Restoration efforts led by The Nongame Wildlife Program, Three Rivers Park District and other conservation partners have paid off for the osprey. More than 100 osprey chicks have been released in the Twin Cities area, resulting in the establishment of 41 osprey nests by 2004. A recent statewide survey by the Nongame Wildlife Program revealed 608 active osprey nests in thirty counties. Ospreys are expanding their nesting range into west central Minnesota and metro counties.
The Common Loon
Minnesotans love the loon. The haunting call of our state bird is a comforting sound of home. Minnesota now has more nesting loons than any of the continental states, but it takes a lot of effort to keep them here. DNR Nongame Wildlife works with citizens to monitor loon populations and their reproduction rates. Loons are the watchdogs of our water quality, so when we protect the loons, we are also protecting our precious 10,000 lakes.
Peregrine falcons began nesting in Minnesota in 1987 when a pair raised one young at the Multifoods building in Minneapolis. Last year 52 pairs successfully raised 94 young - testimony to their adaptability and to the Nongame Wildlife Program restoration efforts. Indeed a bright spot among Minnesota's environmental challenges.
At the turn of the last century, the majestic trumpeter swan was missing from the Minnesota landscape. The Minnesota flock now consists of more than 2000 trumpeter swans. This year more than 500 young were hatched. In 1998, a pair of swans nested in southern Minnesota, a first since the 1880s. This is truly an exciting success, because the loss of habitat and other factors often prevent the restoration of a rare species.
Bluebirds declined dramatically during the past century due to loss of habitat and nest site competition from house sparrows and European starlings. The DNR Nongame Wildlife Program partnered with the Bluebird Recovery Program of the Minneapolis Chapter of National Audubon to sponsor workshops, publish education materials and promote the placement of bluebird houses to bring back this desirable songbird. Restoration efforts paid off, Minnesota now has one of the most successful bluebird recovery projects in the nation.
The bald eagle population continues to amaze both casual birdwatchers and professional biologists with their phenomenal recovery from once alarmingly low numbers. Bald eagle populations have increased from 181 active nesting territories in 1980 to more than 2300 nesting pairs today! This places Minnesota second only to Alaska in number of eagles. In the Twin City area alone, you may catch a glimpse of more than 6 dozen pairs soaring through the skies, or nesting in tall tree tops.