ENDANGERED OSPREY NUMBERS TAKE FLIGHT IN INDIANA
Department of Natural Resources biologists recently placed 16 brightly painted young osprey chicks into rearing boxes at 4 locations in northern and southern Indiana.
On the afternoon of June 22, the first of two releases of osprey chicks took place at DNR’s Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area near Medaryville, Minnehaha Fish and Wildlife Area near Sullivan, Tri-Country Fish and Wildlife Area near Warsaw and Patoka Reservoir in Crawford County.
On June 28, the second release will take place at the same four DNR properties. The young birds will be marked with fluorescence paints and placed in boxes atop 16-foot-high towers. The non-toxic paint help biologists identify the 6-week-old birds when they begin to fly and hunt. Biologists will feed the birds until they are ready to fly.
The releases will help speed recovery of the state-endangered bird in Indiana. Biologists obtained the osprey chicks from Virginia where the birds are common. DNR plans a final release of 16 birds in 2006. The towers where the birds are kept are not publicly accessible, but the birds may be spotted around the areas when they begin to fly.
DNR’s osprey project biologist, John Castrale, expects the birds to begin flying in the next couple of weeks. He hopes that the birds will nest near the release areas in the next three to five years when the birds reach maturity. Ospreys were considered a regular migrant and local summer resident statewide in Indiana in the early 1900s. Osprey populations declined rapidly between 1950 and 1980 due to DDT pesticide usage and loss of wetlands. The banning of DDT in combination with state conservation programs has allowed the osprey to make a comeback throughout much of the United States.
Ospreys feed almost exclusively on fish. They build stick nests in dead trees or on man-made structures, such as utility poles. Nine of the 11 current nests are on man-made nesting structures. The DNR’s osprey project is funded by donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund through the Indiana income tax form.