about south river federation

April 13, 2011

After the first blog, I realized these osprey needed names—they have a lot of personality!  After watching them, the names Frank and Margaret popped into my head.  I looked outside again and watched her meticulously place a stick in the nest, while he sat perched high on the boat; on full alert for any predators.  So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Frank & Margaret!

Frank and Margaret have been very busy with nest building.  Their nest has grown significantly over the weekend and this week.  After doing some research, I found that average nests are 1 to 2 feet deep, and can range from 3 to 6 feet in diameter!  From my window, it looks like they have built two nests—one on top of each other.  Ospreys are known to build more than one nest in their territory, but this seems a little close.  I’m thinking Frank has given Margaret a selection of twigs to choose from for building their nest.  During the nesting season, they will continuously repair the nest with these extra twigs and branches.

Since Frank and Margaret have taken up residence in the flying bridge of one of the boats, I was curious to know more about the rules & regulations of osprey nest building.  Can you remove a nest?  What happens to the property after the nest becomes “active”, meaning eggs are present in the nest.  After a slight mishap with human interference with the ospreys, I was even more curious to know the rules.    

I talked to Diana, South RIVERKEEPER®, who talked to Peter, our local osprey connection, and this is what they had to say about nest rules & regulations.   

Ospreys, as with most birds found in the United States, are protected by both state and federal laws. The arrival of spring in the Chesapeake Bay also means the arrival of ospreys, who are seeking suitable nesting sites for the remainder of spring and summer. Once almost an extirpated species in the Chesapeake Bay region, ospreys are now a commonly observed species, with approximately 3,600 nesting pairs in the region. Unfortunately, ospreys that nest in the Chesapeake Bay region nest mostly on man-made structures such as duck blinds, power poles, navigational markers, nest platforms, and, in this case, a flying bridge of a boat. 

Such nesting sites can be frustrating to property owners. Under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), osprey are a protected species. Protection includes their nests, eggs, and young. Under federal law, osprey nests can be removed from private property before any eggs or young are present in the nest, however, once eggs or young are present in the nest (early April through July/August), the nest can no longer be removed or disturbed. If a property owner has an osprey nesting on their property, and the nest contains eggs or young, then the property owner must apply for a federal MBTA permit to remove the nest.  They can do this by contacting the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Migratory Birds at 413-253-8577.  If someone sees human disturbance to an active osprey nest they should report activities to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Enforcement Coalition Hotline (CBEEC) at 1-800-377-5879, a 24 hour manned hotline.  CBEEC is a coalition of state and federal law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing environmental regulations in the Chesapeake Bay region.

I enjoy watching Frank and Margaret build their nest piece by piece.  I never realized the intricate process they take in building their home.  I look forward to seeing what happens next in “As the World Turns—Osprey Style.”