Pandion haliaetus


Priorities for Future Research

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(1) Satellite telemetry has opened a new window to understanding Osprey movements and migratory behavior, but it apparently comes with a significant cost of increased mortality for both adults and juveniles (ROB). Increased, judicious use of this technique would be a plus, especially in providing clearer delineation of habitat use and in examining movements of “resident” populations that may not undergo a traditional, long-distance migration. In addition, there has been no significant field study to date of North American Ospreys on their overwintering grounds; research on overwintering ecology in West Africa provides a model (Prevost 1982).

(2) Population dynamics of nonmigratory Ospreys have been little studied. Dispersal; survival; age at first breeding; breeding success—only the latter has been examined, and all undoubtedly differ from those of migratory populations.

(3) Contaminants monitoring continues to be important. Ospreys are now being considered as a sentinel species for the long-term monitoring of the health of large rivers, bays, and estuaries. This species has many characteristics that make it particularly appealing for this type of study, including: (a) diet—live fish caught relatively short distances from nest sites; (b) high fidelity to nest sites; (c) exposed nests that are readily detected and studied; (d) tolerance of short-term nest disturbance; (e) nesting at relatively even-spaced intervals along preferred habitat, as opposed to clumped distributions like colonial-nesting birds; and (f) known sensitivity to many contaminants (Grove et al. 2009).

(4) Nest-site competition should be studied, especially in colonies. How much time and energy goes into defending nests? When is competition most intense? To what extent do individuals retain nests year to year?

(5) The timing and dynamics of young birds establishing themselves into the breeding population is very poorly understood. Some hints are being revealed from birds outfitted with satellite telemetry transmitters as juveniles, but the mortality rate is so high during the first migration cycle that the data return on that investment is very low (Ospreytrax.com). A potentially more viable approach would be to tag Ospreys on the wintering grounds in July. Any Ospreys encountered then would be birds in their second calendar year that had survived the southbound migration and had located a productive and safe wintering location. They would be ready to migrate north in the next spring, after which the process by which they sought out breeding opportunities could be followed in fine detail. Mortality is very low on the spring migration (Ospreytrax.com), so the data return on the investment would be higher.

(6) More long-term studies with color-banded populations should be conducted. The only long-term study to date is Postupalsky 1989b. A study of this kind would be especially rewarding with a resident population.

Recommended Citation

Bierregaard, R. O., A. F. Poole, M. S. Martell, P. Pyle, and M. A. Patten (2016). Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.683