March 11, 2013
Osprey Watch takes flight for 2013
During the next few weeks, bird watchers throughout the northern hemisphere will welcome osprey as they return to their breeding grounds. This greeting is an annual ritual that for many marks both the arrival of spring and the hope for a productive breeding season.
For the second year, the Center for Conservation Biology — a research group shared by the College of William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University — is sounding the call to osprey watchers worldwide to record and share their observations with a growing online community of global citizens that are linked by an interest in osprey biology and a concern for aquatic environments.
Last year marked the debut season for Osprey Watch, which included a network of more than 800 observers who recorded observations on 1,600 nests in five countries. Osprey Watch is a user-friendly, internet platform that allows observers across the globe to map their nests, log observations, upload photos and interact within an observer forum. Information entered into the platform will be immediately accessible to users and will be summarized following the breeding season.
Researchers at the Center for Conservation Biology hope that Osprey Watch will continue to engage a community of observers to record breeding information on a large enough spatial scale to be useful in monitoring aquatic health.
Osprey are one of very few truly global sentinels for aquatic health. They feed almost exclusively on live fish throughout their entire life cycle. They are a top consumer within aquatic ecosystems and are very sensitive to both overfishing and environmental contaminants. Nearly all populations breed in the northern latitudes and winter in the southern latitudes, effectively linking the aquatic health of the hemispheres. Their breeding season in the north is highly seasonal making them an effective barometer of climate change.
To join Osprey Watch, visit http://www.osprey-watch.org.