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Ospreys: A Conservation Success Story

How to Construct Your Own Artificial Osprey Nest

Ospreys at BlackwaterOspreys at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the era of Facebook, 4G and Netflix, it’s easy to forget that nature provides plenty entertainment on its own, without the assistance of cords or batteries. Bird-watching is one of the easiest ways to observe nature in action, and you don’t even need to leave your backyard. Set up a nest—specifically, an osprey nest.

The construction of artificial osprey nests, combined with the 1972 banning of the pesticide DDT, contributed to the restoration of this species after it experienced dangerous declines in the ’50s and ’60s. Today, constructing your own artificial osprey nest not only supports local populations but also offers you and your family an opportunity to observe and learn about these fascinating birds from the comfort of their own home.

To get started, you’ll need to choose a location. The closer it is to the water, the better. Plan on the platform being taller than any nearby trees. Ospreys usually begin building their nests in mid-March, so give yourself enough construction time to have it built and ready for residents by this time.

Construction Tips

Don’t forget to drill holes in the base of the platform—otherwise, rain will collect below the nest. If your platform is situated on land, you’ll need to build a predator guard to prevent ground predators like raccoons from raiding the nest. Ospreys look for nesting sites with nearby perches, so make sure to include a “perch pole” on one side—if not two sides—of the platform. Perhaps most importantly, make it sturdy. It should be able to hold up to 300 pounds and be at least 3 feet by 3 feet.

Need a blueprint for your artificial osprey nest? You can find one here. And in case you’re the type of person who can barely assemble an Ikea dresser, much less a bird’s nesting platform, we’ve got you covered: You can watch a live osprey cam here.


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