Osprey Reintroduction Project - Overview

The osprey is one of the most widely distributed birds in the world. It is found on every continent except Antarctica; however, the population declined rapidly between 1950 and 1980. The causes were DDT use, loss of breeding Ospreyhabitat and poaching. The banning of DDT and initiation of state conservation programs have allowed the osprey to make a comeback throughout the United States. In Indiana, the osprey is on the state endangered species list.

From 1930 to 1975, osprey nesting was only noted in four counties in Indiana: Morgan, Parke, Porter and Posey. At the beginning of the 21st century, osprey populations in the Midwest had been growing slowly but nests were widely scattered. Reintroductions enhanced local and regional populations. From 2003 to 2006, Wildlife Diversity staff obtained 96 young ospreys from nests in coastal areas of Virginia and raised and released them at four locations in Indiana: Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area, Minnehaha Fish & Wildlife Area, Tri-County Fish & Wildlife Area, and Patoka Lake. Each site received eight birds in June of three consecutive years. Birds were held for one to five weeks and released from mid-June to mid-July. Locally obtained fish (primarily gizzard shad, carp, white sucker and yellow perch) were provided at release sites as late as early September. As a result of this effort and the erection of nesting platforms in a partnership between the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and private groups and individuals, Indiana’s osprey population has shown steady growth.

Osprey Nesting in Indiana

Year Number of Nests
1990-2000 1 annually
2001 2
2002 4
2003 5
2004 8
2005 11
2006 12
2007 16
2008 24
2009 31
2010 35
2011 37
2012

49

2013

57

2014

68

2015

69

2016

64

2017

36*

* 2017 had fewer reports of osprey nests than any other year.  Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife relies on public reporting of nest activity. Indiana DFW encourages the public to be an active conservation partner and report osprey nest locations and provide updates on breeding activity such as nest building, incubation, food deliveries and begging chicks. These reports can be sent to agillet@dnr.IN.gov.

Chronology of Osprey Efforts in Indiana