An osprey couple prepares their nest in Cutchogue. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

After a long and often perilous journey from their winter residences in South America, the osprey have returned to the North Fork.

Osprey, also known as fish hawks, winter in the warm climates of the southern hemisphere, then migrate thousands of miles north for the summer. Along the way they encounter danger from storms, predators and exhaustion. They are sometimes shot when trying to catch their dinner at fish farms.

As you drive around the North Fork you will find osprey couples readying their nests for spring breeding, working together to build their summer homes using twigs, grasses and branches.

Osprey populations were nearly wiped out by the 1970s due to poisoning from DDT, a widely used pesticide. After DDT was banned in 1972, the population rebounded and now osprey can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Note: These photos were taken with a telephoto lens from a considerable distance. During breeding season, osprey nests should never be approached, as perceived danger will make a mother bird fly away from the nest, endangering her eggs or babies. If you hear a rapid, high-pitched chirp as you approach a nest, you’re too close.

Photo: Katharine Schroeder

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