After 150 years or more, ospreys may successfully nest south of
the Twin Cities.
Last spring, an osprey pair attempted to nest in Le Sueur County
on a power pole adjacent to fish rearing ponds at the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) fisheries facility at Waterville. This is
the first documented case of an active osprey nest in southern
Minnesota in modern times, although there have been several
“Even though this pair was not able to hatch any chicks, we’re
keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll return next spring and
bring off a hatch,” said Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, Southern Region DNR
Nongame Wildlife specialist at New Ulm. “We think there is a
reasonable chance that could happen, which would be great
Ospreys are making a comeback in the state. A 2004 DNR flight
survey found 577 Minnesota osprey territories, with an estimated
population of 1,200 birds. While the DNR has not done an osprey
flight survey since then, it is estimated that the statewide
population may be more than 2,000 birds by the end of the 2009
For a bird that had nearly disappeared as a breeding species in
Minnesota by the mid-20th century, the osprey has been an
impressive comeback story. Loss of habitat, shooting and pesticides
were major factors attributing to the population nosedive.
The osprey recovery, Gelvin-Innvaer said, is due in part to the
citizens, businesses, wildlife and fisheries professionals, and
various organizations that have been eager to lend a helping hand
to these majestic birds of prey. Perhaps most notably, Three Rivers
Park District (formerly Hennepin Parks) began an osprey
reintroduction program in 1984.
Since then, more than 90 nest platforms have been erected in the
Twin Cities metro area and nearly 700 chicks have fledged.
Platforms have been constructed on power poles and other tall
structures, such as business buildings
The osprey joins the trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon, eagle and
others on an impressive list of nongame wildlife species that have
enjoyed similar recent success stories in Minnesota, supported in
part by Minnesota taxpayers who donate to the DNR Nongame Wildlife
Minnesota citizens are critical to the Nongame Program. Not only
are they a vital funding source – 80 percent of the program is
funded by donations – but they also volunteer to help. Citizens
play an important role in activities such as wildlife field surveys
and observation reports.
Citizens interested in donating should advise their tax preparer
to include the tax-deductible amount in the loon donation box.
Interested donors can also visit the Nongame Program link on the
DNR Web site to make an online
donation at any time.