Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘project redband’

NJTV: Osprey population continues to rebound in NJ

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

NJTV News recently covered the continuing recovery of ospreys in the Garden State by visiting the nesting pair at Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts & Sciences. CWF’s Ben Wurst and David Wheeler joined NJTV for this inspiring video and accompanying story.


The Inspiring Story of Osprey 39/D

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
A promising outcome from a dangerous situation

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Yesterday evening, while conducting an osprey nest survey at Sedge Island Wildlife Management Area, I received a message from a local wildlife photographer about an osprey nestling that was entangled. I talked to the photographer, Rich Nicol and got detailed information about the situation, the nest, and started to formulate a plan to address the situation. After learning that the nest was on a 35-40’ high pole, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get up there without some help. Yes – a large ladder would suffice, but it would be tricky to handle the situation (with the bird being entangled). You see, after seeing photos of the young osprey, I knew it was RTF (Ready To Fly). Ospreys fledge or take their first flight at around 7-8 weeks of age. The entangled osprey was around 7 weeks old. I knew we had to act quickly to catch the bird and untangle it before it tried to fledge. This morning I saw the photos that Rich took and it clearly showed that the young osprey had monofilament or a net around its neck… (more…)

Project RedBand Alumni Update!

Friday, July 8th, 2016
Osprey 44/C re-sighted at Island Beach State Park!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Project RedBand Osprey 44/C was re-sighted by Shayna Marchese on Island Beach State Park on July 3, 2016.

Project RedBand Osprey 44/C was re-sighted by Shayna Marchese on Island Beach State Park on July 3, 2016.

Really exciting news. For the first time this year, a (live and well) red banded osprey was re-sighted! 44/C was banded as a nestling on July 12, 2014 and photographed by Shayna Marchese on July 3, 2016 at Island Beach State Park. Young ospreys spend two years on their wintering grounds before returning to their natal areas. This is the first year that 44/C has returned to New Jersey. 44/C appears to be a male, and males have a higher level of site fidelity than females do, so they are more likely to return to the same area that they originated from. We aren’t surprised that one of our first red banded birds to be re-sighted in New Jersey was at Island Beach State Park, just outside Sedge Island Wildlife Management Area. For anyone who is not familiar with Sedge, it is the state’s most densely populated osprey colony in New Jersey. Around 30 pairs of ospreys nest at Sedge which is less than 3 square miles. (more…)

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.

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.