Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Platform Work Continues and Some Nesting Season Results

On Tuesday, I got some much needed assistance with the installation of 3 platforms in Little Egg Harbor inside the Great Bay Blvd. Wildlife Management Area. This past winter and spring I had some friends help me construct 14 platforms. We installed 9 in March. More than half the new platforms were occupied this year, a couple nests even produced young, while others were simply "housekeeping" or practicing to nest.

Two of the three new platforms were placed next to old ones that will be removed this fall. The old platforms were unstable and in a state-of-disrepair. The other platform was placed directly across from the old Fish Factory (photos will come soon!).

An adult osprey flies by while conducting surveys in Little Egg Harbor. Photo by Bill Steiner

On another note, I've got some great news and nesting season results for you. The results are astounding. Truthfully, I did not think that the osprey population would have grown as much as they did in the past three years, but it has. Over the past 10 years or so population growth has slowed (from around 19% to 9%), which I believe is mostly due to a lack in nesting platforms. But since 2006 (when the last statewide survey was conducted) the population has grown by 19% to 475 nesting pairs, statewide. This is another record breaking post-DDT milestone. Historically, records showed that prior to the 1930's there were more than 500 nesting pairs of ospreys in NJ. After the effects of DDT, habitat loss, and persecution the statewide population was down to only 50 pairs in the 1960's. This prompted biologists to list the bird as endangered and work began to help the population recover. A large part of the restoration efforts were focused on erecting artificial nesting platforms. Today, you can tell that all the hard work done by biologists, like Pete McLain, Larry Niles, and Kathy Clark and the many volunteers have paid off. Their legacy will live on with the osprey as they continue to thrive in the most densely populated state in the United States.

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