Jamaica Bay and Colombia

One of the male ospreys who breeds in Jamaica Bay was fitted with a GPS tracker this migration season. The bird is now “wintering” in Colombia. I put wintering in quotes because although migratory birds head south to avoid our winter, they go to places in Central and South America where winter is an extremely mild season, or if on the other side of the equator, actually summer. In essence, then, migratory birds move from summer to summer. Not a bad strategy, which maximizes access to food, but a hazardous one, involving long flights and the vagaries of weather and other pitfalls. It also doubles their chances of being screwed by habitat destruction, pollution, and general human savagery.

Bob Kennedy, who I know from Nantucket, is in charge of this project under the auspices of the NY Harbor Conservancy and Gateway NRA. Kennedy has also been tracking a Nantucket-breeding osprey for the Maria Mitchell Association for three seasons now. This bird also invariably spends our winter in a small patch of Colombia. Some ospreys head even further south, all the way to Patagonia. These migrations are just one aspect of the global interconnectedness of life — as was the DDT in the food chain that almost exterminated this species.

The picture above is of the 2011 generation of Jamaica Bay ospreys, taken on a foggy July 4th. I believe that it is the adult male from this nest, which is closest to the West Pound trail, that is the bird being tracked. Mated pairs separate after breeding but, if all goes well, return to their nests and each other in the spring.

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