Conserve Wildlife Blog

Project RedBand is a go!

September 4th, 2014

Time to get outside and watch some ospreys!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A pair of ospreys produced at a nest on Barnegat Bay were banded with a red auxiliary band. © Northside Jim

A pair of ospreys produced at a nest on Barnegat Bay were banded with a red auxiliary band. © Northside Jim

A lot has changed throughout the 40 project history of the New Jersey Osprey Project. From a low of only 53 osprey pairs (statewide) in 1973, today there are more than 540 pairs that return here each year to feed, nest, and raise young. In the beginning work to re-establish their population was a trementous undertaking. Ospreys, a  were loaded with environmental contaminents (DDT, which caused the thinning of egg shells), their habitat was bulldozed, and early on birds were shot for their feathers and eggs. Once the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1973 ospreys were afforded protection they deserved, and work by biologists like Pete McLain were underway to restore the population in New Jersey. 

Today we’re in a whole new era of osprey conservation and are relying more on sighting and input from the public, or “Osprey Watchers.” To help engage citizen scientists, and for the first time in over 20 years, young ospreys have been marked with an auxiliary band. The new band, which is a red anodized aluminum rivet band, bears an alpha-numeric code allows birders, osprey watchers and wildlife photographers the ability to identify these individual birds by their bands. This new project, “Project RedBand” is being focused on ospreys that nest in the Barnegat Bay watershed from Point Pleasant south to Little Egg Harbor. The main goals of the project are to engage the public in osprey management and conservation along the Jersey Shore. At the same time, while collecting data from re-sightings, we will learn about their dispersal, foraging habits, site fidelity, migration routes, and their life span.

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