Michigan Osprey’s Being Tracked by GPS

27 Sep 2017

Michigan’s osprey population faces threats from pesticides, habitat loss and the effects of DDT. In an effort to conserve the species, monitoring efforts are in place in the south of the state to track the species.

Four osprey chicks in the area were recently fitted with special GPS tracking “backpacks”. Michigan Osprey member Barb Jensen, Lou Waldock, DTE Energy and Huron Valley Audubon gave their financial backing to the project. The special backpacks help experts keep track of the seasonal migration patterns and daily movements of the young birds.

The chicks began their lives on platforms at Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan State University’s Lux Arbor Reserve, Delton and on Fletcher’s Pond close to Alpena. It’s hoped that the project will provide the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with migration route information. They will also be able to investigate any dangers the ospreys face during that time.

The great horned owl is a natural predator of the osprey. A matter of days after one of the chicks was first fitted with the GPS tracking device, it fell prey to what scientists believe to be a great horned owl.

As many as 60 percent of osprey chicks that hatch annually don’t reach the age of two. Mortality factors commonly include the shooting of birds in Latin America, weather, predation and collisions with buildings and other structures.

One chick who was fitted with a backpack in 2014 made its return to the Midwest in 2016. Ozzie began her life at Pointe Mouillee State Game Area. She went on to spend two winter seasons in Columbia and flew back to the U.S to spend the summer in West Virginia.

In 1998, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources relocated ospreys to the south of the state. They relocated chicks from northern Michigan nests and placed them in man-made towers in the south. In 2016, there were 60 nests in southern Michigan, a huge increase from the one active solitary active nest in 2002.

More details on the project are available at the Michigan Osprey website – www.michiganosprey.org.  You can view flight routes by moving the cursor to check time and date information and GPS coordinates for each leg of the bird’s journey. The ospreys will begin their next migration in early to mid- September.

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