MISSOULA – Some Missoulians had the chance on Thursday to see some of western Montana’s beloved osprey up close — while also learning about them.
Children and adults alike were able to get an up close view of the area’s favorite bird while researchers banded them to track their health — as well as that of river ecosystems — thanks to the Montana Osprey Project.
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“We can basically map the mercury and other heavy metal loads in the aquatic system by using osprey nests which…nest pretty frequently across the river. “So, we can almost use them as a localized sample of how the contaminants in the river are there,” explained Adam Shreading, a wildlife biologist with the Raptor View Institute.
While researchers banded the birds, they also showed onlookers their process — and how safe it is. The event was also an opportunity for the public to see the bird of prey up close.
“Part of banding these guys we are doing it all through the watershed from Butte to Missoula and we try to have an educational component,” said Dalit Guscio with the Montana Osprey Project.
“So once a season we have a community event which is today where we invite anyone in the community to come and see what we do and ask questions about osprey and the watershed,” she added.
Educating the public on ospreys and how researchers monitor them is the main goal of the program in the hopes that people will use that knowledge to help protect osprey in their community.
“So they see what we do they see we touch the chicks they see its pretty laid back and you know not stressful they see that we handle them well and we care and then questions start popping up,” Guscio told MTN News.
“How do these birds live their life? How are they using the world that I live in? What problems are they facing that I can help fix?” Shreading said. “You know I think it’s awesome to get to do that with so many little guys.”
Thursday’s event was put together by the Montana Osprey Project which is a long term study of the bird in Montana’s Upper Clark Clark Fork and its tributaries.