Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Osprey Project Report Details Remarkable New Jersey Recovery

Osprey preparing to mate           Photo: Matt Edmonds at en.wikipedia

The nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) and New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) today released the 2016 New Jersey Osprey Project Report highlighting the work performed to monitor and protect the state threatened bird of prey.

Some Highlights:

  • In 2016, 376 known-outcome nests fledged an average of 1.78 young per active nest. That rate has averaged 1.74 in recent years, remaining well above the minimum necessary for a stable population (0.80 young/active nest).
  • The 2016 productivity rate was near the long term average and suggests the population will continue to grow.
  • Forty-two new nests were found this year.
  • A state-wide census will occur in this year.
  • Of the 376 known-outcome nests, 316 were found along the Atlantic Coast and 60 were found on Delaware Bay.
  • A total of 670 young were produced from these known-outcome nests.
  • A total of 361 young were banded by volunteers and biologists with USGS leg bands for future tracking.
  • Population growth remains around 10% since approximately 2009.

The report notes that a total of 515 active nests were documented. A total of 670 young were produced from 376 known-outcome nests, and 361 young were banded by volunteers and staff with USGS leg bands for future tracking. The majority of nests are along the Atlantic Coast, while the most productive nests are located along the Delaware Bayshore (see end of release for report highlights).

“At the beginning of nesting surveys each year, I attempt to speculate on how well ospreys are doing,” stated CWF Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst. “I started this year by simply saying that I’m optimistic for the positive outcome of the nesting season. Well, ospreys made my speculation seem quite dismal. I’m astonished by their continued growth while living in very close proximity to humans. I’m thankful for all support that we receive to help carry out this project to monitor and manage ospreys.”

Ospreys are the quintessential wildlife bioindicators in New Jersey and abroad. The continued monitoring of their population is critical for their long-term conservation and the health of the ecosystems where we live alongside ospreys.

“Only decades ago, ospreys had drastically declined across New Jersey and the nation, which makes their continuing recovery all the more remarkable,” said CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “The ospreys’ expansion speaks both to the improving water quality of our estuaries and rivers, and the dedication and leadership of our State and CWF biologists and volunteers.”

In 2016, CWF continued to band young ospreys produced in Barnegat Bay with a red, alpha-numeric coded auxiliary band. Project RedBand is focused on ospreys that nest in the Barnegat Bay watershed from Point Pleasant to Little Egg Harbor. The main goal of the project is to engage the public in osprey management and conservation along the Jersey Shore. At the same time, while collecting data from re-sightings, biologists will learn about their dispersal, foraging habits, site fidelity, migration routes, and life span. In 2016, 62 red bands were fielded, putting the three-year total at 157. Five red-banded ospreys were re-sighted in 2016.

Over the past decade, CWF has conducted annual nesting surveys for ospreys while working in close partnership with ENSP. These surveys, performed each summer during the peak of their nesting season, cover around 80% of the known population, guiding conservation efforts across the state. The annual surveys would not be possible without the dedication of volunteer osprey banders and citizen scientists who monitor nests and report nesting activity online at www.osprey-watch.org.

Residents can help protect New Jersey's ospreys and all other rare wildlife by supporting the New Jersey Endangered Wildlife Fund when you file your state income tax this year and every year. Simply look for Line 59 on your NJ 1040 income tax return, and check-off for wildlife. Every dollar you donate goes directly to ENSP, enabling biologists to continue their work to restore, conserve and enhance New Jersey's populations of rare species. What's more, your contribution is matched with an equal amount of federal funding, further strengthening efforts to protect hundreds of imperiled species.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife and the habitats they depend on. We carry out our mission by researching and managing rare animal species, restoring habitat, educating New Jersey’s residents, and engaging volunteers in our conservation projects. Since the early 1990’s, CWF scientists and educators have helped conserve and protect a variety of at-risk species of wildlife in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation.


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