Monday, March 27, 2017

This week.....

First Ospreys are back on the nest in start your cars! This is the week! We will see some of our friends here in Minnesota very soon! 
Thanks for all the interest from new volunteers....I am hoping to meet up with many of you very soon!!! We still need some monitors on the west side of the metro! Email me at

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Out and about...

I went for a little ride today. I had been losing sleep over a nest where I saw some plastic landscape netting last fall, after chicks had fledged. Was worried about what might happen this year and was lying awake trying to figure out where I could get a climber to get that crap out of the nest. So happy to find that the stuff I saw in the nest last fall is now below the nest tangled around the support arms of the platform, and not where chicks could get caught up in it. Whew. It's nightmare material for me. Checked a few other nests where we typically see some of our earliest returns, but saw no Ospreys, no fresh whitewash or freshly broken sticks. Some nests have been removed from cell towers. Sigh. I rewarded myself with a chocolate croissant and a latte. As the project grows, the demands on me continue to expand (lead scientist, secretary, volunteer coordinator, webmaster, fundraiser, public relations director) and preparing for the new season takes a lot of time, finding and organizing volunteers , meeting and training the new ones, always needing more so many ways. Wishing we had the support we need to grow this research study into something really many possibilities for Investigation. Meanwhile we do the very best we can to keep accurate track of all known nests, maintaining a complete productivity study, putting up new nests when we find some boys scouts to help, finding new nests on man made structures. Thanks to the experienced volunteers who are already visiting nests to look for Ospreys and assess the condition of the nests and supporting structures.
We will see what the tide brings in this year....

Friday, March 24, 2017

Please help us.....

The Ospreys will be returning to their nests in the twin cities area within the next few days or weeks. (Ospreys are already back on the east coast and in Missouri.) Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch needs your help. This is our annual plea to please report new nests or osprey activity in the eight county metro area to us. We are trying to monitor all know nests in Hennepin, Ramsey, Carver, Washington, Anoka, Wright, Dakota and Scott counties as part of a long term study on these raptors. We are also seeking volunteers to help monitor these nests. (122 known occupied nests last year, which included 13 new nests.) We are assembling our field teams now so If you are interested in helping us by checking a nest once a week through the breeding season, please contact Vanessa Greene at
Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might be interested in joining this research effort. Thanks!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

spring migration.....

Are the Ospreys on their way home? Our weather here has us thinking about an early spring and I am already getting reports of Ospreys back on the nest but I question these sightings. Our Ospreys from Minnesota usually spend their winters  in South and Central America. They are unaware of what the weather is like here in the upper Midwest. What is it that triggers their northerly spring migration? It is not necessarily weather related. The urge to migrate is triggered by a hormonal response to the length of the day. We do not currently have any Ospreys here with satellite transmitters on them to monitor their movements, but Ospreys in other parts of the world that are being followed do show movement. Some Ospreys have shown up on nests in the southeastern U.S. But this is just the beginning of the northerly movements of the earliest migrants. I do believe that weather has some effect upon their migration since they rely upon strong northerly winds to carry them back to their breeding territories. When they begin to get closer to home, if they encounter frozen lakes, a snowy landscape or strong southerly winds they will begin to slow down. Food (fish) may be difficult to find. Northerly movements may slow down or even halt. I have been documenting return dates here for 23 years and while there is some variation in return dates, it does not vary wildly. We will probably not see Ospreys returning to their nests a month early. We have seen return dates altered  by a week or so if they are lucky enough to find open fishable waters and good northerly wind currents. The older more experienced breeding pairs are usually the first to return since they know that the sooner they lay eggs, the greater the chance of survival for their offspring. (Those older chicks begin their fall migration better prepared than late hatching juveniles.) Younger unmated Ospreys will continue to trickle in until late April, looking for mates and territories while the early returning birds will already be incubating.
Having said all that, we are preparing for the return of our winged friends. I know many nest monitors have been in touch with me and I hope all that have monitored in the past will contact me and re-up for another year of observing these magnificent raptors. We ALWAYS need more help, with over 120 nests to watch over, so if anyone is interested in watching over a nest or two thru the breeding season, please email me at so we can talk about our monitoring protocols and find an appropriate nest for you to adopt. We ask that you commit to checking the nests once a week, and if you are unable to for some reason (vacation, sickness, life) just let me know so we can fill in. It is necessary to have some birding equipment....a spotting scope or good binoculars. I am getting myself a new tripod (thanks Anamaria Betterman!), a new field notebook, last years data bound and ready for reference, new charts on my iPad ready to fill in for the 2017 season. Hope some more of you will join us in the great Osprey adventure this year!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Thanks to all the friends, family and volunteer monitors who came to the Birds of Prey benefit fundraiser last Saturday evening, hosted by the Raptor Resource Project. What a fun evening.....the Brian Boru bagpipe band got the evening off to a rousing start...lots of interesting talks and great music followed. I deeply appreciate the support shown and it was so comforting to see the familiar faces in the audience when I spoke. Special thanks to Andrea Niemi, Carol Christians and her husband ( whose name I can't recall right now, sorry), Grace and Roger Pass, Brad Benn, and of course Frank and Trudy Taylor. I also want to thank Barb Ankrum for sending a generous donation to me since she could not make it to the event.
A special thanks to Mike Haeg for all his help preparing the PowerPoint program. I couldnt do this work without a lot of help. And of course a huge thanks to the Raptor Resource Project, John Howe and John Dingley for including me! I am so grateful!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2016 Osprey Report.....

by Vanessa Greene
The year 2016 was a very successful year for the Ospreys in the eight county metro area surrounding Minneapolis and St.Paul. The first Osprey positively identified was a young banded male back on his nest on March 31! This year must be characterized once again as a very productive one for the Osprey population in this 32 year study with the population continuing to grow rapidly. There were 122 nests which were occupied* by a pair of adult ospreys. In addition there was one nest where two different adult banded Ospreys were seen briefly, but they were never observed copulating, feeding, courting or doing any nest building. The nest collapsed completely so this was not counted as a nesting attempt. (There may be more nests we do not know about.) One additional nest was a frustration nest and therefore not counted as a separate territory. Eggs were laid in 113 nests (97 in 2015) and 92 of these nests had at least one chick that was confirmed to have fledged successfully or survived to fledging age (75 in 2015). There were 30 nests which failed (35 in 2015). There are two distinct subcategories under failures; nests where a pair was present but no eggs were laid (9) and nests where eggs were laid but they failed to successfully fledge a single chick (21). (Not laying eggs is considered to be a kind of nest failure by other scientists.)
There were 207 chicks that were known to have fledged successfully or survived to fledging age! This represents another jump in the number of chicks produced compared to past years. Most successful nests had two to three chicks (51 nests with two chicks and 32 nests with three chicks) with only 9 nests that produced a single chick. One nest produced four chicks, but only two survived to fledge successfully. There was a lower mortality rate this year with only 19 chicks which were known to have died or disappeared before fledging, although many nests failed before we were able to see or accurately count chicks. One adult also disappeared midseason. There were 101 adult Ospreys identified by their bands. One of these was from Iowa, and one was from southern Ontario. There were 13 new nesting territories that we know of, including two nests that were newly discovered this year although reports indicated that they had been there for one or more years. Eight of these new nests successfully fledged chicks. There were 15 banded Ospreys which were believed to have bred successfully for the first time and their average age was 4.33 years old. (Average age of first successful breeding for males this year was 4.8 years and for females it was 3.4 years).
The overall productivity of occupied nests which were successful this year was 75%, (68% in 2015, 70% in 2014, 67% in 2013, and 77% in 2012). The mean number of young fledged per successful nest was 2.25 (2.43 in 2015, 1.77 in 2014). The mean number of young fledged per active nest was 1.83 (1.88 in 2015, 1.41 in 2014) and the mean number of young fledged per occupied nest was 1.70 (1.65 in 2015, 1.25 in 2014). These numbers reflect an overall increase in productivity per nest, although there was a drop in productivity in successful nests. The cluster of ten nests which all failed within a small area last year, (approx five mile radius) had better luck this year but still had seven nests fail in close proximity. The causes for these failures are still not entirely clear. Last year some failures were attributed to predation but this year it appeared to be largely a result of unhatched eggs, which raises its own questions. A few nests in other areas were blown down during windstorms, but generally the weather was not a large factor in nest failure. Once again, of particular behavioral interest, was the male who mated with two females on two nests within sight of each other. He successfully produced six chicks which all survived to fledging age. This is his third year of polygyny, and his second year of reproducing successfully at two nests. Our oldest male on record, at 22 years of age in 2015, did not return from migration this year. He was our last translocated hacked chick from the reintroduction project. The two oldest banded ospreys this year were 22 and 16 years of age. The banding program at Three Rivers Park District continued to be curtailed with only 30 chicks at 13 nests receiving bands.
*Successful nests are those that were known to have fledged at least one chick successfully, active nests are those where eggs are laid and occupied nests are those where pairs are present at a nest site for a period of time, regardless of the time of year or whether or not they lay.
Any use of this data should have its source appropriately acknowledged.
Vanessa Greene
Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch

Sunday, February 5, 2017


I have been working hard through January to gather all the data we collected in 2016, analyze and organize it. Every year it's a bigger job! I will be writing a few posts about the results but I want to start with the acknowledgements of all the wonderful people who have helped and supported my efforts. I could not do this without you all....


There are so many people who have been instrumental in helping Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch continue this Osprey research. Special thanks to Alice Stoddard, Barb Ankrum, Josh Albers, Grace Pass, Faith Christine, Margaret Wurtele, Phyllis Bofferding, Sue Chaplin, Diane Farley, Mary Mullett, Carol Christians, Marc Rude, Janae Herman, Perry Westphal, Nikki Schiers, Larry Waldhauser, Erik Gulsvig, Dani Porter Born, Barbara Gaughan, Karen Connolly, Paul Diegnau, Meg Smith, Jacky Hedman, and Judy Englund for sharing their observations, their commitment to this effort, their photos, and their love for these birds.
Thanks to all the private property owners who are such important and wonderful hosts to our Ospreys, and who have provided me access to these nests for monitoring.
Special thanks to Tim Fenstermacher at Aggregate Industries, and Erick Tuckner at Bolander Construction, for all their cooperation in allowing me to monitor nests on their properties.
A very heartfelt thanks to Cathy Gagliardi, Suzanne Johnson, Perry Westphal, Carol Christians and Barb Ankrum for their generous financial donations and gas gift cards. I am deeply grateful for your support and for showing your faith in my ongoing efforts to continue this long term research study.

Vanessa Greene