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    Osprey population hits all-time high in New Jersey, study finds

    Three young osprey wearing red bands in a New Jersey nest. (Photo courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

    Three young osprey wearing red bands in a New Jersey nest. (Photo courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

    The osprey comeback story added another happy chapter in 2014, a study released today by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) of New Jersey finds. 

    Highlights of the 2014 Osprey Report, which provides the number of nesting pairs, active nests, and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey, include 420 active osprey nests (up from 395 in 2013) and 567 pairs (up from 542 in 2013).

    In addition, the study notes that 339 known-outcome nests fledged an average of 2.02 young per active nest (a slight increase from 1.92 in 2013) and 526 young, a new all-time high, were banded by volunteers and staff with United States Geological Survey leg bands for future tracking.

    New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWF biologists, and dedicated volunteers collected the data.

    “The comeback of these magnificent birds continues to inspire us, especially in combination with the parallel recoveries of bald eagles and peregrine falcons,” said David Wheeler, CWF Executive Director. “Ospreys depend on a strong fish population and healthy waters, so they are a strong indicator of our recovering coastal and inland waters in New Jersey.”

    The biologists began marking young ospreys with auxiliary color bands this season in order to engage citizen scientists. 

    “The use of the auxiliary ‘red bands’ will help us learn a lot about the ecology of ospreys nesting on Barnegat Bay,” stated CWF Habitat Program Manager Ben Wurst. “‘Project RedBand’ will also help us engage local communities in osprey conservation and management by encouraging citizens to report re-sightings of banded birds.”

    “We are hopeful that this project will instill in New Jersey residents a long lasting appreciation for birds of prey and the habitat they require to survive.”

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