Monday, August 3, 2015

Ospreys Keep their Iconic Place in the Lynnhaven

Most of us recognize the Osprey as a common bird hovering over the Lynnhaven, or nesting atop a channel marker or pole. It has made an amazing recovery from DDT, which caused numbers to plummet in the 1950's through the 1960's. (In fact, one of the largest risks to their current population is entanglement in twine, balloon line, and discarded fishing line- #bekindwithyourline, #bubblesnotballoons! Always properly dispose of fishing line.) The Osprey is a unique raptor with 99% of its diet coming from live fish, which means that it usually must live no farther than 12 miles from water and fish.

For the 3rd year, The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and The Center for Conservation Biology at The College of William and Mary recently conducted a 2-month long Osprey survey of the Lynnhaven River identifying 98 nests. This is up from a recorded 62 nests in 2013, though not directly comparable, due to an increased survey area this year, but still good news for our Ospreys!

24 Osprey chicks from 12 nests were banded with a US Geological Survey uniquely numbered band on their right leg, and a Purple (for the Chesapeake Bay watershed) alpha-numeric band on the left leg. (In 1992, only 4 Osprey chicks were banded in 3 nests!)

Researchers believe one of the primary reasons for an increase in breeding populations is the building of nesting platforms. Of the 98 nests identified, 86 were on platforms and channel markers! The remaining 12 were on trees, mostly in First Landing State Park. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in building and maintaining these platforms in the Lynnhaven watershed - they are making a difference!

Thanks to Reese Lukei, Jr., Research Associate at the Center for Conservation Biology at The College of William and Mary and Crystal Matthews, Curator of Birds at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, for sharing your research with us!  These wonderful pictures were taken by Reese Lukei, Jr. as well.

Now, for some more fun pictures! 

Weighing in!

Sorry to wake you, sweetheart!

Adults have yellow eyes, juveniles have red eyes

Crystal Matthews holding a newly banded Osprey chick!

Blog post written by Trista Imrich, Restoration Coordinator, Lynnhaven River NOW

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