Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early Results of Osprey Surveys Are Encouraging

Photo: Ken Connelly  via http://njospreyproject.blogspot.com/
Ospreys are currently listed as a threatened species in New Jersey. They were first listed as endangered in 1974 after the state population declined to only 50 pairs, from over 500 prior to 1950.

As with eagles, ospreys have made a dramatic recovery in New Jersey because of efforts by state biologists with the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) and many volunteers.

Ospreys are predators and so they are considered to be an indicator species. These species are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions and can serve as an indicator of an unhealthy marine ecosystem.

Surveys to monitor the population are conducted in late June and early July at all major nesting colonies from Sandy Hook south along the Atlantic Coast to Cape May and west to Salem County.

In NJ, ospreys almost exclusively nest on man-made structures including platforms designed specifically for them, cell towers, duck blinds, channel markers, and boat lifts.

The surveyors check nest structures for birds and, if the nest is occupied, the number of young is recorded and the young are banded for future tracking with a USGS bird band.

Though the results are preliminary, productivity rates appear to be up for all nesting colonies except for Sedge Island WMA.

For more information and survey results later this fall, see http://www.conservewildlifenj.org and http://njospreyproject.blogspot.com.

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