Conserve Wildlife Blog


November 30th, 2020

‘Tis the season for osprey nest platform repairs — and being thankful for the volunteers who make it happen!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors clean out nesting material from a 20-30 year old nest platform.

After migratory birds depart, leaves fall and northwest winds prevail, a small group of dedicated volunteers descend on our coastal saltmarshes. They’re there to maintain osprey nest platforms. Around 75% of our nesting ospreys rely on these wooden structures to reproduce. They were used to help jumpstart the early recovery efforts of ospreys in coastal New Jersey, where much of their native habitat was lost to development in the 1950-60s. Today many of these platforms are reaching their life span or are very close.

Over time, osprey nesting material, which consists of sticks, seaweed and grasses, add up and eventually break down, which adds a lot of weight on these platforms. The high weight can cause platforms to fail prematurely. Most hold up quite well — when built right, which is amazing to see. Some nests have been in place for 20-30 years and are still in decent shape. It’s amazing to see ones that are able to survive the harsh coastal environment. The moist, salt rich air causes hardware to corrode quickly and wet wood is susceptible to insect damage. Add some strong winds and these top heavy platforms can easily fall over or break apart.

To help prevent nests from failing, we are taking proactive measures to clean out excessive nesting material from platforms. This removes a lot of weight and stress to help ensure that they do not fall, especially when young are reliant on them. We now recommend cleaning out nests at least once every 3-5 years (more frequently if you can). Other nest maintenance includes replacing nestboxes or complete platforms, when needed.

It’s a lot of work to get this done during the non-breeding season, when working outside can be more challenging. We’re extremely grateful to have such great, dedicated volunteers who love to work outside, no matter the time of year or task at hand. We’re also very thankful for Woodhaven Lumber and Millwork for donating wood to help provide homes for our ospreys! Their collective contributions are vital to maintaining a robust osprey population in New Jersey!

Learn more about the New Jersey Osprey Project

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “#Thankful”

  1. What is the cost of replacing or adding an osprey nesting platform/poles?

  2. Ben says:

    Hi Maryann, Please reach out to me directly if you have questions related to replacing or adding an osprey nest platform. We already have a lot of information on our Osprey Project page, but I’d be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have. My email is