Volunteers Keep an Eye on R.I.’s Ospreys

In 2014, 66 volunteers monitored 199 known osprey nest sites across Rhode Island. (Ed Hughes/for Audubon Society of R.I.)

In 2014, 66 volunteers monitored 199 known osprey nest sites across Rhode Island. (Ed Hughes/for Audubon Society of R.I.)

By ecoRI News staff

Rhode Island’s population of ospreys, as well as the rest of the country’s, declined significantly after World War II because of the heavy use of the pesticide DDT. In 1997, hopes of better managing its osprey population, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) began monitoring the state’s population of fish-eating raptors to document their recovery and breeding success.

In 2010, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island took over management of the program. The latest osprey monitoring report shows that in 2014 a total of 186 young ospreys successfully fledged — developed feather and wing muscles for flight — compared to eight in 1977. DDT was banned in 1972.

The Rhode Island Osprey Monitoring Program relies entirely on volunteers to monitor nearly 200 known nest sites around the state.

“Observing osprey provides us with information about the health of our local ecosystems,” said Jon Scoones, Audubon Society of R.I.’s director of volunteer services. “By watching these sentinels, we not only learn more about wildlife and natural habitats, but also about the level of our impact on these special places and unique species.”

To maintain this important citizen science program, new volunteers are needed annually. Here is the 2015 osprey monitoring program orientation schedule:

Sunday, March 8, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Fish & Game Kettle Pond Office, 50 Bend Road, Charlestown, R.I.

Sunday, March 15, 4-5 p.m., Audubon Environmental Education Center, 1401 Hope St., Bristol, R.I.

Sunday, March 22, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Audubon Society of R.I. Headquarters, 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, R.I.

Candidates need only attend one session. To register for an orientation, click here.