Letter: For osprey females, a near-motionless month begins


To the editor:

While daffodils burst into bloom and we rev up our lawnmowers, female osprey are hunkering down for five weeks of stillness.  For the next 35 days or more, each female has the important job of radiating her warmth to three or four eggs beneath her and simultaneously sheltering the eggs from rain, wind, parasites, and predators.

Every so often she will rise up to gently turn the eggs as needed, perform a brief personal grooming, and maybe take a spin around the marsh if her mate is willing to fill an incubation shift. If her mate is particularly inclined towards child care, she could even enjoy a meal out on her own. Most pairs adhere to a pretty conventional division of labor.  Success lies in the female’s determination to sit tight and the male’s determination to bring home as much fish as she will eat.

Mass Audubon’s team at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary keeps track of the breeding activity at nearly 90 nests in the Westport River/Allens Pond Important Bird Area. With the help of trained volunteers, who work both from roadside or shoreline vantage points as well as aboard the Osprey Project’s skiff, a comprehensive dataset is collected and shared with collaborating scientists.  Project sponsors play a critical role in supplying the funds for staff oversight, boat operation, and the equipment and materials. 

Those wishing to support the work in any way are invited to contact the team at allenspond@massaudubon.org.  To participate in an intensive, day-long dive into the lives of osprey, the sanctuary is offering an Adult Field School on June 24.  To register and learn more, go to: www.massaudubon.org/allenspond.

Jennifer Costa

Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary




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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.