Vermont's osprey conservation success story

MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) Spring is in full swing and mother birds are starting to nest. For osprey, each chick represents a dramatic comeback for the species in Vermont.

File photo

You can spot a bunch of Osprey families when driving down the causeway between Milton and Grande Isle -- it's the most densely populated area.

"It's made an enormous comeback from its days of near extinction," said Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist John Buck. Buck is in charge of the non-game bird species in the state and says ospreys were removed from the endangered species list in 2005 because of the agency's efforts started in the 80's. "That began with some artificial nesting sites -- some platforms that we erected -- and the few ospreys that we had took to those readily."

From 1982 to 1990, Vermont Fish and Wildlife installed eight Osprey nesting sights. Ospreys also expanded out of the Lake Champlain shores and into the basin and Connecticut River Valley using natural nesting sites.

"We stopped counting nesting pairs actually some time ago, if that's any indication of how many there are," Buck said. He says they are now focusing on maintenance. "We're making sure the ospreys are not getting into trouble. Sometimes they want to nest on navigation buoys and on power lines and places where they might get hurt or might cause a boating accident."

If that's the case, biologists will relocate the nests to safer areas. Even with those precautions, Buck says the ospreys still need our help. "In order to maintain the population as great as it is, it's important that we always be vigilant with habitat conservation," he said.

That includes keeping the water clean. With clean water and plenty of trees along the shore in which to nest, Buck says people will be able to enjoy these birds for years to come.
"To see all of those ospreys within such close distance of one another is truly remarkable," he said.

From the Causeway to the Connecticut River, Vermont ospreys making a comeback.