In the Field: Osprey Banding

 by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator

Last week I was extremely fortunate to be invited to help the DNR band osprey near the Kellogg Biological Station on Crooked Lake. It was an incredible experience and it is amazing how far these special birds have come over the past couple decades. Their numbers sharply declined after the introduction of DDT. Even now, these pesticides threaten them as they are not regulated in South America where these birds winter.


Osprey are community birds, and enjoy nesting near each other. They are non aggressive, and help each other with their young. When we were arriving at the nest, a pair of adult osprey were flying around but never being aggressive towards us. After several minutes, another pair of osprey came, circling around from a distance with the other two birds.


The banding process is quite simple. We took a boat to the nest, the adults left and we were able to climb up a ladder to check on the nest. We went up the ladder, collected a bird (they have not yet learned to fly), and carefully brought it down to the boat. Once in the boat, their blood was drawn and they were banded with a color tag to document which year they got their tag, and a number tag that uniquely identifies that individual. Once the samples were taken and bands planted, the bird was taken back up to the next. There were three birds in this particular nest we were able to band.


To ensure the birds were not getting over stressed or heated, along with two DNR biologists, a vet from the Binder Park Zoo was there to monitor their status. All three of the birds looked great, and handled the interaction very well. Each bird was handled for less than ten minutes, and stayed very calm.

To learn more about osprey, or to report a sighting, visit

1 Comment

  1. Philip Willemstein on June 3, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    Just reported seeing birds in Newago County. I have been watching this nest for a few weeks now as I want pictures of young, I will be watching now at least twice a week now. I was told that Newago Count has two other nest sights but am not sure where. I hav e pictures of the two birds that have the bands. One with a blue and the other with a silver. The female does not leave the nest so do not know if she has a band. I can sent pictures of those two birds if wanted.

    Thank, Phil

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