Sunday, February 2, 2020

2019 DATA!

2019 OSPREY RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION SUMMARY

                                                          By Vanessa Greene
       
           The first Ospreys of the 2019 season were observed on April 6, with reports coming in from various parts of the metro at the same time. The first bands were read successfully that day. The first signs of incubation were documented on April 19. This year was a struggle for many ospreys with a higher failure rate than past years in this 36th year of monitoring the osprey population in the eight county Twin Cities Metro area.
          There were 151 nests which were occupied* by a pair of adult ospreys. (136 in 2018). There may be more nests we do not know about. There were five additional nests that were determined to be frustration nests which appeared after a nearby pair had failed to breed successfully, and therefore not counted as separate territories. Eggs were laid in 140 nests (125 in 2018).There were also two additional nests that were discovered later in the breeding season and although no chicks were present, it was not known if eggs were laid or not and 93 of these nests had at least one chick that was confirmed to have fledged 2019 OSPREY RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION SUMMARY

                                                          By Vanessa Greene
       
           The first Ospreys of the 2019 season were observed on April 6, with reports coming in from various parts of the metro at the same time. The first bands were read successfully that day. The first signs of incubation were documented on April 19. This year was a struggle for many ospreys with a higher failure rate than past years in this 36th year of monitoring the osprey population in the eight county Twin Cities Metro area.
          There were 151 nests which were occupied* by a pair of adult ospreys. (136 in 2018). There may be more nests we do not know about. There were five additional nests that were determined to be frustration nests which appeared after a nearby pair had failed to breed successfully, and therefore not counted as separate territories. Eggs were laid in 140nests (125 in 2018).There were also two additional nests that were discovered later in the breeding season and although no chicks were present, it was not known if eggs were laid or not and 93of these nests had at least one chick that was confirmed to have fledged successfully or survived to fledging age (96 in 2018). We documented 58 nests which failed (40 in 2018). We separate failed nests into two distinct subcategories; nests where a pair was present but no eggs were laid (9) and nests where eggs were laid but they failed to successfully fledge a single chick or the cause of failure was unknown (49). (Not laying eggs is considered to be a kind of nest failure by other scientists.) Out of those 49 nests where eggs were laid, there were 11nests where hatching did occur but all chicks died fairly early, before we could accurately count them. The remaining 38nests failed prior to hatching or for unknown reasons. This year’s failure rate reflects a significant increase so we looked at the statistical failure rate in recent years. In 2019the failure rate was 39%, in 2018it was 29%, in 2017it was 28%, and in 2016it was 25%. It was notable that a very large cluster of 20nest failures occurred in an approximate ten-mile square area surrounding Carver Park and the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, near Victoria, Chanhassen, Chaska and Mound, MN. Most other failures occurred on scattered nests in the metro area. We do not know the reasons for these failures but in some cases, on these and other nests in other parts of the metro, we suspect that a large black fly hatch, after heavy rains, may have affected outcomes. Some adults were observed flying off the nest repeatedly during incubation. Swarms of black flies were seen on some nests with newly hatched chicks which probably succumbed to the constant biting.
There were 194 chicks that were known to have fledged successfully or survived to fledging age! (205 in 2018). Most successful nests had two chicks this year, with 41 nests with two chicks, 30nests with three chicks, and 22nests that produced a single chick. The mortality rate this year was similar to last year with 17chicks which were known to have died or disappeared before fledging, (19 last year) threechicks which died post fledge and twoadults which died; one from a vehicle collision and the other may have died from an impact injury after a territorial dispute. It was found dead near another nest on a cell tower with a severely broken wing. There were only 83adult Ospreys identified by their bands, as the number of banded birds continues to drop. Three of these were from Iowa. We located 13new nesting territories, including three nests that were newly discovered this year although reports indicated that they had been there for one or more years. Only four of these new nests successfully fledged chicks. There was one nest which was occupied by geese for the second year. It is interesting to note that of the 151occupied territories this year, 78were on osprey nesting platforms, 29were on cell or radio towers, 22were on ballfield lights, 18were on a power pole or transmission tower, twowere on other manmade structures and twonests were built in a dead tree. One of these laid eggs and produced two chicks who survived to an advanced age, but the nest blew down in a storm and both chicks died.
            The overall productivity of occupied nests which were successful this year dropped significantly to 62%,(71% in 2018, 72% in 2017, 76% in 2016, 68% in 2015, 70% in 2014, 67% in 2013, and 77% in 2012). The mean number of young fledged per successfulnest was 2.09%,(2.13 in 2018, 2.25 in 2017,2.24 in 2016, 2.43 in 2015, 1.77 in 2014). The mean number of young fledged per activenest was 1.39%, (1.64 in 2018, 1.75 in 2017,1.84 in 2016, 1.88 in 2015, 1.41 in 2014) and the mean number of young fledged per occupiednest was 1.28%,(1.51 in 2018, 1.62 in 2017, 1.70 in 2016, 1.65 in 2015, 1.25 in 2014).  These numbers reflect a notable decrease in overall productivity per nest. There were two nests which have failed for five years in a row.
           The four oldest males this year, dropped to 16years of age, with two others that were 15. Of these six older males, only two bred successfully. Our oldest female was a banded female that showed up on a nest this year for the first time and she was 13years old! This indicates that she must have been nesting previously in a territory that we don’t know about! She bred successfully.   There were four females that were 12years old, three of which bred successfully.
          It is interesting to note that we have recorded 2,467 chicks that fledged from monitored nests in the eight county metro area since the inception of this project in 1984.
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*Successful nests are those that were known to have fledged at least one chick successfully, activenests are those where eggs are laid and occupiednests are those where pairs are present at a nest site for a period of time, regardless of the time of year or whether or not they lay.

 successfully or survived to fledging age (96 in 2018). We documented 58 nests which failed (40 in 2018). We separate failed nests into two distinct subcategories; nests where a pair was present but no eggs were laid (9) and nests where eggs were laid but they failed to successfully fledge a single chick or the cause of failure was unknown (49). (Not laying eggs is considered to be a kind of nest failure by other scientists.) Out of those 49 nests where eggs were laid, there were 11nests where hatching did occur but all chicks died fairly early, before we could accurately count them. The remaining 38 nests failed prior to hatching or for unknown reasons. This year’s failure rate reflects a significant increase so we looked at the statistical failure rate in recent years. In 2019 the failure rate was 39%, in 2018 it was 29%, in 2017 it was 28%, and in 2016 it was 25%. It was notable that a very large cluster of 20 nest failures occurred in an approximate ten-mile square area surrounding Carver Park and the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, near Victoria, Chanhassen, Chaska and Mound, MN. Most other failures occurred on scattered nests in the metro area. We do not know the reasons for these failures but in some cases, on these and other nests in other parts of the metro, we suspect that a large black fly hatch, after heavy rains, may have affected outcomes. Some adults were observed flying off the nest repeatedly during incubation. Swarms of black flies were seen on some nests with newly hatched chicks which probably succumbed to the constant biting.
There were 194  chicks that were known to have fledged successfully or survived to fledging age! (205 in 2018). Most successful nests had two chicks this year, with 41 nests with two chicks, 30 nests with three chicks, and 22 nests that produced a single chick. The mortality rate this year was similar to last year with 17 chicks which were known to have died or disappeared before fledging, (19 last year) three chicks which died post fledge and two adults which died; one from a vehicle collision and the other may have died from an impact injury after a territorial dispute. It was found dead near another nest on a cell tower with a severely broken wing. There were only 83 adult Ospreys identified by their bands, as the number of banded birds continues to drop. Three of these were from Iowa. We located 13 new nesting territories, including three nests that were newly discovered this year although reports indicated that they had been there for one or more years. Only four of these new nests successfully fledged chicks. There was one nest which was occupied by geese for the second year. It is interesting to note that of the 151 occupied territories this year, 78 were on osprey nesting platforms, 29 were on cell or radio towers, 22 were on ballfield lights, 18 were on a power pole or transmission tower, two were on other manmade structures and two nests were built in a dead tree. One of these laid eggs and produced two chicks who survived to an advanced age, but the nest blew down in a storm and both chicks died.
            The overall productivity of occupied nests which were successful this year dropped significantly to 62%,(71% in 2018, 72% in 2017, 76% in 2016, 68% in 2015, 70% in 2014, 67% in 2013, and 77% in 2012). The mean number of young fledged per successfulnest was 2.09%,(2.13 in 2018, 2.25 in 2017,2.24 in 2016, 2.43 in 2015, 1.77 in 2014). The mean number of young fledged per activenest was 1.39%, (1.64 in 2018, 1.75 in 2017,1.84 in 2016, 1.88 in 2015, 1.41 in 2014) and the mean number of young fledged per occupiednest was 1.28%,(1.51 in 2018, 1.62 in 2017, 1.70 in 2016, 1.65 in 2015, 1.25 in 2014).  These numbers reflect a notable decrease in overall productivity per nest. There were two nests which have failed for five years in a row.
           The four oldest males this year, dropped to 16years of age, with two others that were 15. Of these six older males, only two bred successfully. Our oldest female was a banded female that showed up on a nest this year for the first time and she was 13years old! This indicates that she must have been nesting previously in a territory that we don’t know about! She bred successfully.   There were four females that were 12years old, three of which bred successfully.
          It is interesting to note that we have recorded 2,467 chicks that fledged from monitored nests in the eight county metro area since the inception of this project in 1984.
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*Successful nests are those that were known to have fledged at least one chick successfully, activenests are those where eggs are laid and occupiednests are those where pairs are present at a nest site for a period of time, regardless of the time of year or whether or not they lay.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2019 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

2019 AKNOWLEDGEMENTS
There are so many people who have been instrumental in helping Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch continue this Osprey research. This year, 2019, marked my 26th year of monitoring all known nests in the eight-county metro area surrounding the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, and I could not do this without a great deal of help. The careful, monitoring of these nests and the consistent collection and analysis of data over so many years may prove to be a significant contribution to understanding the world we live in, the health of our environment as well as overall productivity and behavior of this population of Ospreys.

Special thanks to Alice Stoddard, Barb Ankrum,  Carol Christians, Perry Westphal, Dani Porter Born, Barbara Gaughan, Carol Reitan, Meg Smith, Jean and Rod DeZeeuw, Ellie Crosby, JoAnn Chase, Debbie Jordan, Glen Gauvin, Ann Merritt, Stuart McKernan, Larry Luebben, Sue Welter, Dave Hanzel, John Clouse, Jack Kimmerle, Marie Culhane, Debbie Cohn, Phyllis Bofferding, and  Larry Waldhauser, for sharing their observations, their commitment to this effort, their photos, and their love for these birds.

Thanks to all the private property owners who are such important and wonderful hosts to our Ospreys, and who have provided me access to these nests for monitoring.
Special thanks to Tim Fenstermacher and Nate Paulson at Aggregate Industries for their cooperation in allowing me to monitor nests on their property and the help with rescues.

A very heartfelt thanks to all who contributed financially to our project in 2019: Barbara Pierson and Paul Patton, Ruth Rechtzigel, Carol Friendly, Lori Lucke, Mark McGuire, Debbie Jordan, Robert Van De Loo, and Cathy Gagliardi! 

I also want to send a special thanks to John Howe at the Raptor Resource Project for their generous financial support.

I am deeply grateful for all the help I have received in so many different forms, and for showing your faith in my ongoing efforts to continue this research study.
 
 
Vanessa Greene     
February 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

Deep thanks.....

Today I want to acknowledge some generous donations that we have received in recent weeks. We sincerely appreciate the contributions made to our Go Fund Me page by Catherine Cohen, Michael Academia, and Judith Notari. And a special thanks to Tamalyn Page for her donation, made in memory of John D. Cusimano. We are so grateful to all the people who care about these magnificent raptors and feel moved to help us continue the research and rescues. What a wonderful way to remember and honor a dear, departed friend who loved to watch the Ospreys in Washington state.
May Johns spirit soar with the Ospreys.
I deeply appreciate the support.

I will be posting the annual acknowledgements and results from 2019 very soon....but wanted to put out an immediate thanks to these kind and generous folks.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Help?

Here we are mid January....still trying to solve some problems with old nestpoles and old nestboxes. The photos show some poles that are leaning and a box that needs replacing. We have been struggling to find help with these structural issues for over a year now. The big power company in this area referred us to a gentleman who agreed to help us, but after many communication problems, and his relocation to another state, nothing has been accomplished. It’s very disappointing. I have exhausted all known options for help with these situations so as a last attempt we are throwing his out to all the readers of this page in hopes that someone might be able to provide assistance. If anyone has contacts with someone who has the skills and necessary equipment to either replace these deteriorating poles, or just straighten and stabilize them to buy us some time, please let us know. We held our breath all last summer when all these nests had chicks in them and we gave a huge sigh of relief when all chicks fledged safely, but we are not confident that these poles will survive another year of nesting. Many of the nest poles in the metro area are becoming quite old and are deteriorating. We do not have the money to buy new poles or to build new nest boxes. Sometimes a Boy Scout will take on a project like this to earn their Eagle Scout badge and we would be happy to work with anyone who is interested in taking this on. Feel free to share this post in hopes that we can find someone who cares about these birds and might be able to contribute some assistance so the ospreys can return to a safe nest in April. Any and all help will be deeply appreciated. Questions can be sent to Osprey.mn@gmail.com Thanks. 


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Happy Solstice

It’s the winter solstice and we are winding down to the end of the year. I wish you all a peaceful holiday time, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy New Year....
I want to send out a special thanks to John Howe and the Raptor Resource Project for their generous year end donation to help us keep the research going for another year. Thanks also to everyone who has donated financially and especially those who have donated so many hours to help me watch over all the nests this year. We will be posting another update soon about some of the hurdles we face and how you can help. And of course I will soon begin the huge task of gathering all the data and compiling the annual report. Results will be posted here when it is complete. 
So tonight, dance around the fire, burn some incense, release the problems and wait for the light to return......
Peace to you all....

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Still a few ospreys around.....

As our Osprey season begins to wind down, I savor the opportunity to spend some time searching for the remaining birds, listening to their food begging, watching their behaviors, reading some silver bands and re reading some color bands on our beloved Dads. Many nests are empty but I was surprised at how many ospreys I was able to locate today. I intended to spend half a day with the ospreys, but of course, I was out there all day. I was so happy to see a few of my favorite banded males, still attending to a remaining chick.
Last week I returned to the nest where the long time male had been hit and killed by a car. The nest had five ospreys flying around for hours! The neighbors reported it was the same the day before too. In addition there was an unbanded adult male in a tree watching it all. Lots of circling, chirping and occasionally trying to land on the nest, which caused another adult to chase him off. As I watched carefully, they appeared to be unbanded adult males. I heard one juvenile voice in the mix. It’s amazing how quickly other ospreys figured out that this was an undefended territory now. I pondered how it appeared differently to these birds, from a nest where the family has migrated away. There appeared to be at least one chick still there, with no adult male defending or feeding that youngster. I believe there were lots of subtle signals that caused all this commotion and testing by these adults. Tho this situation breaks my heart, I do find any circumstance like this interesting to watch. I remain so curious about behaviors. And just to be able to leisurely hang out today with some of the remaining chicks and dads on these final days soothes my soul. Below is a stunning photo sent by Ann Merritt, one of our wonderful monitors, of a juvenile who successfully caught a fish! Many will not be successful until they begin their first journey south. Gosh, what will we do without our winged friends? Every year it’s so hard to adjust to life without them.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This is an important post I am sharing from Paul Wildlifewriter in the UK...about water quality in Europe. Given the high failure rate in our Osprey population this year, and the fact that the failures are clustered in specific areas, this raises questions. I wish we had more money to be able to do blood tests and banding. 


INFOGRAPHIC: Europe's heavy metal band
Ospreys are an “indicator species”. What does that mean? It means that creatures such as ospreys, otters, water voles and many others, have a lifestyle that directly and measurably reflects the health (or otherwise) of the environment in which they live. 
In recent years, there's been a worrying discrepancy in the statistics on survival rates of juvenile ospreys in different regions of Europe. Studies in western zones (such as the UK) suggest that about 50-60% of fledged ospreys are still alive after their first year. BUT... researchers in Scandinavia insist that the comparable survival rate in THEIR study areas is lower – around 40%.
Are some of these results right, and others just wrong? Maybe not...
Comparing like-for-like is difficult and there are many factors to consider:- Swedish ospreys (for example) undertake generally longer migrations end to end, and have a wider expanse of the Sahara desert to cross before they can reach their wintering grounds. But would that make such a large difference? In theory, it shouldn't.
Over in the USA, the excellent Dr Erik Greene has established a causal link between mercury and other metallic compounds in the environment, and osprey population figures. [1] Greene's work is now widely cited in other surveys and the results cannot be doubted.
So what if the local variations in European osprey survival have nothing to do with migration? Is the “indicator species” giving us an indication that there might be a problem here, too? The graphic above shows the water quality status (mercury) from the last survey carried out by the European Environment Agency. It's a result that startled me – and it might surprise you as well.
-WLW