submitted by Kathryn Brintnall, President, The International Osprey Foundation
The arrival of Hurricane Ian on our shores changed life as we know it on our islands for the foreseeable future. No one who has watched the news coverage of this event on TV, driven on our streets lined with debris or tried to walk the shores of our island communities will ever be the same after this.
Unfortunately, this storm did not just happen to us. The wildlife displacement and environmental destruction of their habitats has been monumental. This has been especially true for Ospreys, our neighbors who nest on our highest trees, snags and nesting platforms.
Southwest Florida, especially the island communities are some of the most significant osprey nesting areas in the western hemisphere. Florida native ospreys, as well as a large migrating population of these fish-eating raptors, make their homes on our islands each spring. Ospreys come back to the same nests every year. The birds are starting to return, but many will find no place to come home to.
The International Osprey Foundation, whose monitors record nesting data for over 150-plus nests in our local area, is concerned most Osprey homes have been destroyed and the birds will now be nesting anywhere they can, returning to inappropriate spots atop power lines and chimney tops and possibly increasing human/osprey conflict at an already stressful time for everyone.
On behalf of the ospreys, for whom TIOF is their voice, we would like to ask everyone within the reach of this publication to let us know about the condition of osprey nests near you. TIOF needs to have information from the public about nesting sites, platforms and tree nests, in your neighborhoods as soon as possible, especially those that have been successful in the past. TIOF wants to know the exact location (street address or intersection) or GPS coordinates (obtainable with cell phone map apps). A description of the damage and a picture if possible would be great.
There is a link to an “easy-to-fill-out” form on TIOF’s website and click on REPORT DAMAGED PLATFORMS. That information could then be emailed to us at TIOF@outlook.com. This would greatly reduce the time it would take TIOF monitors to survey all of the 150-plus nests on Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers Beach, Pind Island, Fort Myers and Cape Coral. TIOF may not get to replace every nest Hurricane Ian took in his wake, but with your help, we will have a place to start. Please help The International Osprey Foundation to take care of one of our most important and influential neighbors, the Ospreys.