We spotted the first osprey this weekend, soaring high above our home and calling out in its distinctive cry. These birds are now abundant on Chappaquiddick, and it is hard to imagine a time when their numbers plummeted so low ornithologists feared they would go extinct.

Fifty years ago, the prevalent use of the pesticide DDT left ospreys, and other birds like the Peregrine Falcon and the Bald Eagle, unable to hatch eggs. Finally, in 1972, DDT usage was banned and the osprey populations began to slowly improve.

Humans have aided re-population efforts by constructing large nesting poles, several of which reside on Chappy: one at Chappy Point, one at Wasque, a few out at East Beach, and one up at Cape Pogue Bay. The males tend to be the gatherers of the nesting materials, while the females arrange the collected items into the nest. The nests are constructed of sticks and then lined with moss, algae, grasses, bark and discovered odds and ends. While a first-season nest will stay fairly small, measuring 2.5 feet across and three to six inches in depth, generations later the nest can grow to be large enough to fit a human: 13 feet deep, and six feet in diameter.

Interestingly, osprey are the only hawks in North America whose diet is almost entirely made up of live fish. While occasionally an osprey will be spotted eating a small rodent, reptile or other bird, 99 per cent of their diet comes from fresh or saltwater fish. The largest catch ever documented weighed 2.5 pounds — impressive considering that an adult osprey usually only weighs thee to four pounds.

Now there are so many osprey on Martha’s Vineyard and Chappy, it would be easy to take them for granted. Whenever I hear one call out, I try to pause, squint upward and remember how lucky we are that these beautiful birds were brought back from the edge of extinction.

If you are an art lover, remember to sign up for Chappy-resident, Elizabeth Whelan’s new drawing class, beginning April 21 and continuing through Sept. 1. The Vineyard Haven Library is hosting the free class on Zoom, you can join by contacting Anne Mcdonough at the library or by emailing Elizabeth at erwhelan@gmail.com.

The Chappy Community Center is looking for a chest freezer to store ice cream for this summer’s ice cream socials. If you have one to donate, please contact the CCC at 508-627-8222.

Have a great week.