Ospreys return soon; expert seeks help to straighten Navesink River platform

     The nesting platform in the Navesink River that requires straightening. (Image courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

    The nesting platform in the Navesink River that requires straightening. (Image courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

    It’s that time of the year again when ospreys — the raptors that have staged a miraculous comeback in New Jersey since the early 1970s — migrate from their wintering grounds in Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.

    In New Jersey, most ospreys nest along the Atlantic coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May and arrive in mid to late March, according to Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

    One osprey pair makes its home on top of a Superstorm Sandy-damaged decommissioned channel marker in the Navesink River off Fair Haven, he said in a blog post, adding that the nesting pair produced three offspring in 2013.

    “Considering the current condition of the nest pole, they were really lucky to produce any young at all!” Wurst said. “We pledged to repair any and all platforms that were reported as damaged by the storm and did; however, we don’t have the equipment or boats to repair a leaning platform in open water, like [the Navesink River nest]. Since it was damaged we have been contacted by many concerned citizens who watch the pair that nests here.”

    He explained that since ospreys mate for life and return to the same nest annually, the precarious nature of the pair’s channel marker home is a problem.

    “They will build their nest at an angle to compensate for the lean, but young are still in jeopardy of falling out of it. Our goal is to get it fixed before the pole falls over,” Wurst said. “Lastly, this is an important nest site in the region. There is very little preserved open space in this region of Monmouth County and very few osprey nests.”

    So how can you help?

    Wurst said his organization reached out for public and private assistance last year but did not receive any offers. He’s looking for assistance from a bulkheading or marine construction company that operates in the Fair Haven/Rumson area.

    If you can help, he can be reached via email at ben.wurst@conservewildlifenj.org or telephone at (609) 628-2985.

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