Spring is officially here, and along with warmer temperatures and longer daylight, the Bay happily welcomes its ospreys back home. From Essex, Baltimore County to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, the birds are back.
The Chesapeake Bay Program estimates nearly one quarter of United States ospreys make their nests on the Bay—as many as 10,000 breeding pairs of ospreys, who typically return in March and remain until late summer.
For the first time ever, southern Maryland is hosting a Maryland Osprey and Nature Festival to help celebrate these hardy birds. A key component of the festival is education. The family-friendly event will have plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn about Maryland’s seafood-hunting raptors through events like bird walks led by Audubon guides, lectures from wildlife experts, raptor demonstrations, and the chance to see the birds up close.
This kind of interactive public outreach is the driving force behind the festival, which was conceived as a response to the public outrage that reverberated through southern Maryland last summer when two osprey chicks were removed from a Lusby park and subsequently euthanized, as Bay Bulletin reported.
Sal Icaza, Chairman and CEO of the festival, shares, “The amazing rebound of ospreys has exceeded the availability of natural nesting sites. Human-made nesting structures are rarely unoccupied, and ospreys are now nesting on cell towers and lighting structures. This can create conflicts with human values and needs; thus the Maryland Osprey and Nature Festival was hatched.” He adds, “We appreciate the outpouring of support that we’ve received from our community and throughout the state, especially this inaugural year. I am pleased to be part of this grassroots movement that has gained momentum for all the right reasons.”
The overarching mission of the Osprey Festival, which is anticipated to become an annual event, is to provide educational resources to individuals and agencies in order to foster an attitude of co-existence and conservation in Calvert County in particular and the Bay area in general.
The inaugural Maryland Osprey and Nature Festival will be held on Saturday, April 2 at the Drum Point Club in Lusby from 11-4 pm. Admission is $5 for individuals or $10 per family. Proceeds from the festival will be donated to Owl Moon Raptor Center, a nonprofit facility in Montgomery County that specializes in the rehabilitation and release of injured birds of prey.
“If you love birds and nature, or just want to learn more about wildlife, join us on April 2. It should be a great event, and it is for a great cause,” says Icaza. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather.”
Live music will be provided by local favorite Deanna Dove and food will be available for purchase from Grizzly Mountain Grill’s food truck. Parking at Drum Point will be limited, with overflow parking and courtesy shuttles provided at Patuxent High School. For more information, visit marylandospreyfestival.org.
-Molly Weeks Crumbley