People who want to watch birds — and keep tabs on the health of the environment — can do both by volunteering with OspreyWatch.

The program, created by the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary, is building a global network of people to observe the birds, sometimes known as fish hawks, which nest along waterways around much of the world.

Osprey feed almost exclusively on live fish, making them good indicators of environmental impacts such as overfishing and contaminants.

The overarching goal of the program is to enlist observers worldwide to gather enough data over time to monitor changes in aquatic health.

OspreyWatch, launched last year, had 800 observers that reported observations on 1,600 nests in five countries.

The program is intended to be global in scope, but the initial emphasis has been on expanding the network of observers around the Bay, which has one of the largest — and most observable — osprey populations in the world.

The birds, which can have wingspans of more than 5 feet, are found on all continents except Antarctica.

Populations generally nest in the Northern Hemisphere but winter in souther latitudes, making them effective links between the aquatic health of distant regions. Their breeding season in the North is also very seasonal sensitive, making them an effective barometer of climate change.

OspreyWatch allows observers across the globe to map local nests, log observations, upload photos and interact within an observer forum.

To participate in the program, visit www.osprey-watch.org

Watch osprey online

People who live nowhere near the water can now get a "live" glimpse of an osprey by going no further than their computer. Thanks in part to support from the Shared Earth Foundation, the Chesapeake Conservancy has launched a new webcam to track an osprey nest

located at the southern end of Kent Island. The cam broadcasts a streaming, real-time view of activity on the nest. 

View the osprey cam at: www.ospreycamera.org.