Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Observations and more great news!!

What a great day and week this has been! The other day while off from work for the holiday, I saw two ospreys soaring south for migration. It was a beautiful sight, but what drew my eye to them was the ospreys unqiue call that cannot be forgotten. As I watched them fly overhead, I thought, "see you in a couple months!"

On another happy note, I am proud to announce that the project to build and place 10 osprey platform in Great Bay Blvd. WMA has been fully funded by AmerGen!!! Without the support and funding from AmerGen and other private donors, the osprey project would not be able to accommidate the fast growing population of ospreys nesting needs with the dwindling state funding. Below is the full proposal for Great Bay Blvd.

Thank you Nancy, Bill and all other private donors!


Great Bay Osprey Enhancement Project

In cooperation with

NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife,

Endangered and Nongame Species Program

Prepared by: Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ

August 8th, 2008


Historically, before the effects of DDT caused the state’s osprey population to decline, over 500 osprey nests could be found along New Jersey’s coastline. By 1974 only 50 nests remained. The effects of DDT in the food chain caused reproduction to fail, and habitat was lost with a burgeoning shore population that eliminated many trees and increased ground predator populations. In NJ the osprey was listed as endangered in 1974 by the state. Recovery began when DDT use was banned, and biologists coordinated efforts to supply man-made nest platforms for the birds. These new artificial nest platforms replaced the snags and trees that were lost as the barrier islands became more developed. By 1986 the osprey population had surpassed 100 pairs, sparking the decision to upgrade their status to threatened in the state. Since that time, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program staff has worked to monitor and manage the population, tracking their nest success every year with a core group of volunteers, and censusing the population every three years. In 2006 the NJ osprey population hit a new post-DDT record of just over 400 active nests, not far below the estimated historic population of 450 to 500 nests.

Great Bay and Little Egg Harbor are surrounded by over 25,000 acres of protected emergent saltwater marsh. It is located along the Atlantic Coast between Ocean and Atlantic Counties. Both bays contain excellent foraging areas for ospreys because of the shallows waters and close proximity to the ocean. Currently only 21 suitable nesting structures exist within 3 square miles. For example, Sedge Islands WMA currently has over 25 available nest structures within 1 square mile. This year all 21 structures were occupied.

Most nesting structures are decades old and are in poor shape. Inadequate nest platforms create situations where the young are very vulnerable to predation from ground predators and loss due to strong winds during storms. In 2007, the osprey colony (Great Bay to Atlantic City) had a great season with a productivity rate of 1.95 young/active (known-outcome) nest with a total of 41 young produced. With such a high productivity rate, in the coming years, more young will be returning to breed close to their places of origin. We believe the lack of nest structures in the bay is limiting the osprey population, and focused improvement, by providing platforms, will increase the nesting population.


Enhance nest availability and productivity of ospreys in Great and Little Egg Harbor Bays to help restore the state population to historic levels.


  • Increase the availability of nest platforms for osprey along Great and Little Egg Harbor Bays.
  • Replace old, damaged, and predator-prone nest platforms currently available.


  • Construct 10 nest platforms using NJDFW osprey platform plans.
  • Transport platforms to central staging area (Great Bay Blvd. WMA)
  • Transport platforms to each individual location where the nest will be placed.
  • Erect platform(s) with NJDFW, USFWS partners, and volunteers.


  • December 2008 – Construct platforms with volunteers.
  • January 2009 – Transport and install 10 platforms.
  • Summer 2009 – Survey nest platforms for occupation.

1 comment:

Greg M said...

Greg work Ben!

What happens once you guys meet or exceed the historic population of roughly 500 nests? Will you keep creating additional habitats?

Also is there ever a possibility of Osprey's being removed from the protected list once there is a healthy population? Or would they remain on there so that the species is always protected?