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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Fish & Wildlife : Volunteers : Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program

Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program


 Osprey - Chuck Fullmer
Adult Osprey - photo by Chuck Fullmer

Why monitor osprey?

Delaware's osprey monitoring population is one of the greatest conservation success stories in Delaware. From the days of DDT and the collapse of many raptor populations, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, ospreys in Delaware have rebounded and the population continues to grow and expand state-wide. Now a common bird during the summer months, this species can serve as an important environmental indicator and provide some insight into issues that may affect it and other coastal birds. But, in order to keep tabs on the osprey populations, the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife needs assistance from dedicated volunteers. Currently, Fish & Wildlife staff do not have the capacity to monitor osprey nests throughout the nesting season. The Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program provides volunteers with the opportunity to continue to collect important information by monitoring osprey platforms and nests near their home or workplace.

In 2016, the program has taken another step to increase the effectiveness of the program. Volunteers will now provide osprey nest observations to the OspreyWatch online reporting application hosted by the Center for Conservation Biology at By participating in OspreyWatch, Delaware can not only keep track of resident osprey but also contribute to a broader regional effort to monitor this species! The data for Delaware will continue to be analyzed by Species Conservation & Research Program staff to improve our understanding of osprey arrival dates, nest success and other aspects of osprey biology in the state.

Information will also continue to support conservation decisions for osprey and assist the state in identifying any new or emerging issues that could affect both ospreys and people. Data gathered about this majestic bird can serve as indicators of environmental health. Because ospreys are high on the food chain and eat foods - primarily fish - that accumulate toxins, their status can foretell problems that also may affect humans. Ospreys also rely mostly on coastal habitats and may be affected by climate change and seal levell rise.

  A brief history of Delaware's Osprey Monitoring Program

What do volunteers do?
The Division of Fish & Wildlife continues to seek volunteers to help monitor osprey nests throughout Delaware. Following training, participants will visit the OspreyWatch website to select a nest to monitor. Volunteers are asked to visit their nest(s) at least once every other week from March until the ospreys leave in late summer for their annual migration to South America. Participants will enter their data directly to the OspreyWatch website and will be able to see how their contributions play a role in osprey conservation!

 Juvenile Osprey
Osprey Fledgling - photo by Holly Niederriter

Volunteers will need to have access to email and the internet to report their findings and to receive updates on what's happening with other nests around the state. Please note that this project will not involve the repair or construction of nesting platforms. Volunteers should also be aware that nests are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis and that more than one person may monitor the same nest. If you would like your own nest, we recommend coordinating with us to find one that is currently not being monitored.

Is there training for volunteers?
Yes. Volunteers will receive training and will be given an information package including data sheets, volunteer timesheets and other useful information.

To Volunteer
To view upcoming volunteer training workshops, visit Fish & Wildlife's volunteer Calendar of Events. To register for an osprey workshop or to learn more about the Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program, contact Vickie Henderson at 302-735-8651 or

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