about south river federation

April 27, 2011

Today was a frustrating day for the osprey.

First, I saw Frank and Margaret flying around their nest very agitated.  Then, I saw why they were agitated—there were two men removing the eggs from their nest. The two osprey eggs were physically removed from the nest this morning at the marina’s request by the US Fish and Wildlife. 


The two men from US Fish and Wildlife had been asked to remove the eggs from the nest so the marina could move the boat.  The osprey had made a nest in the high bridge.  I was glad to see the marina take the appropriate steps to have the eggs removed, but it was still very frustrating to watch them take the eggs away.  It was especially hard to watch Margaret sit in her now empty nest.  

After meeting the guys at the pier, Jennifer and I had the opportunity to go out on the DNR boat and watch them place the eggs into two other osprey nests in the South River.   I try to think of the silver lining in this situation, the eggs will survive and Frank and Margaret will survive.  However, I won’t be able to watch the eggs hatch or see the chicks grow. 

This whole experience got me thinking an osprey doesn’t need to be on the endangered species list in order for us to protect it.  Under the Federal Migratory Bird Act, ospreys are federally protected birds.  They are not endangered birds, but they are still protected.  Why is it then important to protect them even if they are not endangered?  Well that’s just it, if we didn’t protect them, then they would become endangered.  During the 50s and 60s, the osprey population was close to extinction due to the use of DDT.  DDT made eggshells thin and weak and when the females were sitting their eggs, the eggs would crack and the young would die.  It wasn’t until the 1970s that DDT was banned and the osprey population started to make a comeback.  DDT had a huge impact on the osprey population in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

To bring the subject home to the South River Watershed, DNR says, there are 30 pairs of osprey nesting in our watershed.  That is a total of 60 birds.  Today, someone said, “I see lots of osprey, why do we even need to protect them.”  The DNR representative had a great answer to this question.  When you are seeing ospreys, you are seeing the entire population.  They are not like other birds, who can live near the water, in the woods, or in the fields.  Osprey have a very specific living area.  So again, when you see osprey on the water, you are seeing their ENTIRE population.  In the case of the South River, we have 60,000 people in our watershed and we have 60 osprey.  That is a ratio of 1:1,000.  We have one osprey per one-thousand people. 

Doesn’t seem like a lot of osprey when you come down to it.  It is important to protect these creatures and help them thrive.  They are an integral part of the watershed ecosystem and we need them to have a healthy South River.