Conserve Wildlife Blog

Photo from the Field / Eclipse Osprey Platform Installation

April 9th, 2024

by Ben Wurst / Senior Wildlife Biologist

Last fall I received a text from Kelly Scott, Resource Interpretive Specialist at Island Beach State Park about an osprey platform. She was kayaking within the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone and noticed one laying on its side – on a sandbar. I knew exactly which nest she was looking at. Later last year, I flew my sUAS to confirm her observation and make plans to get it back in working order before ospreys returned this year.

It was a nest platform (123-A-035) that has been occupied since it was installed in 2006 by Boy Scouts with Troop 22. Last year, I banded two nestlings with federal and red auxiliary bands (22/N & 23/N) at this nest on June 29. I observed them after the fledged, which was great to see after ospreys had such a terrible year in 2023.

It is a very visible nest that was very close to the edge of a creek with strong tidal flow. This is how I knew which nest it was that Kelly had found in the water. It fell from erosion of the shoreline where it was installed. Using the slider below, you can see how much that shoreline changed over a decade (2010-2021).

2010 2021

The original plan was to re-install the fallen nest platform, but that didn’t take shape over the winter. This spring, weather and personal obligations delayed installing a new nest platform for them until yesterday. I quickly built and loaded a platform onto my truck in the morning. I rallied my son, Reed after school to help launch our boat for the season and install this platform. A bonus would be doing this during the solar eclipse!

I knew I needed to get this done ASAP and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since ospreys returned in March. They return to the same nest site and mate for life, so I knew that they needed a new home to continue producing young. With April here, the female will lay eggs in the coming weeks. With no nest, they would be forced to battle over another existing nest or find a new site.

We set out from the mainland in Waretown and headed east towards Sedge. We also brought our bay loving dog, Kona for the first time to work. The wind was out of the southwest so there was a little bounce on the bay but once we got near the barrier islands and headed east, all was swell. It was cool and cloudy with no sun visible, so it was hard for us to tell how far along the eclipse was. Thankfully, we got a good view before it clouded up.

Once we got out to the site we carried all our tools and the nest platform to where it would be installed. Ospreys were everywhere. I saw a pair around the area where the former platform was located and knew this was the pair. I saw a bird on a low snag and it looked like they had started to build a nest there.

It was tough work lugging everything out and back by ourselves but we worked together to dig a hole, install the pole and build the nest platform (yes, we did place it much further away from the shoreline). Reed helped get them started on a new nest and moments after we left the area, an osprey landed on the platform! We fist bumped and Reed smiled. I’ve never installed a platform solo with my son, so this was a great experience for both of us. I can’t wait to bring him back to that nest when we survey it in the summer to determine if the pair was successful!

>> Donate

>> Learn more

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.