Conserve Wildlife Blog

New Jersey’s Ospreys: A Symbol of a Healthy Coast

February 5th, 2019

2018 Becomes most productive year in history.

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Banding osprey nestlings with red auxiliary bands at a nest off LBI. photo by Northside Jim.

If you live along or visit the coast, then it’s no surprise that ospreys continue to thrive in New Jersey. 2018 was yet another banner year for these coastal nesting raptors. Their large stick nests depict our rivers and estuaries while they indicate that we’re doing a good job of protecting our local environment along the coast. Today we’ve published results from last year’s nesting season in the 2018 New Jersey Osprey Project Report.

Surveys of known nests are conducted by staff and specially trained volunteers during the peak of the nestling period (late June-early July). During this time a total of 589 active nests were recorded. The outcome was determined in a total of 87% of those (512) which helps us determine the overall health of the statewide population.

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Osprey colonies did well throughout the state, with nests along the Delaware Bay being more productive than nests along the Atlantic Coast, where the majority of ospreys nest. In 2018 a total of 932 young were produced, which is the most ever in the project’s history. The average productivity rate, which is a measure of the health of the population, was 1.82 young/active (known-outcome) nest and slightly above results over the past three years.

“Papa” – A seventeen year old osprey who made the news after returning to nest along the D. Bay in 2018. Will he be back in 2019? photo by Brian Kushner.

Banding migratory birds with a lightweight aluminum leg band allows us the ability to track young after they leave the nest. In 2018 a total of 387 young were banded. On Barnegat Bay we continued to deploy auxiliary red bands on young produced on nests within the watershed. Sixty six red bands were used in 2018 which brings our total deployed to 327. This banding and band re-sighting project, Project RedBand, began in 2014 to help learn more about ospreys who fledge from nests on Barnegat Bay by collecting data on their life history while they are alive, since most traditional band sightings (or recoveries) occur when a bird is injured or found dead. Notable band recoveries from 2018 can be found in the full report.

Our osprey stewardship and volunteer coordination throughout 2018 would not be possible without the generous support of funders including the Osprey Foundation, Atlantic City Electric, and the Zoological Society of New Jersey. Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, donors and CWF members who support this project!

This is Part I of III. Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow!

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