Greenbelt Reports Status of Osprey in Essex County Large Bird of Prey Thriving in Recent Years

Volunteer “citizen scientists,” working in support of Essex County Greenbelt’s Osprey Program, monitored Osprey nests in 10 communities and submitted their observations, helping Greenbelt confirm that 26 pairs of Osprey nested across Essex County in 2013, as compared to 18 pairs in 2012; 14 pairs in 2011 and 11 pairs in 2010.

The 26 pairs are the most observed since Greenbelt started helping the Osprey population in 2007 by building and repairing nesting platforms. “Osprey are really thriving in Essex County, and with the work of so many volunteers, we are collecting excellent information that is helping us understand where they are nesting and whether they are successfully fledging young,” said Greenbelt Director of Stewardship Dave Rimmer, who also directs the Osprey Program.

Rimmer released these findings in a full report entitled Status of Osprey Breeding Activity in Essex County Massachusetts 2013, available on the Greenbelt website, ecga.org.

Some 200 volunteers and Greenbelt staffers filed online reports of Osprey nesting activity from Salem to Salisbury, starting in April right though to September.

Greenbelt expanded its Osprey Program in 2013, adding a webcam on a nest at its Cox Reservation headquarters. The Osprey Program also established a more comprehensive nest monitoring effort; installed a new Osprey platform and repaired others; installed two outdoor kiosks with detailed information about Osprey biology and conservation, and collaborated with Dr. Rob Bierregaard of UNC, Charlotte, to track two fledgling Osprey by satellite to study Osprey migration.

But the highlight of 2013 was streaming webcam video from the nesting platform at the Cox Reservation, which went directly to the Greenbelt website. Rimmer credits the webcam for building new public awareness and support for Osprey conservation in Essex County. Video of Allyn and Ethel, the nesting Osprey pair at the Cox Reservation, their eggs and chick, was viewed more than 60,000 times on Greenbelt’s website and facebook page, from as far as away as a family in France and a class of school children in Florida. The webcam will go live again sometime in March, when the Osprey pair is expected to return.

On Greenbelt’s website, ecga.org, you can view the full report of the Status of Osprey in Essex County in 2013, see a map showing Osprey nest locations in Essex County, as well as view the current flight path of Whit, the one surviving fledgling from a Gloucester nesting platform. Dr. Bierregaard tagged Whit last August so a satellite could follow his travels as he migrated from Gloucester to Venezuela.

Rimmer says, “Osprey are such a beautiful and captivating bird of prey, while also a strong indicator of the health of our coastal ecosystem. We have been overwhelmed by the public interest in Osprey activity, especially the steaming webcam video that was viewed worldwide by so many. All of us at Greenbelt are eagerly anticipating the return of Osprey to the area this year in March and April, and we are excited to once again engage as many people as we can with our programs.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for Greenbelt’s Osprey Program should contact Dave Rimmer at dwr@ecga.org.

Eben 07-24-12

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