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Posts Tagged ‘new jersey osprey project’

Humans Help New Jersey Osprey Population Exceed 600 Nesting Pairs

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016
2015 New Jersey Osprey Report documents close to 600 pairs up from low of 50 pairs

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Bill Clarke, project supporter holds a young and feisty osprey that Ben Wurst prepares to band with a red auxiliary band on Barnegat Bay. July, 2015. Photo by Northside Jim.

Bill Clarke, project supporter holds a young and feisty osprey that Ben Wurst prepares to band with a red auxiliary band on Barnegat Bay. July, 2015. Photo by Northside Jim.


Today, we released the 2015 New Jersey Osprey Report with our partner New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). The report highlights the continued recovery of this threatened bird of prey.


“Ospreys are an important indicator of the health of our coastal ecosystems, so it is important to track the health of their population. Their continuing recovery is a very promising sign for our estuaries and the fish and other wildlife that depend on clean water to survive” stated Conserve Wildlife Foundation executive director David Wheeler. “Today, no visit to a coastal waterfront would be the same without the magnificent sighting of an osprey soaring above or crashing down to the water’s surface for a fish.”


Though only about 50 osprey pairs remained in New Jersey in the early 1970s, the report documents close to 600 pairs using a total of 534 active nests in 2015, more than any other year in the project’s history.


CWF and ENSP survey an estimated 80% of the population and create an accurate representation of overall health. Biologists have come to rely on the assistance of specially trained volunteers (osprey banders) and many “Osprey Watchers” who report nests on


“The vital work of our volunteers helps us keep our finger on the pulse of the population,” said Kathy Clark, supervising biologist with the DEP’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program. “Having dedicated volunteers is a great long-term monitoring tool and really strengthens the team’s ability to cover the state osprey population effectively.”


“Over the past few years we’ve really seen a shift in how we can track the overall health of the osprey population. In previous years, the use of aerial helicopter surveys to document the size and health of the statewide population allowed biologists to reach large areas, but was also very expensive,” stated Conserve Wildlife Foundation habitat program manager Ben Wurst. “Today, we utilize volunteers to help collect much of this valuable data. These ‘Osprey Watchers’ can view all nests, report nest activity, and other data online that we can, in turn, use to track the statewide population. The use of also helps to raise awareness and educate citizens about ospreys and current environmental issues that aquatic ecosystems face today, including global climate change, depletion of fish stocks, and environmental contaminants.”


As in previous years, biologists and dedicated volunteers conducted ground surveys in mid-summer. These surveys were conducted in the most densely populated colonies of nesting ospreys in New Jersey. From the Meadowlands, south to Cape May, and west along Delaware Bay, a sample of each major colony is checked and nest outcome data are used to determine how well our ospreys are faring. During these surveys, the health of nestlings is assessed and they are banded with USGS bird bands for future tracking. Since this is usually the only visit to nests each year, the condition of the nesting platform is also noted and repairs or replacement are scheduled for the non-breeding season.


In 2015, CWF continued to band young ospreys produced in Barnegat Bay with a red, alpha-numeric coded auxiliary band. Project RedBand is focused on ospreys that nest in the Barnegat Bay watershed from Point Pleasant to Little Egg Harbor. The main goal of the project is to engage the public in osprey management and conservation along the Jersey Shore. At the same time, while collecting data from re-sightings, biologists will learn about their dispersal, foraging habits, site fidelity, migration routes, and life span. This year 33 bands were deployed, putting the total in the field at 95. 2016 marks the first year that red banded ospreys (from 2014) will start to return here from their wintering grounds in South America.


2015 Report Highlights:

  • In 2015, 423 known-outcome nests fledged an average of 1.74 young per active nest. That rate has averaged 1.75 in recent years, remaining well above the minimum necessary for a stable population (1.0 young/active nest).
  • The 2015 productivity rate was near the long term average and suggests the population will continue to grow.
  • Thirty-one new nests were found this year, and we combined that number with last year’s census to estimate the overall population close to 600 pairs.
  • The next statewide census will occur in 2017.
  • Of the 423 known-outcome nests, 347 were found along the Atlantic Coast and 76 were found on Delaware Bay.
  • A total of 737 young were produced from these known-outcome nests.
  • A total of 432 young were banded by volunteers and biologists with USGS leg bands for future tracking.
  • Population growth remains around 10% since approximately 2009.


Learn More:


About ENSP’s New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund:

You can help protect New Jersey’s ospreys and all other rare wildlife by supporting ENSP’s New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund when you file your state income tax this year and every year. Simply look for Line 59 on your NJ 1040 income tax return, and check-off for wildlife. Every dollar you donate goes directly to ENSP, enabling biologists to continue their work to restore, conserve and enhance New Jersey’s populations of rare species. What’s more, your contribution is matched with an equal amount of federal funding, further strengthening efforts to protect hundreds of imperiled species.


Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Osprey Pair Get A New Home

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
Students install a new nesting platform for Avalon ospreys

by: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Volunteers and Students from Cape May County Technical School

Volunteers and Students from Cape May County Technical School

One lucky pair of ospreys received a brand new nesting platform due to the effort of volunteers and students from the Cape May County Technical School! Dedicated osprey project volunteer Matt Tribulski reached out to CMC Tech Natural Science teacher Hanna Toft, regarding replacement of an aging platform in the Avalon back bay. Hanna is an osprey project volunteer and bander and incorporates the osprey project into her curriculum. The nest that was replaced was an old four poster that was unstable and not predator proof. The nest was located at the edge of the water causing the birds to get off the nest every time a boat or jet ski went by (which in the summer is quite frequently).


Hanna had a platform available that her students had built last year. We couldn’t have picked a better day for the install, the weather was gorgeous and warm for November. We met Hanna and eight of her students out on the water. The new platform was placed further back from the water and has a predator guard. The students removed the old platform, leaving some posts for the ospreys to perch.


We hope that the birds like their new home when they return in the spring.


Thank you to Matt, Hanna and her students for all of their help!

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Learn More:


Larissa Smith is the Volunteer Manager/Wildlife Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.



Photography Show to Celebrate Long Beach Island’s Wildlife

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Hiding in Plain Sight” to Take Place on Friday, August 14 at Ann Coen Gallery in Surf City

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Ann Coen Conserve Wildlife Postcard

On Friday, August 14 at 6 PM, the Ann Coen Gallery will host “’Hiding in Plain Sight:’ Celebrating LBI’s Wildlife,” a photography show featuring three talented local outdoor photographers.


This – free and open to the public – event will feature a clam bar, refreshments, acoustic music, and the work of three local photographers, Eric Hance, Northside Jim and Ben Wurst, including handmade frames.


Despite their different backgrounds, all three shutterbugs are known to brave the elements all four seasons to bring rarely seen perspectives of our coastal species.


Eric Hance is a professionally trained photographer with beautiful fine art wildlife photographs. Northside Jim is an enthusiast with some outrageous and whimsical pictures showing the lives of local wildlife that live on the Island. Ben Wurst is the osprey expert who takes care of LBI’s osprey and habitat and captures stunning images of both in their most intimate moments.


“Hiding in Plain Sight” is a free event, and proceeds from the sale of photographs will benefit the work of Conserve Wildlife Foundation, a private, statewide nonprofit dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s endangered and threatened species. Photos of Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Piping Plover, Terrapin, Black Skimmers, and other amazing endangered species that can be found on the Island will be on display at the Ann Coen Gallery.


“I am really excited to host this show and these three photographers. The body of work between them should prove to be very eye-opening to locals and vacationers,” explained Gallery Owner Ann Coen. “I don’t think too many people realize the wildlife we have right in our own backyard. When I approached each photographer for the show, they were all in agreement right from the start that a portion of their sales would go right back to Conserve Wildlife Foundation, which really motivated me and showed the importance each photographer places on the conservation of our wildlife here in New Jersey.”


Eric Hance is a photographer for Ann Coen Photography. His goal is to captivate viewers in the simplest form; to capture a specific scene in the strongest way.


Northside Jim is a self-proclaimed “beach bum with a camera,” from North Beach. He uses a camera to experience, to learn about, and to share stories about LBI’s creatures on his popular blog, Readings From The Northside.


Ben Wurst, photographer and Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation, is responsible for managing and protecting ospreys as part of the New Jersey Osprey Project. In addition to photography, Wurst is known for his woodworking with reclaimed materials with his small business, reclaimed LLC.


“Being able to utilize my skills to help raise critical funding and awareness for rare wildlife is a dream come true for me,” exclaimed Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Ben Wurst. “Working with these species in New Jersey is what spawned my interests in both hobbies. Now they have progressed into lifelong passions of mine. I consider myself lucky to be on the roster for this show!”


Doors open at the Ann Coen Gallery, 1418 Long Beach Blvd. in Surf City, New Jersey, at 6 PM on Friday, August 14 for Hiding in Plain Sight: Celebrating LBI’s Wildlife. The show will remain on display until Friday, August 21.


Learn more:


Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


Project RedBand continues on Barnegat Bay

Friday, July 24th, 2015
92 Ospreys Enlisted in Citizen Science Based Re-sighting Project

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A young osprey was banded with a color auxiliary band: 76/C for future tracking at a nest on Long Beach Island.

A young osprey named “Danny” was banded with a color auxiliary band 76/C for future tracking at a nest on Long Beach Island. Photo by Northside Jim.

This is the critical time of year for monitoring our nesting ospreys. Each year biologists and specially trained volunteers, aka Osprey Banders, conduct ground surveys by boat to monitor the state population. They visit or survey the most densely populated colonies of nesting ospreys: Sandy Hook, Barnegat Bay, Great Bay, Absecon, Ventnor-Margate-Ocean City, Great Egg Harbor Watershed, Sea Isle, Avalon-Stone Harbor, Wildwood, Maurice River, and parts of the Delaware Bay. These surveys have been conducted since the early 1970s when ospreys were not so common, with only 50 pairs in 1973.


Their recovery has been quite remarkable. With an estimated 600 nesting pairs throughout the state, our ospreys are in a much better position today. Why put so much time and effort into monitoring a seemingly healthy population? Even though their population is much larger than it was decades ago, ospreys still face a variety of threats that jeopardize their ultimate survival. It’s commonly known that ospreys face very high mortality rates in their first year of life. Before even leaving the nest their young are so vulnerable. They can fall or be blown out of the nest, predated by raccoons, crows, or eagles, killed by their own siblings, or die from starvation. After they fledge, then they need to learn to find and catch prey and avoid power lines and wind turbines. Then they need to learn to migrate south and avoid being shot in the process. Once they find a suitable wintering site, then they remain in the same area for the next two years. Then they return to their natal areas to find a suitable nest site and start their own osprey family!


Today, we need your help! We cannot reach all active nests in New Jersey. There is still plenty of time to help us keep track of the state population. Citizens are encouraged to submit sightings of activity at osprey nests on Osprey Watch, a global osprey watching community. In 2013 all of the known locations for osprey nests was released on Osprey Watch’s website. As a partner with Osprey Watch, we share and use the data collected to help determine the overall health of the population, which is summarized in our annual report.


To help engage our Osprey Watchers, we started Project RedBand, a citizen science based osprey re-sighting project. This is year two of the project. So far we’ve deployed 92 red bands (out of 100) on young produced at nests on Barnegat Bay (62 in 2014 and 30 in 2015). The young that were banded last year will start to return to New Jersey in 2016. Usually young adults return later than older adults, so the red banded birds might not be seen until May or June. That’s when they’ll find areas with high prey availability and suitable nest sites. Usually males don’t stray far from their natal areas but females do. With these red bands, we hope to learn a little more about where our ospreys are dispersing to and at the same time engaging our coastal communities in osprey conservation.


Learn more:


Ben Wurst is the Habitat Program Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey “2014 Annual Report” Released

Friday, March 27th, 2015

CWF Releases its First Annual Report Ever Using a Story Map Format: “2014 Annual Report

By David Wheeler, Executive Director

Technology has proven to be vital to Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s work protecting rare wildlife species over the years. Our biologists depend greatly on modern technologies to band, track, and share online the journeys of wildlife. Our webcams broadcast the most intimate behaviors of nesting birds and bats across the web. And we seek out ever-evolving communications technologies to spread the word about the inspiring stories of wildlife, from social media and infographs to e-books and Story Maps. These technologies offer newfound abilities to share complex data on multiple levels, while still incorporating the awe-inspiring photography and videos that bring wildlife’s stories to life.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is excited to offer our 2014 Annual Report in a unique format that utilizes one of those technologies – Story Maps. In the past year, we have explored the wonders of American oystercatchers with our first Story Map – and now the annual report allows all of our projects to be highlighted in this interactive format.

A screen capture of one of the pages of the CWF 2014 Annual Report Story Map.

A screen capture of one of the pages of the CWF 2014 Annual Report Story Map.

Visit the multiple pages within this Story Map to learn about Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s many projects and partnerships in 2014, and the imperiled wildlife species in need of our help. Find examples of the innovative and dedicated leadership of our biologists and volunteers. And take an online journey across the state to learn how our projects made a difference in all corners of New Jersey in 2014 – a great year for wildlife in the Garden State!