Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Pandion haliaetus’

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

Tuesday, 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.


2018 Osprey Outlook

Monday, July 30th, 2018
Insight Into Important (Bio)Indicators: Ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

CWF Osprey Banding Apprentice Northside Jim holds a young osprey, 13/K, after banding.

Mid-summer marks the nestling period of nesting ospreys, a coastal raptor, whose diet consists mainly of fish. As a state that’s heavily influenced by its location along the Atlantic Ocean, they play a critical role in our coastal ecosystem. Ospreys are important bioindicators of the health of our coastal waters, through the lens of their prey, where pollutants are biomagnified through the food chain. As we consume many of the same fish, they show the effects of these pollutants long before humans, so the health of their population has implications for our coastal waters and us! (more…)

Help Ensure Ospreys Have a Future in New Jersey

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

ACTION ALERT: Support ecological management of the most valuable public resource for our coastal ecosystem and economy

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Menhaden is a common food source for ospreys during their nesting season in New Jersey. Photo by Northside Jim.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is accepting public comment on the establishment of ecological management of Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), which is a keystone species. Basically, a keystone species is one that plays a large role in the ecosystem where it lives. If a keystone species is lost then the ecosystem would dramatically change or cease to function, causing widespread effects to other species that benefit. In New Jersey, ospreys have largely benefited from a healthy menhaden population as we’ve had relatively high reproductive rates (more than double what’s needed to sustain population) over the past decade. From 2006 to 2016, the population has grown by 30% and above the pre-DDT, historic milestone of over 500 nesting pairs. Around 82% of the state population of ospreys nests along the Atlantic Coast and we observe menhaden at a huge number of nests during our mid-summer surveys. If menhaden numbers drop, then we will likely see osprey numbers follow suite, as reproductive rates will decline, as they are in the Chesapeake Bay.


Osprey 78/D: A Second Chance

Thursday, August 31st, 2017
“Chump” is rescued, rehabbed, and released

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Chump, what are you doing down there? Photo by Northside Jim.

On Sunday, July 30th I woke and checked my email early that morning. I had an urgent message from Deb Traster, who lives adjacent to the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences (LBIF). She said that something was not right with one of the young ospreys that fledged from a nearby nesting platform where I banded three nestlings with red bands on July 5. One was on the ground and could not take off. Fearing the worst (entanglement), she checked it out and sought help. After getting in touch with me, I reached out to my buddy, Northside Jim to see if he could get there that morning. (more…)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
Single use plastic bag wrapped around ospreys neck…

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We had quite a scare last week, on April 30th around 12:30pm, after getting a report from an observer of our Osprey Cam on our Facebook page. A single use plastic shopping bag had gotten wrapped around the neck of the incubating female. After getting the report we started to monitor the situation to see how it would unfold. The bag was loosely wrapped, so we hoped she would be able to free herself…which she did after an hour.

Here you can see the single use plastic bag around her neck.

Here you can see the single use plastic bag around her neck.

A lot of viewers and FB fans were asking why we weren’t going out to remove the bag from her neck. We answered each and every question to help make sure people knew that we were doing everything we could to protect her safety. First, we couldn’t just walk out to the nest (which is out in the middle of the salt marsh) without the female reacting to us and flying off the nest (with the plastic bag around her neck). Her flying off the nest with the bag around her neck would have only caused even more harm to her. She could have gotten snagged on a piece of nesting material and in the struggle could have choked to death or she could have fractured one of her eggs… Second, if she would have been tied down to the nest, then we would have enacted a plan to go out to the nest (after a certain amount of time) and released her. Our policy is that we will only intervene if it is a life or death situation. When we enter their nest sites we introduce stress to the birds which can ultimately do more harm than good. Finally, at least we have a camera to monitor the nest! Think of all the other 500+ nests in New Jersey where we only go out to monitor them once or twice during the nesting season. So much plastic winds up in osprey nests that it is a serious concern. People need to be more aware of their surroundings and do their best to make sure waste is properly disposed of.

There are ways you can help make a difference:

  1. Reduce the amount of stuff you buy and the amount of trash you produce
  2. Reuse what you can, recycle what you can’t
  3. Pick up litter when you see it. There is a great movement in Australia called “Take 3” and their message is simple: “Take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference.”  
  4. Stop or reduce your dependence on single use plastics
  5. Use reusable shopping bags
  6. Don’t release balloons!

The female struggles to get free of the bag.

The female struggles to get free of the bag.

Statistics for plastic recycling are dismal… According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “In 2010, the category of plastics which includes bags, sacks, and wraps was recycled at almost 12 percent.” We’re lucky that she was able to free herself. This just proves that ospreys do not have an easy life. There are many threats to ospreys and they have very high mortality rates, which are around 80%.

On the positive side, the female and male continue to incubate three eggs at Edwin B. Forsythe NWR. We should start to watch for hatching around May 19-20th. We have been writing nest news with other life history information on a weekly basis on our Osprey Cam page.