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Osprey Nest Survey

Help Needed

As recently as 1986, only one osprey nest could be found in Pennsylvania. Today, they are nesting in more than 20 counties. For many years following a very successful reintroduction program (1980-1996), the Game Commission conducted annual surveys of nest sites. However, limited funding and staff have made these annual surveys next to impossible. Consequently, we are seeking the help of birders and other volunteers to assess the current osprey population. The results of the 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas were remarkable – thanks to many of you! – and we are eager to learn more about the distribution of Pennsylvania's osprey nest sites; what type of nest support structure the birds are using; what types of water bodies they are favoring; their reproductive success; and other attributes of their nesting sites. This effort is an important "snapshot" of the distribution of nesting ospreys statewide. The information will be used to update the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program database and enable us to better understand the status of this species and its management potential.

Participation in the survey is fairly easy. It helps that ospreys are pretty cool, charismatic, and easily observed and identified. Their nests often can be seen at a considerable distance and should be monitored with binoculars from a safe distance. Please do not approach nests. For updated information on the natural history and conservation of ospreys in Pennsylvania, please review the osprey account in the Endangered and Threatened Species Section.

If you know about a pair of ospreys, we'd appreciate hearing from you. Don't assume someone else will report a local nest. Download the   Osprey Nest Survey Form (PDF) along with the Nest Observation Protocol (PDF). Completed survey forms should be submitted to

We are primarily interested in the location of each active nest and, if possible, the number of chicks in each nest, along with basic information about what the nest was built on and what type of water body the nest is near. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us with this important survey.