The Osprey Program at Greenbelt had another very successful year in 2021 monitoring and managing nesting Osprey north of Boston to the New Hamsphire border. There were so many highlights and notable events it is hard to know where to start. But here a few key takeaways from 2021:
Sixty-nine breeding pairs were confirmed nesting in 17 different towns. This is the highest number of breeding pairs observed in this area since the 1980s and represented an 11% increase from 2020. This is all the more remarkable given to very wet and cool weather that prevailed for much of the summer.
61 pairs (out of 69) were confirmed laying eggs and 49 of those pairs successfully hatched eggs and together produced 101 fledglings (chicks that attain flight).
8 pairs (out of 69) were “housekeeping” pairs that started or occupied a nest, but never laid eggs; these are typically younger Osprey nesting for the first or second year.
101 fledglings were observed in total (highest total ever in one year) and 41 fledglings were banded with US Fish and Wildlife Service issued aluminum leg bands. This brings the total to 271 fledglings banded since 2013. The purpose of banding is to allow individual birds to be identified by the unique band number should the bird ever be recaptured alive or found dead. This data provides data on Osprey distribution, survival and migratory patterns.
Probably the craziest and most upsetting thing that happened all season was an attack by two Bald Eagles on an Osprey nest in Gloucester, where the eagles were able to capture and kill the female Osprey from the pair. As populations of both these species increase, we can expect more conflicts. Let’s hope for no more mortality though.
Greenbelt installed four new Osprey platforms in 2021 and repaired many others. That brings the total to over 40 nest platforms installed by Greenbelt.
About 30 volunteer community scientists worked as nest monitors and submitted over 1700 online nest status reports during the 2021 season. This data is vital to the success of the Osprey Program.
A heartfelt thank you is extended to each and every volunteer who collected data during all sorts of challenging weather conditions and submitted all those reports.
The live-streaming webcam at Lobstaland Restaurant in Gloucester was enthralling and uplifting from start to finish.
Annie and Squam had a rough start in April as an intruding male tried unsuccessfully to supplant Squam. The result was a delayed start to the nesting season for Annie and Squam but eventually Annie produced three eggs, hatching two chicks.
Spar and Tina, the chicks, weathered storms and the same intruding male later in the season. Squam was again an excellent provider of fish, and the chicks grew with each passing day and fledged at about 50-55 days old – typical.
The webcam page on Greenbelt’s website was visited more than 60,000 times in 2021. We are so pleased to be able to provide so much entertainment and joy to so many people via this webcam!
The Osprey Program once again had very generous support from a wide range of donors – individual and corporate. The program is able to operate annually due to this support but the Osprey Fund is also growing annually to create long-term funding and stability for the program.
Everyone is excited for another amazing Osprey nesting season in 2022!