Osprey Nest Survey

This year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is conducting a statewide survey of osprey nests. The osprey is one of Pennsylvania’s most popular raptors. Like the bald eagle, it is a charismatic bird of conservation concern that is strongly associated with aquatic habitats. Yet often it is found near humans. Unique in appearance, it is truly the “people’s fish hawk.”

Osprey Nest Photo by Joe Kosack

If you know the location of a pair of nesting ospreys, please contact us. The osprey population has grown steadily since its reintroduction in the 1980s. Although the Game Commission has located more than 100 nests in recent years, some nests have been overlooked. That is why we need your assistance. The osprey nest survey is an initiative that would not be possible without the help of volunteers. More information about the survey can be found on the Game Commission’s website.  Just download the Osprey Nest Survey Form along with the Nest Observation Protocol, and submit it to osprey@pa.gov.

We would appreciate your reports of active osprey nests by July 31. A statewide osprey survey was completed in 2010 and at least 115 nests were found. Since then, ospreys have continued to expand into new areas. We would like to learn of these new nests. Please do not assume that a nest location you know has been covered by somebody else. The coordinates of the nest support structure are important to include as well. Use online mapping programs to find the coordinates.

Distribution of Pennsylvania osprey nests and associated secondary drainages. Nests active in 2014, x, or active at least one year since 1990, +, Hydrologic unit boundaries (HUC6), yellow lines. County boundaries, black lines. -By Patti Barber

Your osprey nest data will be used to update the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program database and also enable us to better understand the status of this state-threatened species and its management potential. We intend to find at least 10 active nesting pairs in at least four different watershed clusters. That is a modest goal that we are confident that we can achieve with your assistance. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us with this important survey.

By: Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission Ornithologist, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Diversity team

For more information on ospreys read the comprehensive description, recovery and management plan and a recent Pennsylvania eBird article.

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