N.J. osprey population continues to grow, survey finds

    The New Jersey osprey comeback story added another happy chapter in 2015, a study released by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) of New Jersey finds. 

    Highlights of the 2015 Osprey Report, which provides the number of nesting pairs, active nests, and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey, include 534 active osprey nests (up from 420 in 2014) and nearly 600 pairs (up from 567 in 2014).

    Of those, 423 known-outcome nests fledged, or produced birds able to fly, an average of 1.74 young per active nest, and nearly 80% of the population was surveyed. The surveyors found 31 new nests. 

    “A sample of each major colony is checked and nest outcome data are used to determine how well our ospreys are faring,” said CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst. “In general, New Jersey ospreys are doing quite well, continuing a trend that began five years ago.”

    Only 50 osprey pairs remained in the state during the early 1970s. 

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWF biologists, and dedicated volunteers collected the data between late June and early July. 

    From the Meadowlands south to Cape May and west along the Delaware Bay, 432 young were banded by volunteers and staff with United States Geological Survey leg bands for future tracking, according to the report. 

    [Related: In Barnegat Bay’s Sedge Islands, ospreys reign]

    “Ospreys are an important indicator of the health of our coastal ecosystems, so it is important to track the health of their population. Their continuing recovery is a very promising sign for our estuaries and the fish and other wildlife that depend on clean water to survive,” said CWF Executive Director David Wheeler.

    “Today, no visit to a coastal waterfront would be the same without the magnificent sighting of an osprey soaring above or crashing down to the water’s surface for a fish,” he said. 

    The Friends of Island Beach State Park organization is currently fundraising to replace its osprey cam in the state park. Click here for more information. 

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.