Finnish Museum of Natural History

Finnish Satellite Ospreys

The satellite tracking of Finnish Ospreys organised by the Osprey Foundation started as if by accident in 2001. There had been requests from Portugal for Osprey fledglings from Finland to help a project to restore the extinct Osprey population, but first it was considered pertinent to find out, with the help of satellite transmitters, where Ospreys with a Finnish genetic background migrate when they leave the southwest corner of Europe. Since the Portuguese project did not have the resources for the monitoring, the director of the Osprey Foundation, Juhani Koivu, recommended Vattenfall Oy to back the project, and with its support, ten satellite transmitters were acquired.

When the transmitters had already been bought, Portugal suddenly had to give up its repopulation project. At that time, the Osprey Foundation decided to embark upon satellite tracking of Finnish Ospreys under the leadership of Professor Pertti Saurola, with the following main goals. (1) To form a more detailed overview of the schedules, migration routes, and wintering ranges of Finnish Ospreys, (2) to gain new information about the location and significance of resting and refuelling areas along the migration routes, (3) to find out the role of night migration especially in the risky crossings of the Mediterranean and Sahara, (4) to gain data on the impact of weather conditions and other environmental factors on the migration, and (5) to find out the size of fishing ranges both at the nests and in wintering ranges.

The progess and results of the satellite tracking has been presented to the general public from the start in cooperation with the Finnish Museum of Natural History on its website.

At first, the satellite project focused on gathering information about the migration ecology of Ospreys from Lapland, i.e. the northernmost Ospreys in the world. Later, the foundation has gathered reference material on Ospreys nesting hundreds of kilometres to the south, in Häme.

The Kainuu taskforce of the foundation started the satellite tracking of Ospreys from Kainuu in 2011, headed by Researcher Vesa Hyryläinen, and two years later, the satellite tracking of Satakunta Ospreys joined the team, organised by veteran Osprey ringer Raimo Uusitalo.

The transmitters used in satellite tracking, weighing around 30 grams and fastened as a ‘backpack’ on the Ospreys back with teflon cords, have developed during the years to produce ever more and more detailed information. Of the transmitters fitted during 2002-2003, not counting one transmitter that ran on solar panels, the others were battery-driven transmitters based on Doppler technology. In 2007-2008, the transmitters were GPS/Argos, and since 2011 they have been GSM/GPS transmitters with solar panels.

Kuva: Petteri Lehikoinen

Other satellite-tracked birds

More Information

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Text: Pertti Saurola, translation: Marina Kurtén, Web-management: Markus Piha