Rammie’s tracking north
Our transmitter-carrying osprey Rammie checked in yesterday from Savannah, Georgia. He’s about 850 miles from home (Westport, MA). Depending on weather, he will probably arrive home in about five days. No word from Bridger since March 15th.
Check out Rob Bierregaard’s site here.
Rob Bierregaard’s Osprey Tracking
Allens Pond volunteer David Cole reported that, as of March 18, there are 12 osprey on the West Branch, 4 pair and 4 singles. On March 14, David also reported what could be the first sighting of the season: Hudson and his mate are back on their platform ready to start a new brood. The two osprey carrying transmitters since last May (Bridger & Rammie) are on their way back north, and expected to arrive on their East Branch platforms on or just after Easter. The image above shows the migration and wintering grounds of the osprey wearing transmitters. Here is Rob Bierregaard’s report on the Westport osprey among the other birds he is tracking:
Bridger, one of the two adult males from the Westport River outfitted with cell-tower GSM transmitters, rather miraculously found on his way south a couple of cell towers deep in the Amazon and sent us data for most of his travel to those points. Now he’s heading home and found another tower in NW Brazilian Amazonia, so we know what he did over the winter, [way down near Paraguay, on the Brazilian side of the border with Bolivia]. We just (17 March) heard from his neighbor, Rammie, so we now also know where he spent the winter–in a very small area in Venezuela. He is on his way home, too.
You can read more on Rob Bierregaard’s website here.
Here’s an update from Rob Bierregaard, Distinguished Visiting Research Professor at UNC Charlotte:
Migration has started: Ospreys are beginning to show up at the spring hawkwatch sites, and a few very early birds are already on their nests in the Chesapeake and points south. I suspect that those really early birds didn’t do the whole migration down to South America but probably spent the winter along the southeast coast. No movement from our birds yet.
Project Osprey Watch: Bryan Watts at the Center for Conservation Biology has launched an Osprey nest database called Project Osprey Watch. It’s a citizen science project that already has 840 participants watching over 1500 Osprey nests across North America–and even some in Europe. I know a lot of people on this mailing list have nests near and dear to them. I’d like to encourage everyone who knows about an Osprey nest to register with the program and add your observations to what is a fast-growing and very useful set of data. Check it out. It’s easy, fun, and you’ll be making an important contribution: http://www.osprey-watch.org/
You can support osprey through Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary:
Allens Pond Osprey Program
1280 Horseneck Road
Westport, MA 02790
Sponsor an osprey platform! Call to find out more information: 508-636-2437.
Bridger had been MIA for a spell. We learned of his whereabouts thanks to a transmission from a cell tower in a rural part of South America! To figure out his track between his last North American transmission and this one, Rob Bierregaard says, “we may get the data filled in on a future download or we may need to wait until we retrap him and then download all the data stored on his unit.” In any case, it’s an impressive trip! More on Rammie & Bridger’s migrations on Dr. Bierragaard’s website here.
Migration is widely thought to be a survival behavior that has adapted within a certain species in order to find ample food and to survive cold winter temperatures throughout the calendar year. Interestingly, Osprey in the southern United States do not migrate, likely because there is no need to do so. Osprey from Massachusetts would not be able to survive our winter as cold temperatures cause waterways to freeze and many of the Osprey’s food items (Herring, Bluefish and Bass) also migrate southward to warmer waters. Over the last few years the adult male Osprey we have tracked have been shown to use the Atlantic flyway as they travel southward past North America. An adult Osprey that is ready to migrate may wait for a day with a strong North wind to assist with the trip. Migratory raptors are able to take advantage of high-level winds which often carry them long distances without expending much energy. If you visit any local hawk watch station this fall on a good day, you will see Osprey migrating along with Bald Eagles, Broad-winged Hawks, and Turkey Vultures to name a few. One of the most perilous components of this southerly migratory route is the tropical storms that frequent this area in the late summer. Once an adult Osprey makes it to its winter home they will face other challenges. With different cultures and customs in South America and the Caribbean, Osprey are often seen as pests. Hopefully Bridger and Rammie will choose areas with little human-use!
Click here to learn more about Dr. Bierregaard’s tracking of the 2012 osprey migration: http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard/migration12.htm
Ornithologist Dr. Rob Bierregaard shared with us an interesting finding from the new transmitter program: “One new insight we’re getting from the [new transmitters which send us data via cellphone towers instead of satellites] is where our birds are spending the night. Both males are frequently sleeping far from home… Bridger about 5 miles NW of his nest and Rammie about 7 miles due north up on the East Fork. This is something we never knew about and couldn’t know from the old GPS data because the GPS units are only on for 12 hours a day–so we had no nighttime data… Note also that Rammie made a big overnight trip up towards Boston. He went up that way a second time, but did not overnight. Neither bird slept away from the nest for most of July. Heightened protectiveness as the young get close to fledging?”
Click here to learn more about Dr. Bierregaard’s work with osprey.
image by Jeffrey Colt
From our Osprey Monitor Pete Deichmann: On Sunday August 5th, David Cole, a dedicated and gracious volunteer received information that there was an injured Osprey fledgling out on the Westport River. It seemed that this Osprey tried to fly too early and ended up in the water. Luckily someone was nearby who was able to fish the Osprey out of the water and carry it safely up on to the marsh. The bird somehow had one of it’s talons tangled up in its wing feathers but the rescuer was able to free its wing before placing it next to one of the nesting platforms. David and I went out about an hour later to check the status of the bird and make sure it was still healthy. Luckily this particular bird had been banded earlier this season and we were able to locate which nest it came from. (importance of banding!!!) We wrangled up the Osprey and drove it back to its nest where 1 adult and 2 other fledglings were waiting. We received reports from the gentleman who made the initial rescue that a couple days later all 3 fledglings and 1 adult were still at the nest, and most importantly, after passing by them they all took to the air and were flying so the bird was healthy and happy. Yet another successful Osprey rescue this season!
A note about the photo. The adult is top right. You’ll notice the wing feathers of the juveniles all have a whitish tip so they look speckled and the adult looks clean and black.
Check out the front page article in Thursday’s Westport Shorelines!
Anna Salinas and Pete Deichmann
Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary Osprey Monitors
Hello fellow Osprey enthusiast! My name is Anna Salinas and I am one of this year’s Osprey monitors for Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. I am happy to say that I am in my second field season here at the pond and have had the great fortune of carrying on the Osprey project and Coastal Waterbird Project with the help of Peter Deichmann. I am originally from Texas and have a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife and Conservation Science and a Master of Science. Over the past few years I have worked in Texas, Wyoming and now here in Massachusetts. All of my work experience has been avian related and has prepared me for monitoring the Osprey.
Pete Deichmann received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. He is from St. Louis, Missouri and has been conducting avian related research for the last 3 years. He has worked in Wisconsin, Wyoming, and South America.
We hope that everyone is as excited about the season as we are and we look forward to reporting back with excellent news throughout the season!
The Osprey are officially on the move! Many of our chicks have fledged and are starting to fly and venture from platform to platform. As with many other birds the Osprey are also starting to get ready to make their journey south and as soon as this is done, the Osprey team will start to make any and all platform repairs (volunteers are always welcomed to assist). As for now the Osprey monitor’s have officially finished banding Osprey chicks for this season but they are still gathering end of the season data for analysis.
The latest news for Osprey involves another rescue! Last Thursday, Pete, Luke and Anna were banding more chicks on the east branch of the Westport River when they approached their final nest of the day. As Luke went up the ladder to retrieve the chick he noticed that he could not lift the chick out of the nest. Upon further inspection Luke noticed that the chick’s neck was wrapped around a piece of rope that was embedded in the nest and it could not raise its head more than 6 inches off the nest. Pete quickly handed his pocket knife to Luke and guided him through releasing the bird. Luke was able to successfully cut the bird free from the nest but then Pete had to get to work on carefully cutting the rope away from the chick’s neck and wing. After finally getting all of the rope off, the guys banded the otherwise healthy bird and put it back in the nest. We do not know how long this chick was in a compromised position but we noticed that it had food in its crop so it was still being fed by the adults.
This story is a good opportunity for people to see how much they impact these Osprey. The smallest rope or plastic bag could mean death for these chicks. If we hadn’t been monitoring these platforms this bird would not have survived.
Here is a picture of the rope from the rope that was in the nest: