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Posts Tagged ‘project redband’

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 Osprey-Watch.org.

 

“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 Osprey-watch.org 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.

Impacts from Severe Weather minimal

Friday, June 26th, 2015
Nesting ospreys fared well from June 23rd storms on B. Bay

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

We had some pretty insane weather blow through on Tuesday evening. I saw it first hand while driving to Long Beach Island to visit some relatives in town. The storm front brought high winds and driving rain to the area. The National Weather Service has even declared that there was even a water spout in Brant Beach (which was right where I was driving on the LBI Blvd. southward). Winds gusted to 70-80mph blowing all sorts of debris (and lawn furniture) across the road. I immediately pulled over to where I was protected from the wind. While I sat there I thought of all the osprey nests out on the bay with young in them…

Photo by Ben Wurst

One is better than none! Photo by Ben Wurst

At this time of year almost all nests have young. They range in age from only hatchlings to 4 week old nestlings. Some can be easily blown from shallow or weakly built nests and can be easily blown from the top of nesting platforms. This has happened in the past (in 2012 when we had a “derecho” blow through the area in late June) and almost half the young present were blown from their nests (in Absecon).

To get a better idea of what we experienced, I asked Jonathan Carr, with Weather NJ, what we saw. This would also give me a better idea of what to expect when conducted post-storm surveys. “What we saw in SNJ on Tuesday was a bow echo as evident by radar signature. A macroburst hit SWNJ which generated substantial straight line winds that fueled the system all the way to the coast. In addition, multiple rotation signatures were picked up via velocity analysis which sparked the tornado warnings in perfect alignment from PA through SWNJ and ultimately the Jersey Shore. The NWS officially ruled the incident near Brant Beach a waterspout but little damage was done from such. All damage across SNJ was again, from straight line wind gusts which reached 80mph in several locations. Harvey Cedars actually clocked a 92mph wind gust. I wasn’t surprised given that instability and wind parameters were screaming for this to happen in the prior 24 hours, especially with the cold front trigger moving through. These type of winds are disastrous for any coastal wildlife or nesting grounds with open exposures.”

With that news on the weather front, I knew we’d have young ospreys on the ground. On Wednesday I got my first report from Osprey watchers Ray and Leslee on Cedar Run Dock Rd. They noticed the adults acting funny, who were now on the ground and not on the nest (where they were before the storm). I gave Leslee permission to walk out to the nest. She found two 3 week old young on the ground. I had plans that day so I couldn’t make it there until 9pm. But when I met Leslee and Ray the nestlings were still on the ground. We picked them up and put them back into the nest (and we also fed a good amount of mosquitoes!!)

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

Four stripes!! Photo by Ben Wurst

The following day we rallied to get out on our boat to conduct some more “post-storm surveys,” the first of the season. We checked nests from Bonnet Island to Loveladies and Barnegat. A total of 18 active nests were surveyed. At the first nest we checked we found four young (this nest has failed to produce young for the past two years, amazing!)!! The second had two nestlings in the nest and none were found on the ground. GREAT! But, as the clouds moved in the survey took a darker turn… The next nest we checked was empty but had the remains of a very young osprey. Then the next one had two alive in the nest and one dead on the ground (a 14 day old). The next two nests had 2 and 3 young in them and they all looked very healthy. Then at the next nest we saw the whole nest down on the marsh. When we dug through it we found the bodies of two young. They were instantly crushed under the weight of the nest. So sad. The adult female was still sitting on the nest, surely hoping they were found alive. 🙁 It is now too late to get out to other areas to rescue young. I have learned that young are NOT fed when they are grounded. So there is little chance that any young would still be alive if found on the ground. Future surveys will determine how many other areas were affected by the strong storms.

Despite the gloomy outcome, nests in this severely impacted area had overall good results. We counted a total of 27 young from 18 active nests which gives us an average productivity rate of 1.5 young (per active-known-outcome nest). This is almost twice the level needed to sustain the population. Most young were around 17 days old. Only five were banded for future tracking.

It’s too early to tell how the entire population will fare this year. It could be a down year, with reports of no large schools of menhaden that are close to shore. Menhaden (bunker) are one of the most crucial food sources for many coastal species, including osprey.

Photos from the Survey:
Photo by Ben Wurst

Remains of a young osprey. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

One. Two. Three. All in the nest! Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female on her nest. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

The oldest in this historic nest got a little feisty. Photo by Ben Wurst

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Female hovers over her nest to check on her young (3) after we surveyed her nest. This is one of the oldest nests in NJ. Photo by Ben Wurst.

Photo by Ben Wurst

Young that were found on the ground were decomposing very quickly. We moved them out of sight from the adults. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

An empty nest off Loveladies. Last year this nest was productive. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A week old chick and an egg on a channel marker nest of LBI. Photo by Ben Wurst

Photo by Ben Wurst

A four week old nestling that was banded with a red auxiliary band for future tracking. Photo by Ben Wurst

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.