Bald eagles aren’t the only fish-loving raptors roaming the Iowa skies. Thanks to a successful reintroduction program initiated in 1997 by the Iowa Raptor Project (formerly the Macbride Raptor Center) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the osprey is back and looking for nesting grounds. This Saturday, June 4 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. the Iowa Raptor Project is hosting a Family Day event that will spotlight this incredible bird. Additional information is available at Facebook event site.
One of the larger North-American raptors, the osprey is unique for its exclusive diet of fish, as well as its method for catching them: diving talons first into the water and taking off again with a heavy fish in tow. Ospreys have a wide range, appearing on all continents except Antarctica. And they’ve been around a while—13 millions years! But prior to the reintroduction program, no nests had been seen in Iowa since European settlers arrived. Now, nests are popping up across the state, like the one in the Wells Fargo parking lot in West Des Moines, which you can watch live on the Osprey Cam.
According to the Iowa DNR’s latest counts, there are more than 25 nesting pairs statewide.
“It takes a long time to grow osprey numbers,” said Pat Schlarbaum, of the Iowa DNR in a news release. “We strive for having a minimum of three nest pairs to sustain a population; five pairs to make it secure. We have six pairs in the Des Moines metro area so things are looking up.”
June Family Day at the Iowa Raptor Project will feature successful osprey reintroduction stories and related arts and crafts. Staff and volunteers will be available to help with activities and answer any questions for curious minds. The Iowa Raptor Center is located at Macbride Nature Recreation Area, 2095 Mehaffey Bridge Rd NE, Solon, Iowa.