Ospreys nesting on Chemung River in Elmira


A second pair of ospreys are nesting on the Chemung River in Elmira.

The mom and dad ospreys (AKA fish hawks) built a stick nest on a 30-foot-tall osprey nesting pole on the south end of an island in the river, adjacent to the Dunn Field baseball stadium on Elmira’s Southside. The birds have been there for at least a few weeks, with mom sitting on and incubating an unknown number of eggs.

“Ospreys are choosy in where they nest, because they spend their lives there,” said Chemung River Friends Executive Director Jim Pfiffer. “They want a location where there is plenty of fish, open space and free of human encroachment and development.”

Six years ago, the first pair of ospreys set up home on a nesting pole on Clinton Island in the river in downtown Elmira. The nest can best be viewed from the back porch of the Finger Lakes House, 389 W. Water St.

“Unlike most other wildlife, ospreys live their life in the open,” Pfiffer said. “You can watch them build the nest, mate, catch fish, raise young and teach the nestlings how to fly and fish.”

The new nesting pair near Dunn Field is likely the offspring of the Clinton Island parents.

The Dunn Field osprey nesting pole was erected in 2015. The Clinton Island nesting pole was erected in 2003, but no ospreys nested on it until six years ago.

River Friends and Boy Scout Eagle Scouts partnered to put osprey nesting poles at Bottcher’s Landing on the Chemung River in Big Flats and in the marsh near Wygant Road in Horseheads. Both of those sites remain vacant.

River Friends is working with the Sportsmen’s Federation of Chemung County to install an osprey nesting pole near the Park Station lake in Erin.

“We have the basis for a solid growing population of ospreys in Elmira and Chemung County,” said Bill Ostrander, president of the Chemung Valley Audubon Society. “It’s a good sign that the river can support two families a short distance apart (less than a mile).”

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