Become an Osprey Watcher: Connect with a Global Community of Observers

The Center for Conservation Biology launches OspreyWatch – an online citizen-science project

Hashtags: #birding #osprey

The Center for Conservation Biology – a partnership between researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and The College of William and Mary - has launched OspreyWatch, a user-friendly, internet platform that allows citizen scientists to collect data on breeding osprey. 

This community, linked by an interest in osprey and a concern for the health of the aquatic environments on which they rely, will for the first time provide a global perspective on this charismatic species. 

The OspreyWatch internet platform allows observers across the globe to map osprey nests, log observations, upload photos, and interact within an observer forum. Information entered into the platform will be immediately accessible to users and will be summarized following the breeding season. OspreyWatch brings together citizen scientists to collect information on a large enough spatial scale to be useful in addressing the most pressing issues facing aquatic ecosystems including global climate change, depletion of fish stocks, and environmental contaminants. 

Osprey are one of very few truly global sentinels for aquatic health. They feed almost exclusively on live fish throughout their entire life cycle. They are a top consumer within aquatic ecosystems and are very sensitive to both overfishing and environmental contaminants. Nearly all populations breed in the northern latitudes and winter in the southern latitudes, effectively linking the aquatic health of the hemispheres. Their breeding season in the north is highly seasonal making them an effective barometer of climate change.

To become an Osprey Watcher, visit

The primary focus of the Center for Conservation Biology is to conduct research that solves conservation problems.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see

Seven-week old osprey chick. Photo courtesy of Bryan Watts, Ph.D./CCB.
Seven-week old osprey chick. Photo courtesy of Bryan Watts, Ph.D./CCB.