The Bay’s Ospreys are in Trouble

The Bay’s Ospreys are in Trouble

What’s Happening? 

Ospreys in the Chesapeake Bay are producing only a fraction of the young needed to sustain their population. Bryan Watts, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary will present his research findings on why osprey nest site numbers are so troubling.

What’s being done? Conservationists are taking up the fight to protect ospreys. David Reed, executive director of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance will introduce Bill McKeever’s short film “The Biggest Little Fish You’ve Never Seen” about menhaden, a principal food source for osprey, and guide a discussion on how the Chesapeake Legal Alliance and others are taking action. USGS researcher Barnett Ratner and naturalist Greg Kearns will discuss their findings on recent osprey nest success in the Patuxent and Choptank rivers. 

The restoration of osprey in Chesapeake Bay has been regarded as one of the great conservation successes in America and it is now very much at risk. Come learn why and what can be done.

Tickets required. Due to the limited seating, reservations will be required.  More info and background about the program and speakers including a link to reserve tickets can be found on the Friends website at: Donations accepted

This program is hosted by the Friends of Patuxent Research Refuge in cooperation with the Maryland Ornithological Society. For more information and background on the presenters and program content, or if you have any questions, visit:  

The Bay’s Ospreys are in Trouble

By Rich Dolesh 

Friends of Patuxent Research Refuge

To most of us, the status of the osprey is a conservation success story since the dark DDT days of the last century.  Therefore I was surprised to learn that the osprey population is in trouble in parts of the Chesapeake Bay. These ospreys are producing far too few nestlings to sustain their numbers. Recent research by Bryan Watts of William and Mary’s Center for Conservation Biology indicates that a major cause is the industrial fishing of menhaden, a key food source for these birds. 

What can be done to reverse this alarming turn of events? The Chesapeake Legal Alliance has  filed a petition to challenge the Virginia Marine Resource Commission’s decision to continue to permit the overfishing of menhaden.

The Friends of the Patuxent Research Refuge (FOP) are putting on a program on these inter-related topics on June 22 at the National Wildlife Visitor Center (Patuxent Research Refuge) from 1.30 to 3.30 pm. Dr. Watts will present his research findings on the troubling decline in the Bay’s osprey numbers.  There will also be a short film on the menhaden; “The Biggest Little Fish You’ve Never Seen.” The film is by William McKeever and it will be introduced by David Reed, CLA’s Executive Director. Dr. Reed will also describe the CLA’s efforts to require VMRC to regulate and protect the menhaden fishery.

Tickets are required and can be obtained at:

FOP expects this event to attract a lot of attendees, so you should go ahead and get your tickets without delay.

A Special Event by the Friends of Patuxent Research Refuge:

Crisis in the Chesapeake Bay: Ospreys in Peril

Saturday, June 22, 2024, 1:30-3:30pm

At the National Wildlife Visitor Center, Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD