Connecticut Audubon Society looking for citizen volunteers

(WTNH) – Connecticut ospreys need your help!

As the number of Osprey nests continue to increase throughout across the state, The Connecticut Audubon Society  is calling on citizen volunteers to monitor their nests.

The society has put out a call for new participants in its Osprey Nation citizen science program.

“We don’t want to fall behind on the amount of information we are collecting through this valuable program,” said Milan Bull, Connecticut Audubon’s senior director of science and conservation. “Ospreys eat only fish and therefore are excellent indicators of environmental health, so we need good data to keep track of how these birds are doing.”

According to the society, they have found and mapped 575 nest locations in 2016, up from 515 last year; 293 of those are being monitored and at least 42 are inactive.

That means as many as 240 active nests are not being monitored. Those nests are spread throughout the state, in large concentrations in the towns along the lower Connecticut River, and the shore of Long Island Sound from Milford to Westbrook, as well as Groton, Norwalk and Greenwich; and even in isolated inland locations in Canterbury, Thompson, Plainfield, and Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the number of volunteer Osprey Nation stewards has dropped to 112, from 146 last season, as people move away or take on other responsibilities.

Volunteers spend about 15 minutes per nest every two weeks observing, taking notes and sending in data.

At this point in the season, the most important information is the number of fledglings from each nest and the date of departure during late-summer and fall migration.

These and other data are entered on an interactive map and also sent to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Connecticut Audubon is asking potential volunteers to email for more information. Potential volunteers can either look at the map and choose an Osprey nest marked by a red pin (green pins indicate nests that are already being monitored); peruse the list of unmonitored nest sites on the Connecticut Audubon website and find the corresponding pin numbers on the map; or ask for help matching them with a nest.

The Connecticut Audubon Society launched Osprey Nation in the summer of 2014, to create a long-term data record that will give the conservation community a better understanding of the health of Connecticut’s Osprey population.

It was only several decades ago that the widespread use of DDT brought these great fish-eating raptors to the brink of extinction. But with a ban on this toxic pesticide and the efforts of government biologists, conservation groups and individuals, Ospreys have made a dramatic comeback. Because Ospreys eat fish almost exclusively, changes in the population can be an early indicator of problems in the waters of the state and of Long Island Sound.

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