The osprey are returning to the Northern Hemisphere this month and beginning to repair nests and reconnect with their mates. Project OspreyWatch is in its fourth year organizing citizen scientists to collect data and make observations about breeding osprey. In 2014, the project monitored 1,538 nests on three continents through the efforts of over 1,800 volunteers and researchers. This season OspreyWatch volunteers in the Caribbean and Florida have documented hundreds of nests with eggs or chicks. If you haven’t visited your nest(s) recently, we encourage you to observe the nest and check if adults are present and what stage the nesting activities are in this month.
Our OspreyWatch volunteers collect data on when adults first arrive back at the nest (if part of the migratory population), when eggs are laid in the nest, number of young seen, and the date the young successfully fledge. Nest failure rates are also important to record and OspreyWatch volunteers document the fate of nests from storm damage, nest predators (raccoons and owls), human caused nest destruction, and nest abandonment. Data collection on a large spatial scale enables osprey researchers to see broad trends in breeding chronology and breeding success.
OspreyWatch has helped facilitate data collection for researchers and citizen monitoring groups in Ontario, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Virginia, and California. The LowCountry Institute in coastal South Carolina joined OspreyWatch in 2013 and uses the website to coordinate 22 volunteers monitoring 420 nests (read their 5-yr study report). Contact program manager Libby Mojica at firstname.lastname@example.org if your citizen science group would like to join as a monitoring group.
Interested in volunteering as an Osprey nest watcher? Register for an account on http://www.osprey-watch.org/