Homeward Bound Soon

Tension is mounting as we expect the migratory trigger in Coley’s brain to engage within the next 7 days, and probably sooner rather than later.  As of 10am Sunday morning Coley is still staying almost exclusively within his small resting area in Bird Marsh in northern Colombia.  I will be reporting more frequently from now on until Coley is safely back in Jamaica Bay. I’m predicting liftoff this Thursday, February 21st, but let me know if you have any ideas when you think he will head north to home.

Here are a few more Q&A about Ospreys and Coley:

How many miles will Coley fly each day during migration?

The distance from Bird Marsh in Colombia to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York is about 2,700 miles.  In the fall, Coley took 17 days to fly this distance, not in a straight flight of course but more or less the fastest and safest route he could take. On average he traveled about 160 miles a day.

What was his shortest daily distance during migration?  His longest?

During his migration south, Coley spent about three days (from the 19th to the 22nd of September) in an area in southeast Cuba resting and probably fishing. During those days he basically did not make any progress toward his winter home.  So his shortest day was probably only a mile or two during that period.

His longest flight however, is easy. At around 9am on September 25th, Coley left Cape Beata in southern Dominican Republic and headed straight south out over the Caribbean Sea.  He landed in Colombia at around 6am on September 26th after flying non-stop through the night over water for over 485 miles in around 20 hours. His average speed on this flight was about 24 to 25 miles per hour.

What are the greatest dangers for Coley as he migrates north?

Basically, there are two major dangers.  The first involves weather.  As he crosses the Caribbean or the Straits of Florida, if he encounters bad weather he could be blown off course, fly into a strong headwind, or get caught in a severe thunderstorm.  Anything that slows his flight and increases the time it takes him to cross the Caribbean/Straits of Florida could drain Coley’s strength or fat reserves (his fuel) and put him at risk.  Worst case, he may have to ditch into the water, or if he did make it to land somewhere, he may be too exhausted to fish to regain his strength.

The second major danger is that he may be shot by humans.  This could happen anywhere during migration, however, he is particularly vulnerable when he fishes in private and commercial fish farms/ponds in the Dominican Republic, Haiti or Cuba.  Many of the farms are owned by local people that live at or near subsistence level, and they do not take kindly to anything or anyone that “steals” their fish.

Do you have any questions about Coley or about Ospreys?  If so, please leave them in the comments.

LEGEND
Bull’s eyes = Osprey’s location every hour.
Lines = Sequence of locations in time (not the actual flight path)

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