Osprey population healthy, Conn. Audubon says

An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River in Norwalk.

An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River in Norwalk.

Humans are worried about losing their privacy, and it looks like ospreys should have the same concerns.

An ongoing citizen conservation effort of Connecticut Audubon called Osprey Nation has just completed its 2017 report, one that reveals the population of the fish-hunting birds continues to rise. It also states that virtually every osprey nesting site in Connecticut has been cataloged and observed.

But in this case, officials at the Connecticut Audubon Society say that this invasion of privacy is a good thing because, moving forward, any change in osprey numbers will be because of natural or human-caused events, and not because the counts of their numbers are getting more accurate.

In short, there are very few unknown nests to be found, Connecticut Audubon says.

“This means that wildlife biologists will be able to start to determine if the Osprey’s decades-long comeback has peaked in Connecticut or if there are still enough nesting areas and food for the population to expand,” said Patrick Comins, Connecticut Audubon’s executive director. “That’s what the project has been working toward since 2014. It’s a significant milestone.”

The ongoing Osprey Nation effort counted 210 active Connecticut nesting sites in 2014, 250 in 2015, 337 in 2016 and 394 last year.

But Audubon officials, while encouraged with the upward-trending numbers, say that at least some of that rise was the result of more thorough observations.

“Their nests are pretty prominent, which makes it easier to get very accurate counts,” Comins said.

Last year about 217 in the state volunteered to monitor osprey nests and report on such data as the number of chicks and fledglings, threats from gulls and other wildlife and even their copulatory behavior.

Many of their nesting sites are platforms built for them along the shore and along rivers. Others nest on cell phone towers, navigation light towers and telephone poles.

There aren’t any ospreys in Connecticut now; they migrate to southern U.S. coastal sites during the winter. They’ll be returning to Connecticut in early to mid-March, Comins said.

Note: The Connecticut Audubon Society is not affiliated with the National Audubon Society nor its state chapter, Audubon Connecticut.