Where Are Your Osprey?

Where have our osprey gone after abandoning Chesapeake Country over the last six weeks?

In general, we know that Chesapeake osprey fly from between 2,000 and 4,000 miles. Their journey takes 15 to 50 days, depending on the individual’s flight plans.

Transmitter-tagged birds can tell us much more.

So we turn to 40-plus-year osprey researcher Rob Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina. He’s been banding birds since 2000 on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and South Carolina.

His October migration report on how many tagged birds recounts good news — and bad.

“The bad: Penelope, tagged as a juvenile in 2008, survived a boat ride, went through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, crossed the Caribbean. But she seems to have been lost at sea only 25 miles from land after resting for a couple of days on some islands just north of Venezuela. We’ve been getting signals from her out over the water for three days. I can’t come up with any scenario other than her body is floating around out there. Major bummer.”

The good news tells us just how far and wide osprey travel.

“Everyone else is safe,” Bierregaard reports.

“Thatch, a juvenile tagged this year, has settled down in West Palm Beach; he’s the third Delaware osprey to do a short-stop migration.

“Sr. Bones, an adult male tagged in 2010, is in Venezuela. Mr. Hannah, an adult male tagged in 2009, is resting in Curacao; he hopped on a boat in the Caribbean, too. This seems to be the year for this.

“Gunny, an adult male tagged this year, is in Haiti. Two adult males tagged this year, Neale and Sanford, are in Cuba. 

“Buck, a juvenile tagged this year, has settled down again after a surprising junket around Lake Maracaibo and then another out west of his headquarters. Bob, an adult male tagged last year, is on a nice little atoll just east of Bonaire. 

“Belle, a juvenile tagged this year, is the winner of the last-one-out-turn-out-the-lights award, though some others around, and the Cape Henlopen hawk watch (down in Delaware where we tagged Thatch) counted 288 osprey yesterday, so there are still birds coming down the coast.”

Follow the flight of the osprey at http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard/migration10.htm