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Jump to the 2012
Scroll down for links to maps, updates on old
birds, and bios for this year's class.
Spring migration (map below) was uneventful--a welcome relief
after last fall! Our boys were late starters, but the adults (Sr. Bones, North
Fork Bob, and Sanford) all returned to their breeding territories. Buck, our 2-yr
old had been bouncing around between North Carolina and New Hampshire (!) since his
arrival in North Carolina back in April. He finally (Aug 13th) made it back to
his natal area.
Fall migration was another bad one.
Five of our migrants got across the Caribbean but we lost two of those shortly
after they made the crossing.
This is a nerve-wracking time of year as the birds head for Cuba and Hispaniola,
where they are too often shot, and then have to cross the Caribbean in the midst
of hurricane season. A synopsis of the situation at the moment is presented
below the map at right.
Subscribe to the email "New Maps Alert" list.
Join the new Osprey Migration Google Group forum.
Visit the Westport
River Osprey website.
2011 Osprey cams
Really amazing videos of
Why Ospreys hate
What one young Osprey
thinks of the nestcam that's gives him no
privacy! (Don't miss this one!)
27 Dec 2011.
The fall turned into another nightmare migration
season. We lost 4 of our 8 migrating birds in
about 10 days and another some weeks later.
surviving males are back on their wintering
waters, and our lone juvenile, Snowy, is
temporarily at least, settled down in northern
Venezuela. We expect him to explore some more
over the course of the winter.
Katbird, an adult male from Martha's Vineyard, flew out
over the Caribbean into some nasty weather. We
have lost his signal, so we presume he didn't
make the crossing. Saco (NH youngster) arrived
in Cuba and worked her way to Haiti. She took
off over the Caribbean and was also lost at sea.
Five birds made it safely across the Caribbean to Colombia
or Venezuela. These were Henrietta, a
juvenile tagged at our old faithful nest on Lake Tashmoo
on Martha's Vineyard, Sr. Bones, an adult male from Nantucket, and
North-Fork Bob from Long Island, Buck, returning
for his second stay in Venezuela, and Snowy, a
juvenile from Martha's Vineyard. At the start of
her migration, Henrietta took on the
Atlantic and crossed our corner of it in less
than two full days. After crossing the
Caribbean, she settled down in
Colombia for a couple of weeks and then started
moving again. Her transmitter stopped moving and
signaling, so she's either dead or dropped her
transmitter. Our adult male from
Nantucket, Sr. Bones, took the safer, adult
route south down the U.S east coast and is now back at his wintering
grounds in Colombia. Bob just got to Colombia
and moseyed his way back to his wintering waters
in Venezuela. Buck (SC sub-adult from '09) started out over the Caribbean twice and
retreated both times to the D.R. He finally crossed
the Caribbean and got back to his winter home,
but either died or last his transmitter a few
weeks later. Snowy (MVY bird of the year)
settled down for a while in the D.R. but is now
pushing south through Venezuela.
our adult male from the Westport River got the
"last one out, turn off the lights" award for
this year. He left last year on Oct 2nd. This
year he took off on the 12th, so he was 10 days
behind schedule. About 10 days later he pretty much dropped out of
the sky just east of Orlando. We've recovered the transmitter from his
body. Very mysterious to lose a bird like this.
Strange as it sounds, he may have had a heart
to go straight to a bird's maps or bios. Names in hot pink are
newly updated (data through 6 March 2012).
(More details on the project below).
'10 Juvenile - Martha's Vineyard/MA
- Way down in Brazil.
Updated 5 March 2012.
'10 Juvenile - Cape Henlopen/DE
- Deep in the Brazilian
Updated 5 March 2012.
Young male tagged post fledging on the
Chappaquiddick shores of Katama Bay.
One of two healthy young
at a nest that has not been very productive over
He's down in Venezuela, temporarily(?) settled
Updated 6 March 2012.
'09 Juvenile - Great Falls/SC
'10 Map -
Just about to cross the
Perhaps our most
interesting bird to date. Updated
21 Nov 2011
'10 Adult male - West branch Westport River/MA
- Map -
Now using Hudson's
transmitter. Nest failed. wintered in the
Bahamas. Back on the Westport River-did not
breed in 2011.
Maps show month-by-month comparisons of 2010 and
Updated 25 Oct 2011.
Adult male - Nantucket/MA
- Map -
Nest failed in 2010. Began
migration on 10 Sept. Wintered in Colombia. Now
back on his wintering grounds 33 days after
19 Oct 2011.
Adult male - Mattituck, Long Island/NY.
Amazonian Venezuela. He's now in Venezuela
heading towards his winter home.
Updated 5 Jan 2012.
Adult male - Mattituck, Long Island/NY.
Died when hit by a bus a
month after we tagged him on Long Island's North
Updated 21 June 2011.(last
Adult male - Chappaquiddick Island, Martha's
Nest failed after
satellite transmitter deployment.
Signal lost over the Caribbean in some nasty weather
Updated 25 Oct 2011.
Young female tagged prior to fledging at the
Ayers Island Reservoir hydroelectric dam.
One of three young at a
nest on the Pemigewasset River in central New
Hampshire. Lost crossing the Caribbean.
31 Oct 2011.
Young female tagged at our favorite nest on Lake
Tashmoo on Martha's Vineyard's north shore.
Hatched on May 24th, took
her first voluntary flight on July 27th. She
made it to Colombia and then was lost. No idea
on what happened to her.
Overview of our
This is the 12th year of our satellite
tracking and the 14th year that we have been
following the Osprey population on Martha's
Vineyard. The "we" here includes lots of friends
and colleagues, but most importantly Dick
Jennings. Dick "retired" to Martha's Vineyard
where he is probably busier now than he was when
he was earning a paycheck. He is a naturalist
for the Trustees of Reservations and my
right-hand man in all Vineyard Osprey trapping
At the end of the 2011 trapping season we had trapped
72 Ospreys and satellite tagged 49 of that total
(35 young and 14 adults). Over the 14 years of
our censuses, we've counted over 900 nesting attempts
and watched more than 1,000 young fledge!
to details of our census work (a
couple of years out of date, but the big picture
Tagging new birds in 2011
Adults- We tagged only 2 of the
5 adult males we planned on tagging this spring,
"Tucker" in Mattituck on Long Island's North
Fork, and "Katbird" on the shores of Katama
Bay on Martha's Vineyard.
Juveniles- I keep trying to
wrap up the studies of juvenile migration, but
somehow can't quite kick the habit. We
tagged four this year.
As 2011 began, we were down to only
six surviving birds--Sr. Bones, Sanford, North Fork Bob (all
adult males), Buck (an almost 2-yr old from South Carolina),
and Belle and Thatch. Sr. Bones is raising his first young (his
nest failed in previous years). Sanford and
North Fork Bob did not breed for reasons unknown. Buck bounced around the northeastern
states from Virginia to New England until finally getting back to South Carolina
more than 80 days and 7,000 miles later (all of these miles were in the states
after getting to North Carolina!). Belle and
Thatch seem to have settled down in Brazil. They both did quite a bit of
exploring in their first six months on the wintering grounds.
Who's Who - Bios of the Class
of '11 (newly tagged birds)
- This Long Island male was trapped at the
nest where we caught North Fork Bob last year. Last summer we were trying to catch a young
at a nest in Mattituck, on Long Island's North Fork, when an adult male landed
in the nest intent on dining on the fish we had laid out as bait. We didn't know
he was not the adult male at that nest until we looked at his satellite data
three days later.
This year, we set our noose cage over two just-hatched
chicks and an egg. We caught the female in just a few minutes and then Tucker
within another half hour.
Sadly, Tucker was killed when he flew into a bus close
to his home. My colleague Alan Poole spent some time on the North Fork of Long
Island back in the mid-70s. He remembers the stretch of road where Tucker died
as being really dangerous for Ospreys. Almost every year they had a fatality
there. Tucker's mate has been doing the single parent thing successfully and has
at least 1 young still going in the nest.
Katbird - A male
on Chappaquiddick Island at the east end of Martha's Vineyard.
We caught this male at the first nest we tried this year on
the Chappaquiddick shore of Katama Bay on Martha's Vineyard.
Shortly after we arrived at the nest, the male came in with the last half of a
good sized fish. The female took it from him and gorged on it while he sat on
the eggs. After she had finished her meal, we placed the noose cage over the
three eggs in the nest. We caught the male within about 20 minutes.
Sadly, "Katbird" did not respond well to the tagging
and left the nest for 3 days, which resulted in a nest failure. This is the
first time I've experienced or even heard about such a reaction. It was a
sobering reminder that our studies of wildlife is not without impact, and we
must weigh the benefits of our work against the cost to the species we are
While we did lose a nesting season for this pair, both
adults are fine, and if they both make it through the migration to South America
and back, they should be back at it next spring. One thing we need to keep in
mind is that an Osprey can breed for well over a decade, so one lost brood is
not a major setback.
Trapping Expedition - New Hampshire
tagged 2 young at the Ayers Island Hydroelectric Plant on 12 July (and 2 more on
Martha's Vineyard on the 15th and 16th-see below).
|The easy way to grab Pemi
| Iain MacLeod,
director of the
Squam Lakes Natural Science
Center in New Hampshire's lakes
region (the middle of the state), contacted me
last year about beginning a satellite telemetry
study of New Hampshire's Ospreys. Iain's Osprey
roots run deep--back to his work in his native
Scotland a couple of decades ago, where he
worked with Scotland's Osprey Guru
(Roy's website is fascinating). Iain has been on
our side of the pond for many years now.
When he learned of our tracking work, he was intrigued
and, after I said I'd love to expand our studies
to inland-fishing Ospreys, he pulled together
funding for some transmitters.
An earlier trip to New Hampshire back in May to trap
adult males was frustratingly fruitless. We only
had 2 nests to work with, and trapping adult
males is never a sure thing. When we were
unsuccessful at trapping males, we planned to
tag 2 young at each of the 2 target nests.
Continuing our run of bad luck, one of the two
nests blew down in a wild windstorm, so we were
left with only one nest to work with.
I went back up to New Hampshire on 12 July and tagged
two of the three young in the nest at the Ayers
Watch these birds
in their nest on a live stream webcam.
More photos of
the tagging operation.
A video about
||Saco, a female named for the Saco River, was
the oldest of the three young in the nest. She
was pretty calm through the tagging process.
[My Brazilian friends will get a chuckle out of
||Pemi, named for the Pemigewasset River (I
love New England place names), was the second
hatched--maybe a day or two younger than his big
sister. He was feisty from the start. The arm
that Pemi is munching on belongs to Chris
Martin, Senior Biologist at New Hampshire
Audubon, who was lending a hand (and arm) during
the tagging process.
The feisty Pemi (left) and his cool big sister
Saco (right) ready to go back to their nest. The
hoods keep them calm during the tagging process.
July Trapping Expedition -
|Lake Tashmoo -
|15 July - We returned to
our favorite nest for tagging juveniles. We like
it because it's a very productive nest and we
can reach it with our ladder. This is the site
where we tagged our very first youngster, Tasha,
back in 2004. Subsequently, we tagged Meadow
(who went to Lake Superior before migrating to
the D.R.), and Belle, who is now down on the
This bird, Henrietta, was one of two in the nest. The
elder youngster flew as we put up the ladder. It was
obviously ready to go, and I suspect what we saw
was not its first flight. Henrietta wasn't quite
ready to go but decided that I was scarier than
her first flight, so she took off across the
marsh. Her flight was pretty good, but her
landing--not so much. I was able to grab her on
the ground, tag her and pop her back in the
She was 7 weeks old, give or take a day. We usually
figure fledging at about seven and a half weeks,
so she was probably had 3 or 4 days before she
would have gone of her own volition. Subsequent
data from her transmitter show that she's out
flying about on her own now.
|| Back in May, we tried to
trap the adult male here, but were unsuccessful
(almost nothing went right on that trip). We
did, however, catch the female and in the
process discovered that she is a 15 year old
bird banded as a nestling over on the Westport
River on the SE Massachusetts coast back in 1996. In an
amazing coincidence, I was over on the Westport
River the very next day trapping Ospreys with
Alan Poole. We caught another female that
had been banded the same year in the same
colony. Their band numbers were 64 digits apart.
The picture here was taken on 26
May when we tried trapping the adult male. The
two young were probably 2 and 4 days old at the
time. They had a sibling that did not make it
out of the egg. It was crushed somehow. This may
have happened when the adults were coming or
going from the nest, or perhaps a neighboring
adult landed in the nest and there was a
struggle. This does happen as can be seen in
this amazing video
of a male Osprey getting cold-conked when he
happened to be in the middle of a fight between
2 females. I took him about 4 minutes to regain
|Katama Bay -
|17 July - We caught this
bird my "old-fashioned" way, with a noose carpet
after the young had fledged. I prefer tagging
young this way because I know the birds are full
grown and fairly muscled up, so fitting the
harness is not so much of a guessing game as it
is with pre-fledglings.
We arrived around 8AM and found an empty nest. We put
two bunker, or menhaden--a favorite on the
Osprey menu--in the nest with the noose carpet
over them. About 40 minutes later we saw a
youngster fly over the nest. We followed his
flight until he landed with his sibling on a
nearby chimney, which we hadn't noticed. 10
minutes later, one of the young landed on the
Not infrequently, when trying to trap one of the young
we wind up catching one of the adults--usually
the female. In this case, Snowy was on the
carpet, but hadn't yet gotten his feet tangled
in the nooses, when his mother alit on the
carpet. She was caught right away. We waited a
bit to make sure the young was caught, and once
we saw that the young was in the carpet, I went
up and extracted the two birds from the trap.
||Snowy's piercing orange stare lets it be
known that he is none too pleased with this
whole operation. When I let him go, he flew
right back up to the nest and settled down as if
nothing had happened.
Snowy's name comes from the location of his nest--at
Snow Point on Katama Bay.
||Dick Jennings and I after another successful
trapping expedition. Snowy (standing in the nest
behind us) is the 35th juvenile that we have
tagged since starting this part of our research
back in 2004.
1 May 2011.
After the disastrous fall of 2010, we had a
pleasantly quiet winter and a safe return of all
our adults to their breeding grounds. After the
males got home, our one bird from the class of
'09, Buck, made his first return to the U.S.
after 18 months down in Venezuela. He took a
rather unconventional route and has yet to find
his way back to his 'hood down in South
Carolina. His travels from Virginia to New
Hampshire and back and again and back again are
Last fall, the adult males all settled into
remarkably small winter ranges (some not much
more than a mile across). Our two youngsters,
Belle and Thatch, are doing the typical
teenage-Osprey thing--they find a spot, stay
there for a while, and then go out on a road
trip to look for greener (fishier) pastures. The
adults are on a tighter schedule, and I was
surprised that only one was on the move as of 22
March. North Fork Bob left his spot in
Venezuela on the 20th, and just 4 days later
Sanford left the Bahamas and Senhor Bones left
his mountain hideout both on 24 March.
Bones and Bob got past all the dangers of
the Caribbean and made their way up the east
coast back to their nesting territories. Sanford
gave us a bit of a scare when he was blown off
the coast of Georgia by a nasty weather front.
Fortunately, he was able to fight his way back
to the coast and settled down to wait it out in
Savannah. A week later he was back on the
Each bird's target destination (their
nests) is indicated on the map, color coded to
that bird's track.
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