West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
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West and Rhode Riverkeeper Blog

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Apr 03

Conservation Corps'ner: Spring 2014

Posted by: Joe

Tagged in: Untagged 

 (Photo Credit Alan Vernon/Flickr)

Now that spring has arrived, Osprey have returned to the Chesapeake Bay area. Ospreys are one of the largest raptors in North American and will migrate thousands of miles to and from central and South America. They are large hawk like creatures that have white and brown patterns on their wings. Ospreys’ bellies and heads are white with a black stripe that runs across their eyes and the back of their necks. Females have a necklace of brown tipped breast feathers.

Ospreys are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Their habitats include marshes, rivers, and open waters. They primarily feed on fish and can grow up 2 feet tall with a wingspan of up to 6 feet. They hunt for food while flying high above the water. Once they have spotted their prey, they will hover in the air beating their wings and then dive in to the water.

While in South America, they will find another osprey and mate for life. Once the winter is over adults will return back to the same nesting areas they were born in. More mature adults will arrive in late February or early march while younger adults arrive later in the season. Females will eventually lay 3 eggs between mid April and late May. The eggs hatch about 40 days later and are fed fish for about 2 months until the fledglings are mature enough to fly. The families will stay together as the fledglings learn to fish and then begin to migrate once they become independent. Juveniles often migrate later in summer near the last week of August.

Ospreys are making a remarkable recovery after the mid twentieth century use of the pesticide DDT that nearly wiped out the population along with many other birds.

Now that spring is approaching, it is a great time to see these amazing creatures. There are many places that osprey can be found in the Anne Arundel County area. Some great locations are Quiet Waters Park, Thomas Point Park, Sandy Point State Park, and even Herrington Harbor. Some good places to spot them in the West/Rhode Watersheds are the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Discovery Village, and Jack Creek Park in Shady Side.