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Volunteers document a record number of fledgling osprey in CT this year

Great Marsh Meadows.
Sabrina Garone
An osprey flies over Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, Conn.

Volunteers with the Connecticut Audubon Society's Osprey Nation have documented close to 900 fledgling chicks in Connecticut this year — the most ever recorded by the project.

Osprey Nation is a community science effort. Nest stewards monitored 688 active nests around the state this year, producing 881 fledgling chicks. Over 100 of those nests were newly documented.

“Anyone can do it," said program coordinator Nick Ferrauolo. "There are folks who go every single day out to their nests, and those people are able to detect subtle changes in the birds' behavior.” 

Sabrina Garone
An osprey nesting platform near Gulf Pond in Milford, Conn.

Just a few decades ago, osprey numbers were decimated by the pesticide DDT in the water supply. It made their eggshells too thin and break too early. Connecticut had an all-time low number of breeding osprey in 1970 with just eight pairs.

A ban on the pesticide in 1972, along with local efforts to build up nesting platforms, allowed their numbers to skyrocket.

“Osprey are just really cool birds. They’re big, they’re charismatic and for the most part they nest in places that everyone can see, so it’s sort of hard to not fall in love with them," Ferrauolo said.

Osprey can be spotted in Connecticut between early spring and late summer, with nests along the state’s rivers and coastline.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.