Record number of breeding ospreys recorded in Abu Dhabi

Survey by emirate's environment agency logs 127 pairs in more than 40 coastal and island locations

Osprey chicks in the nest. Locally known as dammi, the fish-eating raptors breed in the UAE from December to March. Photo: Wam
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The largest recorded number of ospreys in the Arabian Gulf region are breeding in Abu Dhabi, a study by the emirate's environment agency has found.

Researchers recorded 127 pairs of the fish-eating birds of prey at more than 40 coastal and island locations in the emirate, in the most comprehensive study of the species conducted in the UAE, state news agency Wam reported.

To support the osprey population, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has provided artificial nesting platforms at a number of sites, including islands connected to the mainland, to protect them from predators and human interference.

“The agency has taken measures to monitor and protect this important species, including providing artificial nesting platforms that have been placed in more than 25 locations,” said Ahmed Al Hashemi, executive director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.

“These have proven to be a very effective tool in providing breeding opportunities. We are taking actions as outlined in the action plan for the species which has been classified as Endangered in the Abu Dhabi Red List of Species.

“The comprehensive survey and regular monitoring of the breeding population will provide the agency with the information on the osprey to assess trends in numbers and enhance efforts to protect and preserve the birds.”

Local to the UAE

The western osprey subspecies – known locally as dammi – is native to the UAE. As the bird feeds almost exclusively on fish, it is found near marine habitats and around waterways.

Ospreys breed in the UAE from December to March, and in the Emirates often nest on rocky outcrops, abandoned structures or any raised platform large enough to accommodate them.

They can nest on very tall structures, as one of the highest nests was recorded at a height of about 60 metres on a communications tower.

The survey also recorded an osprey nest in a tree – which is unusual in the UAE.

Ospreys often return to the same breeding site each year.

Updated: October 27, 2023, 5:57 PM