Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Osprey Nestling Relocation

Over the weekend I was contacted by Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research to find a nest platform where a juvenile osprey could be placed. We have 475 pairs in the state, but I needed to find a specific platform where the nestling(s) would be similar in age (6-7 weeks old) to the juvenile from Tri-State. Instantly I thought of one pair that nested on a new structure inside Forsythe NWR in Oceanville along the "Wildlife Drive." When I was there on July 8th banding (nestlings between the ages of 4-6 weeks old) this nest had two hatchlings. The hatchlings were approximately 2-3 days in age and need very close parental care. On Monday, I got confirmation that there was one nestling in the nest at Forsythe, so I proceeded with the transfer of the juvenile osprey from Tri-State. The nestling was now 6 weeks old.

 An adult perched on the platform.

I picked up the osprey in Vineland, where I met Russ, a volunteer with Tri-State, who donates his time to help injured wildlife. I then drove to Forsythe NWR and met Jeff Sloane, a biological technician and two interns. We met out on the "Wildlife Drive" at the osprey nest where we were going to place the bird. Both adults were present at the nest (a good sign). We then loaded up the ladder and the osprey and paddled across the ditch to the nest.

Jeff Sloane, Biological Technician with USFWS carries the young osprey up to the nest.

I removed the juvenile osprey from a box and handed it to Jeff, who then placed it in the nest. The adults circled, calling to their chick to "lay down." Osprey nestlings rely heavily on their plumage or feather coloration as camouflage to help them avoid predation. Basically we are seen as predators. Once Jeff placed the bird in the nest he climbed down and we proceeded to leave the area quietly. Once Jeff climbed down and was removing the ladder, the juvenile osprey from Tri-State instantly took flight and fledged! We watched as it flew into the wind towards Atlantic City. It's flight was strong and it landed nearby in the saltmarsh.

 Jeff places the osprey in the nest.
Since all juvenile ospreys look alike (buff feather tips and orange eyes) it will hopefully beg for food from another adult in the area. Unfortunately, there is no way for us to track this bird or where it travels to. It is banded with a federal USGS bird band, so if for any reason it does not survive and someone finds the band, then we will get information on where and when it was found. Until then, we just have to hope for the best.

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