Conserve Wildlife Blog

They’re Back: Barnegat Light Ospreys!!

April 1st, 2022

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Viewers of the BL Osprey Cam this morning saw two males confront each other at the nest. Both with fish that went flying!

By now, most people who live along the coast of New Jersey have seen an osprey. They have returned to claim their waterfront homes and spruce them up. April is the season of upside-down osprey (more on this in a few), and for those who haven’t seen an osprey, then you should tune in to the drama unfolding at the Barnegat Light Osprey Cam! Both a male and female have returned to the BL Osprey Cam nest, but only the female (Daisy) is the same as last year. There have actually been several males seen on the nest so far and just this morning, two confronted each other above the nest!

One male, 1088-08856 was identified by his band, which revealed that he was banded at a nest in Loveladies in July 2016. Then another male, nicknamed “Righty” by viewers for the band on his right leg, which has yet to be fully read (xxxx-xxx82). Duke, the previous male, who has nested here since 2018, has yet to return. He will be 16 this summer if he survived the winter and spring migration (he is notorious for late arrivals).

Early April is when ospreys are busy reclaiming their nests (or taking others over) and forming pair bonds with existing or new mates. At the Barnegat Light Osprey Cam, we are witnessing fierce competition for the resident female, who might also be challenged by another female. The male osprey, who will ultimately win her over, will perform courtship displays above the nest, called the “sky dance,” where he flies in a high undulating flight while calling with high pitch whistle sound. He often does this after a successful hunt and the female plays close attention to him from the nest below. He will also need to provide her with food. The new banded male, 82 has also courted with Daisy, so if Duke returns, the two will battle over her and the nest.

As suitable osprey nests become less prevalent, individual birds will battle over established nests to try and overtake them. In Barnegat Light, there is one unoccupied nest near the Osprey Cam nest, but it is not as close to water as this one and is surrounded by trees, which makes this nest much more desirable.

Time will tell if Duke does return to claim his nest and mate. Either way, the chance of more upside-down ospreys is highly likely! Results from the 2021 NJ Osprey Project have been finalized and hopefully released to the public in the next week. This year we are gearing up to conduct a statewide census of nesting ospreys. If you’re interested in participating in the 2022 Osprey Census, then you can sign up to receive news and information about upcoming virtual trainings.

>> Watch the Barnegat Light Osprey Cam

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2 Responses to “They’re Back: Barnegat Light Ospreys!!”

  1. Jim Merritt says:

    Ben, thanks for this great information. It is especially relevant to me because right now the Island Beach State Park camera is off-line. Jim

  2. Freda Karpf says:

    Ben thanks for the update. I love this osprey cam. I’ve got my eye on a few osprey local to me, Neptune and Avon, that aren’t on a cam. This is a treat when I can’t get out to them.