Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Jamaica Bay Osprey Being Tracked

One of the male Ospreys that nest at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York, is now wearing a satellite transmitter that will report its movements around the refuge and during migration.

On Tuesday morning, the banding team first startled a pair of ospreys off their nest, leaving behind four speckled eggs. The team then put a large mesh net over the eggs. The female bird flew back and became entangled in the net, and the team removed her and held her out of her mate’s view. When the male returned to the nest, he was captured and taken to the visitors’ center. The female, meanwhile, was released and returned to the nest within a minute.

There, Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society, who serves as the Jamaica Bay guardian, held the osprey still while Bob Kennedy, a prominent ornithologist enlisted by the conservancy, carefully sewed the harness — a kind of raptor backpack — that held the solar-powered transmitter, about the size of a pack of gum, on the bird’s back.

“He’s been a very good sport,” Mr. Kennedy said after the job was done, carrying the male bird back to the bay, where he was released.

Relatively few ospreys have been banded with satellite transmitters across the country, partly because the tags are expensive. The equipment alone can cost $4,000, Mr. Kennedy said, and there is a $50 monthly fee for the data downloads. Coleman P. Burke, a board director of the harbor conservancy, provided a grant to cover the expense of the Jamaica Bay operation. He had followed two other ospreys that Mr. Kennedy had helped band using GPS on Nantucket in the past few years. 
Birders will be able to follow this Osprey's movements via a website, Unfortunately the site will not be online until June