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Osprey returning to northwest Ohio

Osprey working on a nest in 2013 at ONWR. Photo from ONWR.

There are high hopes at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR) near Oak Harbor. This week a pair of osprey have been working on a nest at a platform in the Blausey Unit of the Refuge. If successful, it would be the first osprey nest in northwest Ohio since 1913. 

Ospreys are bright white underneath, with dark brown patches at the carpal joints and a mottled dark brown necklace. The bottoms of an osprey's feet are specially adapted for gripping and carrying fish, as they are covered with short, sharp spines. Average length of an osprey is 25 inches, with a wingspan of 4-5 feet. 

Like bald eagles, ospreys have faced many of the same crises which decimated their numbers in North America. Though they were quite common at one time, habitat destruction, poor water quality, agricultural chemicals and pesticides such as DDT resulted in no osprey being seen in Ohio from 1913 to 1996. In 1996, Ohio began efforts to reintroduce and restore osprey populations, with the goal of 20 nesting pairs by 2010. This goal was achieved well ahead of schedule in 2003, though no osprey nests are in northwest Ohio. 

Inviting osprey to ONWR

The Refuge was contacted by Dick Tuttle and Dick Philips in 2009. Both men are retired science school teachers who have assisted in constructing several osprey platforms in the Delaware area. 

The ONWR platform was put up in the recently restored wetlands habitat of the Blausey Unit in February, 2013. Ospreys feed almost entirely on fish living in shallow water, making the ONWR wetlands an ideal location for a nest. An osprey pair began constructing a nest in July of 2013, but the nest was unsuccessful. Now there again is a pair building a nest on the platform, although it is unknown if it is the same pair from 2013. 

For more information on ONWR, go to www.fws.gov/midwest/ottawa.‎

For more information or to volunteer with the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association, go to www.onwra.com.

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