OAK HARBOR -- A wildlife refuge in northwestern Ohio is reporting the first osprey chicks hatched at the refuge along the shore of Lake Erie.
The parents are two ospreys that showed up earlier this year, officials at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge told the Port Clinton News Herald.
A refuge volunteer estimates the three chicks hatched within a few days of each other about three weeks ago at the refuge's Blausey Unit, said Eddy Pausch, assistant refuge manager at Ottawa National. The osprey parents showed up after staff members installed a nesting platform at the unit, which is closed to the public.
"We're very excited about it," Pausch said. "It's neat. We're just happy to have a new species breeding on the refuge."
Pausch says the chicks likely will begin flying in another three weeks. The migratory birds are expected to fly south for the winter in a few months.
"Hopefully, they'll come back next year," Pausch said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no plans to band the chicks, but Pausch is planning to check with Ohio officials to see if they want to tag them. One of the parents has a tag, but Pausch says staff members have not been able to read it to identify the bird,
Ospreys traditionally haven't lived at the refuge or in other parts of Ottawa County because bald eagles tend to dominate the Lake Erie marshes.
The two species don't always get along and often compete for nest sites and other territory. But they do live successfully near each other in other parts of the country, according to Pausch.
He says staff members are considering setting up additional osprey nesting platforms on other refuge land, including one that could be seen from an auto tour and another at Darby Marsh, west of Port Clinton.
"We could get a little population going up here," Pausch said.
Ospreys eat only fish and are sometimes called fish hawks. They are smaller than bald eagles, but are also raptors that catch prey in razor-sharp talons.