Osprey Nesting Season Is Underway

May 09, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill An osprey nest in Barnegat Light.

Ospreys have returned to New Jersey, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is ready for them. As CWF Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst explained, despite challenging weather in early spring, he and others made repairs – including nestbox and predator guard replacements and platform bracing, or straightening – to more than a dozen nests. “We always ask for input from the public if they see any nests that are in need of repair since we normally do not visit nest sites more than once a year,” he pointed out.

Throughout the rest of spring, and during summer, CWF plans to utilize a drone to survey nests inside the Great Bay Boulevard Wildlife Management Area and a few other areas along the coast, said Wurst. “We hope to use this growing technology to help expand our survey efforts and reach nests that can’t be reached with an extension ladder, like nests on utility poles,” he stated. “We also hope to show that this type of technology, if used appropriately, can reduce the amount of disturbance that we cause at nests while conducting nest surveys.”

Also this year, Conserve Wildlife is putting out a call for “Eagle Scout projects to help us to ‘Blitz’ all watersheds throughout the state over the next one to two years – during the non-breeding season – to help clean out nests and strengthen with stainless hardware,” said Wurst. Anyone interested in helping can email ben.wurst@conservewildlifenj.org.

CWF also hopes the community will help with an upcoming effort to raise funds for a new boat dedicated for use by the New Jersey Osprey Project to continue to manage nesting platforms and monitor nests. “Over the past 10-plus years the osprey population and our role in managing them has grown,” Wurst explained. “While we enjoy a close working relationship with N.J. Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, we no longer are able to use the boat needed to access large areas of the coast to survey nests from Point Pleasant to Atlantic City and beyond.

“We’ve used it to conduct post-severe weather surveys to rescue young ospreys that have fallen to the ground. It has been an essential tool to help install over 175 osprey platforms and has transported well over 200 project supporters and volunteers. Its solid hull has allowed us to get out, and back, in inclement weather.”

Wurst added, “We all know the value of ospreys in our coastal ecosystems, so without closely monitoring them now and in the future, we might miss documenting new and emerging threats to the health of our aquatic ecosystems. We hope to launch the fundraising campaign in the next month and purchase a boat before mid-summer osprey surveys begin.”

For more information on CWF’s work with ospreys, visit conservewildlifenj.org.

— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch


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