Rebounding osprey population evident in Shuswap

Growth attributed to nesting platforms and ban on the use of DDT

Nested around the shore of Shuswap Lake or in the city on top of hydro poles, osprey have been a common sight this summer in Salmon Arm.

Ed McDonald, the president of the Shuswap Naturalists, said he has seen the number of the birds swell in the Salmon Arm bay area.

Although osprey can be seen along the shores of many fish-bearing lakes and streams, this was not always the case.

McDonald said before the widely-used insecticide DDT was banned in the early 1970s, populations of osprey and other birds were under threat. The chemical thinned bird eggs, often killing the embryo inside and leading to a population crash of ospreys, eagles and other species.

Read More: Osprey nest in downtown Salmon Arm will remain until new year

Read More: Teamwork brings injured South Okanagan osprey back to its nest

Since the ban, osprey populations have been steadily rising. That growth trend became sharper when BC Hydro crews began installing nesting platforms and taking steps to stop the birds from being electrocuted in the 1990s. McDonald praised the work BC Hydro crews do to build the platforms either on or near the power poles when ospreys are seen trying to establish a nest in the area. He also noted that ospreys are sometimes killed by the power lines, including one during the Roots and Blues Festival.

McDonald said the nests on the man-made platforms are less likely to be tipped over by windstorms than those in trees, but he noted that one of osprey nests near his home in Sunnybrae is in a large mature fir tree.

Availability of prey is what draws the osprey to the Shuswap. McDonald said they feed on young trout and salmon, but more frequently on the invasive carp which moved into the Shuswap from the Okanagan in the 1920s.

The relatively slow-swimming carp are also a favoured prey for river otters which also have a healthy population in the Shuswap according to McDonald.

Read More: Drones reported to be disturbing bird sanctuary

Read More: Hydro crews in B.C. help move ospreys evicted from nest

McDonald said a strong osprey population along the shores of Shuswap Lake is unlikely to have a negative impact on other species. Ospreys live almost exclusively on fish, meaning they are not competing for prey with other birds, such as the short-eared owls that make their winter hunting grounds in the Salmon River delta targeting mice and voles. Eagle populations are also unlikely to be negatively affected as the larger birds, which are not as keen fishers, are sometimes seen stealing ospreys’ catches.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

COSAR and Kelowna RCMP rescue couple lost at James Lake

The rescue occurred Saturday, July 11

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Column: One parenting book certainly doesn’t fit all

Like the fingerprints they are born with – each child is different.… Continue reading

Influx of tourists helping to nurse Penticton’s economy back to health

The city has seen visitors multiply tenfold in recent weeks

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Most Read