COLUMBUS, OH - Sixteen osprey obtained from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia were recently released this summer in eastern and northern Ohio as part of an eight-year effort to reintroduce this great bird of prey to the Buckeye State, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Osprey were once fairly common in Ohio, said Steven A. Gray, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife. We have worked since 1995 to re-establish a resident breeding population of osprey and our efforts so far show promising results.
Six fledgling birds have been prepared for release by state wildlife biologists at Lake LaSuAn State Wildlife Area in Williams County and eight have been prepared by staff biologists for the Wilds in Muskingum County. Two more birds have been fostered into nests in Portage and Stark counties.
The birds we have just received represent a win-win situation for both the states of Ohio and Virginia, said Gray. These birds were obtained from nests located too close to a runway at Langley Air Force Base, presenting a hazard to aircraft. Now, instead of posing a risk for military pilots they are boosting Ohios wildlife diversity efforts.
Reintroduction of the birds involves a process known as hacking, which means taking osprey that are not yet able to fly and feeding them in an enclosed cage for a few weeks until they mature and are ready for flight. Food is provided to the ospreys until they become proficient hunters.
One of the difficulties faced in re-establishing the species in Ohio is the tremendous distance that osprey migrate. Young osprey travel as far south as South America, and may not return to Ohio as breeding adults for three or four years.
Ospreys, also referred to as fish eagles, were once common throughout North America, including Ohio. Extensive use of pesticides, particularly DDT, resulted in dramatic population declines.
Prior to Ohios reintroduction efforts, the last successfully producing osprey nest in Ohio was at Grand Lake Saint Marys in 1913. The last known nest in the state was at Buckeye Lake in 1941.
Known for their dramatic feeding habits, ospreys hunt by hovering high over a lake, river or pond searching for fish near the waters surface. When a fish is sighted, the bird will fold its wings and dive, hitting the water talons first.
Ospreys are listed as endangered in the state of Ohio. The program to reintroduce the species to the state is funded by the ODNR Division of Wildlifes Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund.
The fund is derived from contributions to the state income tax check-off program and from the sale of wildlife conservation license plates. Ohio taxpayers can donate all or a portion of their refund to the Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund each year on their Ohio income tax form.
Wildlife conservation license plates featuring either Ohios state bird, the Northern cardinal, or the American bald eagle can be purchased through a deputy registrar license outlet or by calling the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles toll free at 1-888-PLATES3