From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

Osprey Nest Survey

This year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is conducting a statewide survey of osprey nests. The osprey is one of Pennsylvania’s most popular raptors. Like the bald eagle, it is a charismatic bird of conservation concern that is strongly associated with aquatic habitats. Yet often it is found near humans. Unique in appearance, it is truly the “people’s fish hawk.”


Osprey Nest Photo by Joe Kosack

If you know the location of a pair of nesting ospreys, please contact us. The osprey population has grown steadily since its reintroduction in the 1980s. Although the Game Commission has located more than 100 nests in recent years, some nests have been overlooked. That is why we need your assistance. The osprey nest survey is an initiative that would not be possible without the help of volunteers. More information about the survey can be found on the Game Commission’s website.  Just download the Osprey Nest Survey Form along with the Nest Observation Protocol, and submit it to

We would appreciate your reports of active osprey nests by July 31. A statewide osprey survey was completed in 2010 and at least 115 nests were found. Since then, ospreys have continued to expand into new areas. We would like to learn of these new nests. Please do not assume that a nest location you know has been covered by somebody else. The coordinates of the nest support structure are important to include as well. Use online mapping programs to find the coordinates.


Distribution of Pennsylvania osprey nests and associated secondary drainages. Nests active in 2014, x, or active at least one year since 1990, +, Hydrologic unit boundaries (HUC6), yellow lines. County boundaries, black lines. -By Patti Barber

Your osprey nest data will be used to update the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program database and also enable us to better understand the status of this state-threatened species and its management potential. We intend to find at least 10 active nesting pairs in at least four different watershed clusters. That is a modest goal that we are confident that we can achieve with your assistance. Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us with this important survey.

By: Doug Gross, Pennsylvania Game Commission Ornithologist, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Diversity team

For more information on ospreys read the comprehensive description, recovery and management plan and a recent Pennsylvania eBird article.


Bald Eagle Nest Etiquette


Photo: Hal Korber

There are few sights more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline. Responsibilities come with this enjoyment. As you enjoy eagles, you must ensure your presence and behavior do not have a detrimental effect on the eagles or their future use of the area.

Eagle nests and young eagles are easily disturbed. By causing a premature fledging, you can inadvertently cause injury or death of an eaglet that can not yet fly or defend itself. In the cold winter, energy is a very valuable commodity for eagles. Flushing eagles from a roost site or a feeding ground causes unnecessary stress and may expose the eagle to additional predators.

So please keep your distance from eagle nests and roosts. Respect their space. Enjoy their presence at a distance with good optics. Please consider the following general etiquette guidelines for avoiding eagle disturbances:

Stay Back- Keep at least 1,000 feet from an active nest, roost, or feeding area. Use optics like binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles at a distance.

Remain Quiet- If you must talk, whisper.

Cover Up- Use your vehicle or boat as a blind; eagles often are more alarmed by pedestrians.

Avoid Sudden Movements – Do not move quickly or toward the eagles or the nest while on foot or in a vehicle or boat.

Do Not Try to Make the Birds Fly-Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather or a nest predator. It also wastes precious energy and may cause them to leave a valuable meal behind or abandon a nest that they are constructing.

Pay attention-Watch how the eagle reacts to your presence – if it acts agitated, vocalizes repeatedly, or starts moving away, you are too close.

Stay out-Respect restricted zones. They protect eagle nesting areas. And you are breaking state and federal laws if you enter them.

Respect the Privacy of the Landowner-Do not tell everyone about a new eagle nest. It will attract people to nesting areas who may not use proper etiquette and bring other unnecessary attention to a nest. If you unexpectedly stumble onto an eagle nest, or hear an eagle vocalizing overhead, leave immediately and quietly.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.