Ospreys Continue to Rebound

Long Island’s osprey population continued its dramatic rebound in the summer of 2022, according to statistics released in late January by the Group for the East End.

During the summer, the Gropu documented 353 nesting pairs who produced 505 offspring in the five East End towns. 

These numbers don’t include such wildlife hotspots as Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, or Gardiners Island, Robins Island, Fishers Island and Plum Island.

The Group also documented that ospreys have returned to nesting in trees, their historic nesting sites before the population was ravaged by use of the pesticide DDT, which was banned nationwide in 1972. The Group was an earlier pioneer of the installation of osprey nesting poles throughout the East End, which the birds have actively embraced.

“For centuries, breeding pairs found natural nesting sites along our beaches, shoreline, and waterways,” said The Group in a mid-January press release. “While it is a great sign that ospreys are nesting in their original habitat again, many still make their home atop utility poles, which can appear as an attractive location for the birds, calling for critical mitigation efforts to help protect the species.”

The Group has been working with PSEG-Long Island since 2021 to survey utility poles that could potentially be used as nesting sites, after which more than 80 of those poles were fitted with v-guard installations, which look like tents over the poles, to prevent ospreys from building nests there. 

“This partnership is invaluable,” shares Group environmental associate Marina DeLuca. “The number of potential conflicts and emergency situations that have been avoided through this preventative work will be visible for years to come.”

In 2023, the Group will host a training for PSEG Long Island staff to discuss the history of the osprey, how to identify hazards, and address potential conflicts. The Group will also continue to survey high risk areas and work with PSEG Long Island to install mitigation measures.

“PSEG Long Island has worked for many years to carefully relocate osprey nests on electrical equipment, because we believe in environmental stewardship and because it improves reliability for customers,” said Michael Sullivan, vice president of Transmission and Distribution for PSEG Long Island. “By partnering in our efforts to protect the osprey, both PSEG Long Island and Group for the East End are able to accomplish much more than we could separately. With the Group’s pole survey data, PSEG Long Island can be more proactive and less disruptive about relocating nests — taking care of more potential problem spots during the offseason when the osprey are wintering elsewhere.”

In Riverhead, Group staff and volunteers monitored 25 potential nesting sites, 19 of which showed activity, producing 29 fledglings. West of the canal in Southampton, 49 sites were monitored, 38 of which were active, producing 49 fledglings. East of the canal in Southampton, 105 sites were monitored, 74 of which were active, producing 90 fledglings. In East Hampton, 63 sites were monitored, 49 of which were active, producing 84 fledglings. In Southold, 183 sites were monitored, 136 of which were active, producing 193 fledglings. On Shelter Island, 52 sites were monitored, 37 of which were active, producing 60 fledglings.

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at beth@peconicbathtub.com

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