Some of these Iconic Migratory Birds
are Now Wintering on the Chesapeake
By Tom Pelton
sprey are an iconic part of the Chesapeake Bay. These
raptors with their curved talons and piercing cries
are seemingly everywhere on the Bay, their nests
crowning channel markers and other landmarks.
The epic migrations of osprey from South America to the
Chesapeake Bay mark the seasons, with their return in March
a traditional sign of spring.
Populations of osprey in the Bay have quadrupled since the
1970s because of a federal ban on the pesticide DDT. But,
increasingly, the migratory schedule of osprey is being altered
by a new environmental problem: climate change.
Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of the Center for Conservation
Biology at the College of William and Mary and Virginia
Commonwealth University, said that in recent years he has
seen 15 to 20 osprey living in the southern Bay all winter,
instead of migrating south to Brazil, Venezuela, or Columbia.
Dr. Watts and his colleagues conduct visual surveys of bird
populations from airplanes, and have seen the resident osprey
around Virginia’s Chickahominy River, among other locations.
in this issue
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