Monday, March 21, 2011

Ospreys are back!

Wrapping Up New Nest Installations and Repairs

I've gotten several reports of ospreys in southern and central New Jersey. Reports have come from Sandy Hook, Lavallette, Tuckahoe River, and I've seen an adult on a platform on Great Egg Bay. I can't wait to hear my first male osprey, their calls are unmistakable. The sharp whistles give me goosebumps! They perform courtship displays that are referred to as "sky dances" where they fly in a high undulating flight pattern, often carrying prey or nesting material. They do this to form or strengthen pair bonds to their mates. Listening to their call is my personal "sign of spring" and it's also my signal to finish up with any last minute installations and repairs before they begin to court and lay eggs.

Snags (dead trees) are approaching their life span at the Manasquan Reservoir. © Ben Wurst
As you can imagine I've had a busy March. I began the month by moving a platform in Linwood that was placed improperly. Then I met with staff at the Wetlands Institute to move another platform there that has never been occupied. Then I visited Manasquan Reservoir to inspect a nest tree that broke (where we are working on plans to install a nesting platform) and met with US Army Corps at Fort Monmouth to choose six locations to place platforms on 30' tall utility poles. Since that visit the number has grown to ten sites inside Fort Monmouth. Once all these platforms are installed around 20 nesting platforms will be available to ospreys there!! We hope it will support the growing number of pairs on the Shrewsbury River. 

Uploading a platform to be installed in Ventnor. Image courtesy Mary Lenahan.
Since then I've installed two new platforms for individuals who donated to help support this project. One was installed in Ventnor and the other was installed in Linwood. Both near homes where the nests can be easily monitored for activity and in suitable habitat for ospreys. The remaining nests are slated for installation in the coming weeks. I have one that we're installing tomorrow inside Forsythe NWR because of a donation from Atlantic Audubon. The platform was made partially from salvaged wood from the A.C. Boardwalk (special thanks to Rich B. with Weatherby Corp.).  The rest of the platform installs will occur on Barnegat Bay and at Fort Monmouth.

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