Last Wednesday, May 15th, I returned to Jamaica Bay to check in on Coley and to begin the second phase of our Jamaica Bay Osprey Research Program with a new male. I am happy to report that I saw Coley on his perch above the nest and his mate eating a fish and offering tiny pieces to one or more newly hatched young. A great family setting and the end of a year-long learning adventure. Good Luck Coley – Live Long and Prosper!
On to the new story. Our field team of Jamaica Bay Guardian Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society, Park Naturalist Colleen Sorbera of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Blanca Begert of New York Harbor Conservancy, our web designer Sheryl Eisenberg of Mixit Productions and yours truly headed out by boat to Yellow Bar Hassock in Jamaica Bay to attempt to catch and place Coley’s satellite transmitter on a new male. Happily, we caught the female within minutes and after several almost captures, we caught the male.
Once we had him in hand, we immediately noticed that he was banded with a US Fish & Wildlife aluminum band numbered 788-49081, which meant that he had probably been banded as a nestling and we could determine his age and origin – very important information for our research effort.
Here is what we have learned about our new guy:
- He was banded as a nestling on July 8th, 2008 so he is 5 years old. We know from banding data that one Osprey lived for at least 25 years and 2 months so he is a fairly young Osprey.
- He was likely about 5 to 6 weeks old when banded, so I guess that his hatching date was on June 1st, 2008.
- He was banded by National Parks Naturalist Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, who has been monitoring and banding Ospreys on Sandy Hook, New Jersey for over two decades. Here is her report:
That osprey was banded at the Officer’s Club in Fort Hancock, NJ [part of Gateway National Recreation Area as is Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge]. There was one only 1 chick and 1 infertile egg. The Highlands Fire Department assisted with reaching the nest by using their aerial ladder.
- He is an only child, at least from his parent’s nesting in 2008.
- His hatching nest was actually built on top of the chimney of the Officer’s Club, a large brick building.
- Ospreys, like the White Storks of Europe, often nest on chimneys, and on many man-made structures such as telephone poles, cell towers, channel markers and duck blinds.
- Distance from his hatching nest to his current nest – 12.85 miles. Usually young Ospreys return to nest within 50 miles of their hatching nest.
- This may be his first nesting, as the nest platform was only recently constructed and had not been used before.
- Also, his new nest was not well constructed with minimal nesting material suggesting that this may be the first time that our bird and his mate have nested.
- The nest contained three eggs that were present on the bare wood floor of the platform. Usually Osprey nests have more substance to them and the nest is lined with eel grass or some other soft material.
- His wingspan was 58 inches, and his mate’s wingspan was 60 inches – male Ospreys are smaller than females.
- The nest is located in the center of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on the southeast side of Yellow Bar Hassock, a marsh island. If you are looking toward the northwest with the nest in front of you, the New York skyline and particularly the new Freedom Tower figures prominently on the horizon.
- Movements are very similar to Coley’s staying in Jamaica Bay mostly within a few miles of his nest to fish and possible to roost with an occasional flight to the shores of JFK International.
We will keep the transmitter on our new guy for one year so that we can follow him through this nesting season and during his migrations to and from his wintering grounds. Of course, we have not a clue where that might be.
More as the adventure unfolds.
Coley and our new friend, and Dr. Bob signing off.