Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) eggs were exchanged between Connecticut and Maryland osprey nests in 1968 and 1969 to test the hypothesis that the decline in reproductive success of Connecticut ospreys was caused by something within the external environment of the eggs. Incubation of 30 Connecticut osprey eggs by Maryland ospreys did not improve the hatching rate. Forty-five Maryland osprey eggs incubated by Connecticut ospreys hatched at their normal rate. The results of the egg exchanges and associated observations indicated that the most probable cause of the poor reproduction of Connecticut ospreys ,was related to contamination of the birds and their eggs. Residues of DDT and its metabolites, dieldrin, and PCBs were generally higher in fish from Connecticut than from Maryland. During 1968-69, average residues (on a nest basis) in osprey eggs from Maryland were: p,p'-DDE, 2.4 ppm; dieldrin, 0.25 ppm; PCB, 2.6 ppm. Average residues in eggs from Connecticut for the same period were: p,p'DDE, 8.9 ppm; dieldrin, 0.61 ppm; PCB, 15 ppm. There were no major changes in residue content of Connecticut eggs collected in 1964 compared with those collected in 1968-B9. One Connecticut osprey had a concentration of dieldrin in its brain which was in the lethal range. The average shell thickness of recently collected osprey eggs from Connecticut had declined 18 percent, and those from Maryland had declined 10 percent from pre-1947 norms. Dieldrin, DDE, and PCB are three environmental pollutants that have most likely been important factors in the greatly reduced reproductive success and rapid population decline of Connecticut ospreys.
Additional publication details
Effects of environmental pollutants on Connecticut and Maryland ospreys