Article Posted: October 02, 2005

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Birds that nested at Alum Creek being tracked as they fly south for the winter

COLUMBUS, OH - A research project to monitor the migration of adult osprey nesting in central Ohio also allows wildlife enthusiasts to follow the birds’ movements via the Internet, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

This summer, biologists with the Division of Wildlife attached satellite transmitters to two adult osprey that successfully reared three chicks at a nest on Alum Creek Lake in Delaware County. The transmitters enable the biologists to track the birds’ movements along their migration route and those movements will be posted on the division’s web site at ohiodnr.com/wildlife/Resources/osprey/migration.htm

State wildlife biologists report that the female of the pair recently began her fall migration and has traveled to Cuba in one week’s time. The male has yet to begin his journey south.

“We hope this project will enable us to better understand the ospreys’ migration patterns and final destinations,” said Dave Sherman, wildlife biologist with the division. “We also hope to help members of the public gain insight into the wonders of migration as they follow the osprey south.”

What is already known about osprey migration is that each member of a pair migrates at a different time and usually to a different location. Females usually leave for the south a month before the males - as has happened with this Ohio pair. Females may leave earlier to reduce competition for food, while males may remain to help feed the young until they become accomplished hunters. Alum Creek’s male osprey is still being seen around the lake with this year’s offspring.

This year, a record 37 pairs produced 62 chicks, up from last year’s breeding season when 47 chicks were produced from 30 nests. While osprey nests can be found along inland lakes throughout the state, northeastern Ohio has the highest concentration.

The Division of Wildlife began reintroducing the osprey to the state in 1996, releasing 32 birds that year. Prior to reintroduction efforts, the last ospreys known to have hatched in the state were in a nest at Grand Lake St. Marys in 1913. The last known nest in the state was in 1941 at Buckeye Lake. Ospreys are a state-endangered species.

The white chest and head feathers of the osprey - also known as a fish hawk - are offset by dark brown upper parts, a distinctive dark eye line as well as brown and white tail bands. These birds of prey are 22 to 25-inches tall and have wingspans of 4.5 to 6 feet. Upon reaching breeding maturity at 3 or 4 years of age, ospreys seek a mate then choose a suitable nesting site along a large inland body of water. A female osprey typically lays two to three eggs and both adults share in rearing of offspring. Ospreys return to the same nest site year after year.

Reintroduction of the osprey is supported by sales of cardinal license plates. Plates can be obtained from any deputy registrar’s office or by calling 1-888-PLATES3. Ohioans can also contribute by checking the appropriate box for wildlife diversity efforts on their Ohio income tax form.

Source: ODNR

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