Photos by Chuck Nadeau

The dad osprey guards the nest.

A nest perched on the top of a light fixture over Eldredge Field has been a focus of interest for the past couple of months. Some thought the birds might be peregrine falcons. Some (ok, maybe us) wanted them to be eagles, as in the “Eldredge Eagle,” the school mascot. But according to the Dept. of Environmental Management’s wildlife division, it turns out to be a family of osprey up there – a dad, a mom, and two little ones. 

The location makes sense. Ospreys are known as the “fish hawk” because their diet consists primarily of fish. And osprey are not an uncommon sight down on Greenwich Cove. There used to be what DEM calls a “substantial population” of osprey in Rhode Island but use of the DDT and similar pesticides decimated them. In 1967, there were only two osprey nests in the state. Since the early 1970s, DEM has worked to restore osprey habitat and create nesting areas. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island now monitors the roughly 150 osprey nests throughout the state, including the one at Eldredge Field. 

Cool facts about osprey:

  • They mate for life
  • They migrate to their breeding grounds between March and April, and stay until August
  • The female usually lays an average of three eggs and does the majority of the “incubating” while the male is primarily responsible for providing food
  • The eggs hatch in late May and the young osprey feldge after about 50 days but they continue to dependon their parents for another couple months
  • Osprey often return to the same nest each year. The nest, liined with algae, bark, grass and sometimes plastic, can grow over time and might end up weighing several hundred pounds

Find more information about ospreys: Osprey Fact Sheet .


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