I recently got a letter from the Michigan Nature Association that announced they have nesting ospreys at the Helmer Brook Plant PreserveOsprey Watch reports there are 17 active nests in lower Michigan this year.

The DNR has been releasing ospreys in the lower peninsula since 1998:

Ospreys are listed as a threatened species in the state. Along with bald eagles and peregrine falcons, they were hard hit by the liberal use of pesticides shortly after World War II. Unlike peregrines, Michigan never lost its entire osprey population; the species managed to persist in small numbers in the state. Since the ban of DDT and other similar persistent pesticides, they have rebounded in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.

Ospreys got a double whammy; in addition to the effects of organochlorines, they are also migratory, and lost habitat along their entire trip–North America, Central America, and South America.

I’ve mentioned before the important role of an MSU biologist in the collection of evidence of DDT Bioaccumulation.  (You can actually read an original article by Wallace in Audubon Magazine from 1963 here.)  Michigan is still home to the Pine River Superfund site–a toxic waste dump of DDT manufacturing leftovers, as well as other industrial waste.

So, I’m pretty geeked that there are some signs of recovery, however small.  You can help by reporting sightings in lower Michigan with this form
[Thank you to C. A. Mullhaupt
, who took this lovely photo of a nest in Michigan in 2008.]

Oh, and since every time I mention DDT a whole host of right-wing people show up to flog their political agenda:  save us all some time, and read these posts first, ‘kay?

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Ospreys are such beautiful birds. There were some nesting pairs at a river near where I grew up in Downeast Maine. Getting to see them fishing was always so cool.

  2. DNR needs to keep on on its own regulations: Osprey is now a species of special concern, downgraded on the latest list revision in April (http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/data/specialanimals.cfm#grp3).

  3. A couple of years ago there was a nesting pair on a buoy on Smith Mountain lake, Virginia. They seemed to tolerate the passing boats quite well as long as the boats were moving, but got a little upset when I stopped and tried to take a picture of them.

    I never did get a picture.

  4. Hey, cool, it’s great that the ospreys are back! Thanks for the DDT links. Way to be proactive about directive people to some useful information about the DDT issue.

  5. I’m used to seeing a lot of ospreys since I live near the coast. They’re really majestic birds. It’s good to see that they’re doing well in Michigan now.

  6. Both MNFI and DNR has been completely gutted with the recent budget cuts–I’m not surprised they aren’t up to date :(

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