will spend no more than an hour a week, from late March through August, observing, recording information and sending it to us.
The decline of Ospreys, not just in Connecticut but throughout their range, was caused by the widespread use of the toxin DDT and the loss of nest sites. A widely used agricultural pesticide, DDT entered the rivers and Sound, was absorbed in the fish the birds ate, and caused the shells of Osprey eggs to become thin and to break as it interfered with the Osprey’s ability to metabolize calcium.
Listed as Endangered in nearly every state, Ospreys began their rebound with the banning of DDT in 1972. That year was the low point for Ospreys in Connecticut, with only seven active nests. Thereafter they became a poster-child for conservation as a cleaner environment coupled with an abundance of new nest sites created by the public led to their resurgence.
Today no one knows how many Ospreys nest in Connecticut, although the number is large: on the lower Connecticut River, 29 active Osprey nests are visible from one spot in Old Lyme alone.
However, Ospreys can still ingest DDT on their wintering grounds, so continued careful monitoring is important. Even more critical is that Ospreys and the fish they eat from our waters are still great monitors for any new and unknown toxic substances that might be out there.
Ospreys are our charismatic canaries, and are a critical first line of defense in monitoring our environment and ultimate human health.