A new home for osprey: Nest at Swan Lake
Friday, August 10, 2012
A new tower at Swan Lake State Park is designed to help re-introduce ospreys into Iowa, after they were nearly wiped out in the 1970s due to pesticides. The tower is located east of the Conservation and Education Center and will feature a web cam where viewers can watch the young birds mature. Ospreys migrate south for the winter, but it is hoped that they will adopt the new facility as their permanent home. Daily Times Herald photo by Jeff Storjohann
The Carroll County Department of Natural Resources, Saving Our Avian Resources and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have teamed up to reintroduce osprey into the area.
Carroll County Conservation naturalist Matt Wetrich said three osprey were relocated from a nest in Minnesota to a nest in Swan Lake State Park.
He said the process is a complicated one, but reintroduction has been successful before.
Wetrich said the first step in relocating osprey is making sure the hatchlings are old enough to be imprinted on their parents.
He said if birds are taken from their parents too soon they will think they are human.
Wetrich said more osprey have died from mental factors rather than physical ones because they try to do tasks they see humans doing.
He said the osprey need to be relocated between the time they are imprinted on their parents and when they learn to fly, because osprey usually come back to nest where they learn to fly.
Wetrich said this fall the osprey will fly south, as far as Argentina, and stay there for about two years. He said they won’t make it back to Carroll until they are about 21/2 years old.
He said they usually nest within 100 miles of their nests when they come back.
This is the first attempt in Carroll to reintroduce osprey, but Saving Our Avian Resources, out of Dedham, has been trying to reintroduce them for several years.
For now, Wetrich said, the DNR has put bands on the three birds and is hoping they will stick around for awhile longer.
He said two birds have been hanging around the area.
Osprey identified AX was still in the nest on Thursday and AW came back to the nest for feeding.
The osprey labeled AV has not been seen since it left the nest.
Anyone who sees an osprey, Wetrich said, should contact the DNR because they are trying to track the birds’ locations.
Wetrich said there are only about 17 osprey nests left in Iowa. He said that’s a significant growth from a few years ago.
He said DDT, a synthetic insecticide that was also blamed for the near extinction of bald eagles, contributed a major part to nearly wiping out the species from Iowa.
Wetrich said the osprey population is doing better in Wisconsin and Minnesota because of the abundance of water.
He said osprey mostly eat fish.
Osprey aren’t eagles or hawks, but a separate breed. They have white heads and bodies with dark wings. Osprey look similar to a hawk and are usually seen around waterways and tend to hang around open areas.
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