Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘new jersey osprey project’

Photo from the field

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Not your typical osprey platform!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A 30 ft. tall osprey platform is installed at Fort Monmouth in Oceanport, NJ. © Ben Wurst

For the past two years we’ve worked with staff from the Army Corps of Engineers to enhance osprey nesting habitat within the Shrewsbury River Watershed inside Fort Monmouth in Oceanport, New Jersey. We first began work during the summer of 2009 when an osprey nested on a utility pole at the Fort. The pair had eggs when their nest caused $10,000 worth of damage to a transformer. To alleviate the problem the nest was going to be removed from the pole and the nest would have been lost.  Instead Joe Fallon, Chief of the Environmental Division at the Fort decided to install a new pole next to the nest on the live power lines. I met with Joe and gave him a platform “top” and braces to attach to the top of the new pole. After the new pole was installed the nest and eggs were moved. The adults immediately took to the nest platform and successfully raised two young that year. In 2010, they raised another two young that we banded with USGS bird bands.

After completion of work this spring there will be a total of 18 nesting platforms there (not including a nest on a light pole over a baseball field). We hope to use part of this funding to install more nesting structures on several islands to the west of Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach in 2012.

Lost Connection

Monday, August 2nd, 2010
To the internet, not wildlife!

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

The office where I work, inside Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area in northern Cape May County, recently lost its connection to the world wide interweb. The office is home to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife staff and three CWF employees. Since the demise of our connection to the world wide interweb the office has been ghostly quiet. Some have chosen to work at home, use some vacation time, or get some field work done. I just wrapped up my primary field season surveying osprey nests along the Atlantic Coast of NJ so I chose to be constructive, literally. I started constructing some artificial nesting platforms for ospreys. Normally I do this in the winter when field work is very limited, but finishing these now will give me a chance to install them this fall. Late summer and fall are the best times to install platforms. The water and air are warm and the winds are calm, so boots and bulky clothes aren’t required. So, I’m glad the internet is down because it gave me a reason to construct these platforms earlier than usual.

An osprey platform sits while I work on the finishing touches. This image was shot using a technique referred to as HDR. © Ben Wurst

Two platforms will be going up in Lavallette, one near Tuckerton, and the other has yet to be determined (possibly Sea Isle). Stay tuned for more updates and photos!

Photo from the Field

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
An osprey nestling lays low in a nest

By Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

The iris is the thin colored part of an eye that is responsible for controlling the size of the pupil and the amount of light that enters the pupil. As a hatching the iris of an osprey is blood red in color. As a nestling (pictured below) they turn to an amber or orange color. The eye color and plumage of juveniles help distinguish them from adults, which have a yellow iris. Juvenile ospreys also have “buff” or tan feather tips on their contour (body) feathers. This helps camouflage them before they can fly and it also helps distinguish them from adults, who have dark brown body feathers.

An osprey nestling relies on the cryptic coloration of its plumage to protect it from avian predators. © Ben Wurst

To see more photos of ospreys and their young, click here. Check out the slideshow at the top of the page.

Ospreys Love Garbage…but the mix can be deadly

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

By Larissa Smith, Biologist & Volunteer Manager

Rope and fishing line found in an osprey nest © Matt Tribulski

Ospreys love to bring garbage back to their nests. While out checking on nests I’ve found everything from rope, fishing line, flip flops, plastic bags, a Frisbee, hats and even a plastic crab in nests.  The problem is that every year while volunteers and staff are checking on nests at least one chick is found entangled in this garbage. Fishing line gets caught around their feet and legs and a plastic bag can entangle a chick.  If no one went out to check on these nests most of these chicks wouldn’t make it.  It’s not only the chicks that suffer from the garbage we throw out. Adult ospreys have been found dead and hanging from fishing line.  Ospreys and other species whose diet consists of mostly fish are particularly vulnerable to injury and death from fishing line and hooks.  During a visit to an NJ eagle nest a chick was found with a fishing hook embedded in its mouth.  I have also found horseshoe crabs and terrapins entangled in fishing line and these are just a few examples of  how garbage effects wildlife.

Plastic bag in osprey nest © Matt Tribulski

There are some simple steps that we can all take to keep trash out of the environment.
  • Pick up and dispose of any fishing line or hooks you use or find.
  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic whenever possible and encourage others to do the same.

Thank you!

A Day in the Field: Banding Osprey Chicks on Sedge Island

Monday, July 12th, 2010
By Agata Kaczkowski, Summer Intern

Hello all! I’m new to this blog so I’m going to introduce myself. My name is Agata Kaczkowski and I’m a student in New Jersey City University. Currently I’m lucky enough to be completing my internship for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. In May, 2012 I’m expecting to graduate with a B.S. in Biology (which explains my love for nature).

As the temperature outside reached 95°F. Ben Wurst and I arrived on Sedge Island on 06/28/2010. A camp composed of middle school students greeted us as we approached the island. I was pleasantly surprised to find out how knowledgeable these kids were on the subject of ospreys! After a brief introduction, Ben and I started our journey to visit over 20 nests with hopes of finding healthy osprey chicks. Even though the weather was extremely hot the cool breeze from the ocean and the ability to soak my feet from time to time in the water made all the difference. The students followed us to the first couple of nests, where they got to hold an osprey chick as it was banded, and they took some photographs with the chicks. As we approached the second nest, the female osprey was flying really low and seemed very aggressively protective of her young. The female is usually larger and more protective of the chicks than the male. She was soaring really low as Ben was banding the chicks at the nest site, the kids observed the whole incident from their kayaks. Ben and I had over 20 nests to visit, so as the kids went back to the island we continued our journey. At the fourth nest we encountered an unpleasant situation- deceased three-week-old chick. Of the two that hatched, one had died, most likely of natural causes. We cleaned the nest and moved along.

The boat was a great way of getting from one nest to the other, although at times we had to push it because the water was too shallow for the boat. My job was to record the nest type, the number of chicks hatched, number of chicks banded and the band number (that was only if Ben thought it safe enough to band them). Most of the chicks were banded, although a couple were too young to band. We ended up banding about 26 osprey chicks around the island.

Cleaning up the fishing nets and balloon ribbons from nests was a must because the young may get tangled in the debris and not survive. I personally found bottles and shopping bags all over, which was frustrating because this is how the habitat gets destroyed. I will keep you all updated on my next field experiences…