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Osprey Nesting Platforms

Osprey populations were decimated by the effects of the insecticide DDT and declined by more than 90% between 1950 and 1970. But through a ban on the devastating use of DDT in 1972, combined with targeted conservation efforts, Ospreys have shown a steady population increase since then. Although no longer considered “Endangered” in New York State, Osprey are still deemed a “Species of Special Conservation Concern” by the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

Ospreys prefer to nest up high and near open water since most of their diet consists of fish. (This is also where they get the nickname of "fish hawk.”) Unfortunately, due to natural habitat loss, Osprey often end up using man-made structures like utility poles and cell towers (instead of trees and snags) for nesting sites, which can pose a hazardous situation if those structures have energized wires.

 

In 2015, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy installed a nesting pole and platform at its Loomis Goose Creek Preserve on Route 394 in North Harmony hoping to attract an Osprey pair and provide them with a safe nesting place. Though it took several years, an Osprey pair claimed the site as their home and successfully nested and raised their first chick there in 2020. The pair – whom we have affectionately named Femke (female) and Hauke (male) – have returned each year since, and last year, they happily surprised us with not just one but three chicks! Femke and Hauke are once again home and nesting for the season at the Loomis Goose Creek Preserve, and we eagerly await what 2024 has in store for them.

For the past four years, we’ve had a motion-activated camera installed over the nest at the Loomis Goose Creek Preserve so we can follow along with the antics of “our” birds. If you want to share in the lives of Femke and Hauke and see pictures of their family life, or if you want to see when and where new platforms are installed, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. The preserve is also open to the public from dawn until dusk, so you can also stop by and visit them in person! Although Osprey are fairly tolerant of human activity, please be mindful and respectful of their space when visiting.

To help other Osprey families, we are working with local partners to install additional Osprey nesting platforms in safe and suitable locations. Three were placed in 2023 in the City of Jamestown last year (downtown by the Chadakoin River basin, at McCrae Point Park, and at Jones Memorial Park). In the spring of 2024, three more were placed at locations around Chautauqua Lake (one at Camp Onyahsa, one at Chautauqua Institution, and one at Chautauqua Golf Club. Plans are in the works to add even more platforms as funding allows.

 

You can support our efforts to establish even more local nesting platforms to help these amazing birds survive and thrive safely and healthily in Chautauqua County by making a general donation here.

(photos by Jeanne Wiebenga)

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