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OspreyTrax 20 March 2014

Osprey News

Migration is on - Edwin leads the pack
World Osprey Week
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Website Launched

The new site is up and running at Follow the birds with interactive maps and read more details of their travels there. Details below.

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Heading home

Migration is picking up.

     The hawk-watching sites are reporting a trickle of Ospreys on the East Coast, a stronger flow down in Texas, and the first birds have appeared at nests in the still rather cold northeast. My guess is that these early arrivals are birds that did not migrate all the way to South America, but wintered in the southeastern US. 

Cell-tower (GSM) Birds

   The first bird back to Florida was Edwin, a male from Fishers Island, NY, who is wearing a cell-tower (GSM) transmitter. He had disappeared in southern Venezuela on 29 Sept. With GSM birds that "disappear" we hope that they've just moved somewhere out of range of cell towers. This was the case with Edwin. We heard from him again on 8 March when he was close enough to a cell tower to download data. The first download suggested that he had wintered in the llanos of Venezuela. But as we got more data from him, we learned that he spent the winter on the Amazon River in Brazil. He started north on 17 Feb, the earliest we've ever had a tagged bird begin the spring migration.

     Nick, another GSM bird, left his Colombian fishing grounds in the Magdalena River valley and started his migration back to the Chesapeake Bay on March 16th.

    Woody (Chesapeake Bay) and DJ (Martha's Vineyard) have not started north yet. Tango (Chesapeake Bay) and Icarius (Martha's Vineyard) have been "dark" since mid-February (last signals 18 Feb and 8 Feb, respectively). I wasn't concerned at first, as I just hoped (and still do) that they're heading north but haven't found cell towers. Now I'm getting nervous about them. And there's Quin (Chesapeake Bay), who dropped out of contact back in the fall while still in FL. I'm not betting that we'll see him back, but it's possible. In 2012 we had two GSM birds stop transmitting in Virginia in September and only heard back from one of them in the middle of March the next year.

Satellite Birds

In the PTT (satellite tagged) flock, we have three birds on the wing. Belle (Martha's Vineyard 2010 juvenile) got her earliest start this year, leaving the Rio Madeira on 14 March. In her first trip north in 2012, she left on 13 April. The next year she headed home on 25 March. She crossed the Amazon on the 16th and the Rio Negro on the 17th. On the 18th she was in northern Brazil just short of the Venezuelan border.

Donovan (NH) left Venezuela on 10 March and is probably in Florida now (20 March). The word from New Hampshire is that he shouldn't hurry--there's 2 feet of ice on the ponds up where he's headed and it's not warming up!

Ron (DC) has spent the winter down on the Amazon River. He
started north on the 19th of March.

Snowy (Martha's Vineyard 2011 juvenile) is hunkered down in the swamp in Cuba where he spent a month or so on his way north this spring. Rodney (DC adult male) is still on his wintering range in Venezuela as is North Fork Bob (Long Island). In previous years, Bob left on the 15th, the 20th and 21st, so I suspect we'll see him on the move when he next uploads data. Sr. Bones' (Nantucket) radio went on the fritz right as he was arriving at his mountain home in Venezuela in the fall. We got an occasional signal from him early in the winter. I think he'll be home this spring. Maybe this year we'll have better luck trapping him to get the radio back.

World Osprey Week - 24-28 March

   Our colleagues at the Rutland Water Osprey project have initiated a collaborative project linking Osprey researchers and school groups along the flyways of European and North American Ospreys. They're signing up schools (the markers on the map below) to participate in a website that links kids from different schools along the flyways. The three birds that they're following on our side of the Atlantic are Belle from Martha's Vineyard, North Fork Bob from Long Island, and Donovan from NH. The website offers lesson plans to use our Ospreys in classroom activities focused on the science of migration. Classes registered with the site can share their experiences with Ospreys with other classes along the migratory routes of our birds. Get details on the project and how your schools can participate. 

Get your kids' schools involved! 

For new subscribers

     I've seen a steady trickle of new subscribers to these updates, so for those new to this particular corner of the Osprey universe, there is an older site where you can browse 14 years' worth of maps, including the early maps for several of the birds on this site. On the new site you will find a description of the technology of tracking and three master maps that are automatically updated every six hours. One is for the eight adults with satellite tags (PTTs), the second for the eight adults with cell-tower transmitters (GTTs), and the third for our eight juveniles, all of whom are carrying PTTs.
     Below each map I've got a summary of who's going where. You can zoom in and out on these maps. Clicking on any path will get the bird's colored dot to that point. Hovering over the dot will identify it, clicking on it will bring up the time and date info. If you slide the dot along the bird's track, all the other birds' dots will move to where they were when your target bird was wherever you have it on its track.
     A few individual maps are up. If you see a bird's name underlined in the list beside the interactive maps, it has a map.
    Because the maps are automatically updated, you can check in whenever you're curious about what our flock of 24 Ospreys is doing. (No one has ever followed this many Ospreys in the same year.) The best time to check is when cold fronts move in. They usually have strong winds from the north, which is just what our birds want to help them on their way.

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