The International Osprey Foundation

Dedicated to the preservation of the Osprey

Our 2020 Osprey Foundation newsletter is published here today June 24th 2020.

If you wish to open and view in your browser click the link below

Stacks Image 223
Stacks Image 221

Here is a PDF with all the slides from the powerpoint presentation for the TIOF annual meeting PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED FOR March 26, 2020 but cancelled due to Covid 19 restrictions.

It was put together by our secretary Kathryn Brintnall and shows what we have been up to in 2019. SWIPE UP / SCROLL BAR DOWN TO VIEW ALL SLIDES. Enjoy!

Stacks Image 198
Stacks Image 189

Aika Billheimer preparing for a nest mapping trip

(photo by Dan Billheimer)


by Kathryn Brintnall, Board Member, The International Osprey Foundation

“Notebook and pen, check.”

“Water, check” “Smart-phone with map app, check” “TIOF uniform T-shirt, check.” “Put more air in my bike tire, check.”

“I’m ready,” called The International Osprey Foundation’s youngest volunteer to her dad as she prepared to help TIOF map all of the osprey nests on Sanibel and Captiva using GPS coordinates. Aika Billheimer is a sixth grader at The Sanibel School. Part of her social studies class requirement was a community service project. TIOF discovered this after a chance encounter with herat the Lighthouse Cafe. She needed a project, and TIOF needed help mapping osprey nests that were not yet located using GPS technology. It was a perfect fit.

TIOF board members Kathryn Brintnall and Jim Schnell met with Aika and her dad in November 2019 to discuss the requirements and timeline. Both parties were enthusiastic and the project was underway. Over the next six weeks, Aika and her dad traveled by boat and bike all over Sanibel and even up as far as Captiva and North Captiva. Taking careful notes, noting nest locations using GPS, and observing osprey nesting patterns. Aika logged over 15 hours for her service project. TIOF will enter her data into the Osprey Watch global database, used by Conservation and regulatory agencies such as Florida Fish and Wildlife to track population trends and inform environmental policy.

Aika also noted that although she catalogued 32 nests, there were not many osprey attending those nests in December. Her observations were more evidence Sanibel has two different populations of osprey, those that live in Florida year round, and those that migrate to South America, arriving back in Southwest Florida in the December through January timeframe.

Aika said she really loved her project because she got to be “out in nature and learn .about ospreys.” She notices them all the time now as she is out and about “on island.” Her favorite times were on her bike and her uncle’s boat checking out nests all over the islands. Aika also had some input for her peers who are more into sports or talking on their phones. “They could also get out into nature, and see how beautiful it is. It would be nice if we had an after-school nature Ccub, too,” she added. “Kids might enjoy taking a tour of some of the nests when there are birds there.”

Brintnall expressed her appreciation of Aika’s work to Charles (Chuck) Villardi, principal of The Sanibel School. She informed him that Aika made a significant contribution to TIOF.

Brintnall also remarked on how important it is that young people engage in meaningful projects that allow them to contribute to real environmental solutions and research at a young age. The collaboration between The Sanibel School and TIOF was just such an opportunity.

Villardi indicated that Aika’s service project was a perfect example of what made him so proud of “his kids,” and their involvement in the community.

TIOF President Susan Tucker said at a recent board meeting, “ We are hoping that a lot more young people will join with TIOF in its mission.”

The International Osprey Foundation’s mission is to preserve, educate the public, and research the lives of ospreys worldwide. Learn more at

Stacks Image 182

PRESS RELEASE, January 13 2020

Rachel Rainbolt from CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) told the crowd about the clinic's wildlife rescue program and talked especially about raptors, such as the Osprey. More than 40 people attended a volunteer meeting for nest monitors for The International Osprey Foundation (TIOF) on January 7 at The Community House, Sanibel.

The nesting season is under way and runs through May or June. Teams monitor more than 70 nests on Sanibel and others on Fort Myers Beach and Captiva. Keeping tabs on nest productivity is important as the osprey is an apex predator and an indicator of water/environmental quality.

James Schnell, TIOF treasurer, told the group about the ongoing nest maintenance program and what has been done and still needs to be done. Some 15 nest sites were reported as needing maintenance in the past year; 10 platforms were replaced in the past six months; 15 platforms have been made to a new design by volunteer Jim Columbo and replaced; and three sites will require a new pole as well as platform repair. Carlos Hernandez and his crew from Fort Myers have been donating their labor to install the new platforms, Schnell noted. Those unable to attend the meeting but who are interested in volunteering may contact Carol Smith, nest monitor coordinator, at 815-474-9281.

PR Contact Anne Mitchell, 239-233-0014.

Stacks Image 141

The TIOF board, James Schnell (back) and, from left, Carol Smith, Susan Tucker and Kathryn Brintnall"`

Stacks Image 145
Stacks Image 177

Pictures from Osprey Nesting Box Installation and a thank you email for TIOF Jan 15 2020

"Ma'am, I am sending pictures of the nesting box installation that took place today. Ned Bruha came first thing this morning and did a wonderful job. I want to thank you and him both for making this happen for me. I cannot wait for the osprey to start building a nest again and this time it will have a stable platform on which to build. Thank you so much for you help with this wonderful project that I was not sure how to even get it started let alone completed and you helped me achieve that. Please thank Ned for me if and when you see him."

Stacks Image 158
Stacks Image 162
Stacks Image 173
Stacks Image 166
Stacks Image 175

PRESS RELEASE Nov 5th 2019

SANIBEL ISLAND, The International Osprey Foundation (TIOF) has a new teaching tool – an interactive scale model of an osprey platform.

“I could see that the children really connected with it and enjoyed putting sticks in it at BaileyFest,” said Susan Tucker, TIOF president.

Jim Columbo, who makes platforms for the Sanibel-based foundation to replace rotted or damaged ones, came up with the idea.

“I first got the idea of a scale model of an osprey platform when we were volunteering at the TIOF booth at 'Ding' Darling Days in October,” he said.

“I noticed right away that a lot of the other organization's booths at the event had interactive displays for people walking by, especially for children. I looked at the TIOF booth and all we had were newsletters and T-shirts. I heard someone mention it would be nice to have a model of an osprey platform to look at and thought right away it would be easy to make, especially after constructing 16 of the full scale platforms.”

He added, “The following Monday morning I went into my garage and found enough scrap pieces of wood to put together the model. I used a 1/8 scale and spent about two hours putting it together.” It was ready for its first outing, to Baileyfest October 27.

According to Tucker, “It is an interactive model with replicas of an adult osprey and chicks. There are fish in the water that the osprey can pick up with magnets and bring back to the nest that have chicks waiting. It is actually pretty cool!” The model platform even has a predator guard and a perch.

The display was created by Kathryn Brintnall, a TIOF board member.


From left, Jim Columbo, Susan Tucker and Merry Merryfiel, nest monitor team leader, with the model at BaileyFest.

The 1/8th scale model of the osprey platform, made by Jim Columbo, has all the features of an actual platform.

Stacks Image 135
Stacks Image 137
Stacks Image 133

July 2019

Stacks Image 88
Osprey Foundation Awards Grants To Treat Injured birds in South Carolina

Picture by kind permission of Judie Zimomra

The International Osprey Foundation (TIOF), based on Sanibel, recently set about re-organizing and appointing new board members. The result is a renewed commitment to its goal of protecting and preserving osprey populations worldwide.
To that end, TIOF has awarded a $3,000 grant to the Avian Conservation Center in Charleston, South Carolina.
The grant request allows the center to provide medical treatment for the roughly 30 injured ospreys admitted to the center’s avian clinic throughout the year and educate more than 40,000 students and individuals annually on the importance of ospreys and their conservation both locally and globally. It will also allow the center to maintain and expand vital partnerships with industry professionals who utilize Avian Protection Programs that prioritize the conservation of osprey nest sites amidst utility company operations.
Daniel Prohaska, the center's director of development, said TIOF's support "will have a significant impact on our osprey conservation work here in South Carolina," he said. "We are very excited by the alignment between our missions and are grateful to be a part of your work. We look forward to staying in touch and building on this work together now and in the future," Prohaska added.
The Avian Conservation began in 1991 with a single injured osprey is now a professional facility that has treated over 10,000 birds and includes the capacity to treat birds impacted by toxic spills.
Along the way, the center has published groundbreaking research into environmental threats that affect both birds and people. Its mission is to identify and address vital environmental issues by providing medical care to injured birds of prey and shorebirds, and through educational, research, and conservation initiatives.
The Avian Research Center provides:
* Professional medical treatment for more than 700 injured/orphaned birds of prey and shore birds each year, releasing the majority back to their natural habitat utilizing strict criteria providing sound assurance of their survivability in the wild;
* Maintains 115 resident educational birds representing 50 species from around the world – among the most significant collections of captive birds of prey in the United States;
* Outreach to 40,000+ students and adults each year through on-site and off-site educationalprograms, highlighting the threats to birds from habitat loss, contaminants, and other human-related risk factors, as well as the key role that wild birds play as crucial environmental sentinels;
* Annual research projects including a fall coastal raptor migration survey and a citizen science survey of the endangered swallow-tailed kite; * Service as the only permanent Oiled Bird Response Facility of its kind on the eastern seaboard, affording the most efficient response possible in the event of a contaminant spill affecting native bird populations and their fragile breeding habitats;
* A professional staff representing over 75 years of collective avian experience, and a Volunteer Staff Program that provides more than 20,000 skilled volunteer service hours each year.
Stacks Image 103

Earlier news

Stacks Image 61
Stacks Image 128
Stacks Image 124

Jim Griffith June 2nd, 1935 - April 26, 2019

The International Osprey Foundation lost one of its champions on April 26 with the death of Past President Jim Griffith. He was an engineer by profession and a true environmentalist by nature.

Jim was also a volunteer for many causes and on many levels in Georgia and Sanibel including Boy Scouts, Rotary, and Sunday School. On Sanibel he was also president of the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society from 2010-19 and was also involved with CROW (Clinic for rehabilitation of wildlife), Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge and TIOF, of which he was president from 2013-19.

He diligently worked to repair Osprey platforms and built platforms as needed or requested.

Stacks Image 105
Stacks Image 107

Grants and donations

Stacks Image 39
Stacks Image 111
Stacks Image 56
Stacks Image 115
Stacks Image 98
Stacks Image 211
Stacks Image 117
Stacks Image 119