Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘new jersey osprey project’

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!


New Jersey Ospreys Banded for Scientific Study at All Time High

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey Releases Results of 2014 Osprey Report

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Three Osprey Young Wearing Red Bands. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Three Osprey Young Wearing Red Bands. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) today released the 2014 Osprey Project Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, active nests and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey with data collected by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWFNJ biologists and dedicated volunteers. A new all-time high number of young osprey were banded for future tracking.


“The comeback of these magnificent birds continues to inspire us, especially in combination with the parallel recoveries of bald eagles and peregrine falcons,” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “Ospreys depend on a strong fish population and healthy waters, so they are a strong indicator of our recovering coastal and inland waters in New Jersey.”


To keep track of the health of New Jersey’s osprey population, biologists and volunteers conduct surveys each year. These surveys focus on the most densely populated colonies of nesting ospreys in New Jersey. From the Meadowlands to Cape May and along Delaware Bay, a sample of each area is recorded. The data is used to determine the health of the population. While surveys are conducted, osprey nestlings are also banded with United States Geological Survey (USGS) bird bands for future tracking.


2014 Report Highlights:

  • In 2014, 420 active osprey nests were recorded. A total of 25 new nests were recorded this year.
  • With this data and last year’s census, the overall 2014 population is estimated at 567 pairs, up from 542 pairs in 2013.
  • 339 known-outcome nests fledged an average of 2.02 young per active nest, which is a slight increase from 1.92 in 2013.
  • A total of 526 young, a new all-time high, were banded by volunteers and staff with USGS leg bands for future tracking.


This season, weather conditions and prey availability were favorable for ospreys. Temperatures and precipitation were both average this summer. A common item in New Jersey osprey diet continues to be Atlantic Menhaden. The productivity of the ospreys is dependent on the health and abundance of coastal fisheries.


To help engage citizen scientists for the first time in over 20 years, young ospreys have been marked with an auxiliary color band in New Jersey. The new band, which is a red anodized aluminum rivet band, bears an alpha-numeric code. This coded band allows birders, osprey watchers and wildlife photographers the ability to identify individual birds. This new project, “Project RedBand” is focused on ospreys that nest in the Barnegat Bay watershed from Point Pleasant to Little Egg Harbor.


“The use of the auxiliary ‘red bands’ will help us learn a lot about the ecology of ospreys nesting on Barnegat Bay,” stated CWF Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst. “Project RedBand will also help us engage local communities in osprey conservation and management by encouraging citizens to report re-sightings of banded birds. We are hopeful that this project will instill in New Jersey residents a long lasting appreciation for birds of prey and the habitat they require to survive.”


Learn More:

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


Photo from the Field

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Running the numbers

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Ben Wurst prepares to band two osprey nestlings for future tracking. Photo courtesy Eric Sambol

Ben Wurst prepares to band two osprey nestlings for future tracking. Photo courtesy Eric Sambol

By now many young ospreys have taken to the wing. While they still rely on their nests to perch at night and their parents for food, these juveniles take to the skies to learn the skills needed to survive to adulthood. Our nesting surveys have been completed, birds banded, and our sunburn and green bites are healing! Over the next week I will start to enter and summarize data that I’ve collected and data from our volunteer “banders” who help cover the most densely populated colonies. From my surveys, which range from Mantoloking to Atlantic City, I’d say that productivity is down in some areas and up in others, as compared to last year. But, ospreys still had a decent year. I would NOT call it a BAD year!

By far my own survey effort was not as great as last year, when we conducted a census of all nesting ospreys in NJ, by publishing our nest locations on our partners website, called Osprey Watch. This year I battled broken boats, a severe cold (still didn’t slow me down), harsh south winds, and thunderstorms to get to as many nests as I could, especially on Barnegat Bay. Why Barnegat Bay? We all have heard that Barnegat Bay is dying. Overloaded with excess nutrients from stormwater runoff, which is killing off the eelgrass beds that provide shelter for many juvenile fish, aka future osprey prey. This project will help us learn about osprey foraging habitat on N. Barnegat Bay. Are more birds foraging in the ocean in those areas, as opposed to birds that nest closer to LBI and LEHT? Hopefully our ospreys will help shed some light on the health of the bay. Lastly, the project would not be possible without the generous support of Northside Jim, chief blogger/extraordinary photographer at “Readings from the Northside” and his many followers. With their support we were able to purchase (100) and deploy (60) a red auxiliary band on young birds. These bands are engraved with an alpha-numeric code which will make identifying birds much easier than only the aluminum USGS band. In the coming weeks Jim will be giving us some assistance with setting up a nice little website where people can learn all about the bands, the birds, and most importantly: report re-sightings of these awesome new bands!

Terrapin Week: Making a Difference

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

This story marks the fourth of five blog stories spotlighting New Jersey’s Diamondback Terrapin – and educating people on the research and efforts being done to protect these fascinating reptiles!

Part 1, Monday, was an introduction into the world of the Diamondback Terrapin. Part 2, Tuesday, featured CWF’s research efforts to protect the terrapins. Part 3, Wednesday, looked at great places to view these beautiful turtles . Part 4, today’s blog post, will highlight some important ways you can help protect the Diamondback Terrapins. Part 5, Friday, will showcase some other important regional research being done by our partners.

Steps You Can Take to Protect the Diamondback Terrapins!

by Ben Wurst, CWF Habitat Program Manager

A female terrapin pauses while crossing Great Bay Blvd in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.

A female terrapin pauses while crossing Great Bay Blvd in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.

We all can make a difference to help conserve northern diamondback terrapins. This beautiful species is a symbol of our coast – and now more than ever, we need to be sensitive to our incredible coastal estuary ecosystems!

Here are some ways that you can help make a difference to protect this amazing species:

  • Slow down, don’t tailgate, and be aware while driving in coastal areas from May through July.
  • If you see a terrapin on the road, pull over, put on your hazard lights and carefully help the turtle cross in the direction it is going. Please be careful and use your best judgement and do not get in front of a motor vehicle to stop them on area roads. Do not jeopardize your own safety for a turtle.
  • If you go crabbing and use commercial-Maryland style crab pots, use BRDs or “bycatch reduction devices” to prevent terrapins from getting trapped in them. Use line that sinks to prevent a crab pot from becoming lost. Abandoned crab pots can trap and kill a ton of marine life over time, including blue claw crabs, many species of fish, and terrapins.
  • Talk to others to educate them about terrapins and their role in the ecosystem. You can learn all about them in our Online Field Guide!
  • Volunteer with CWF to patrol roadways and take part in other volunteer actions in Southern Ocean County, Atlantic County, and Cape May County! We really need your help – so please contact us if you, your business, or your civic group is willing to help save the incredible diamondback terrapin!
  • Donate to CWF’s diamondback terrapin program. Any amount would help greatly! Click here and note Terrapin in the PayPal note, or you can mail a contribution to Conserve Wildlife Foundation, 501 East State Street, P.O. Box 420, Mailcode 501-03E, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420. Be sure to note Terrapin in the check’s subject line.

Email us at with Volunteer in the Subject line if you’re interested.