Happy allergy season everyone! It’s Osprey Girl. It has been a while since I have posted a blog, but there is no better time than the present. Today I will be shifting the focus from our beloved Tom and Audrey to another feathered friend named Crabby. Those of you who were at the Welcome Back Osprey Party in April will know what I am referring to and the rest of you are about to know.
On April 17, 2014, Dr. Rob Bierregaard and his team tagged a female osprey here on the Eastern Shore, who was subsequently named Crabby. Dr. Bierregaard is a Research Associate of the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has trapped and tagged dozens of ospreys during his career as an ornithologist. Trapping a bird is not easy, but the setup that was used made the process go smoothly and the bird was not injured. The team set up a trap (picture below) and placed it on top of Crabby’s nest while she was away fishing. When Crabby returned to sit on the nest, the trap was sprung and a series of knots tightened around her talons, preventing her from flying away. Dr. Bierregaard immediately waded out into the water and put a ladder up to the nest. Once up at the nest, a black hood was placed over Crabby’s head in order to calm her down. Crabby was then carried back to shore. Back on land, a tracker was fitted and placed onto Crabby’s back, secured by nylon straps. The tracker is set up like a backpack for a bird and runs on solar power. Once the tracker was secured, Crabby was free to go and continue on with her life. Although Dr. Bierregaard had been trying to catch male ospreys, he determined that Crabby was actually an unattached female who happened to be visiting the nest.
The most interesting part of tracking Crabby is that we can see her every movement. On August 25, 2014, Crabby packed her bags and began her journey south from Maryland to her winter home. There was little traffic, and she made a few pit stops on her way down the east coast. Crabby arrived in southern Florida on August 29. The next day, she left the Florida Keys around 4:28 p.m. and landed in Cuba 6 hours later (customs was clearly not very busy/ existent). Crabby then travelled across the beautiful Caribbean. She left the Dominican Republic the morning of September 8th and landed in Venezuela 25 hours later. Dr. Bierregaard continued to track Crabby’s flight across Venezuela. The last leg of her trip took 14 days and ended on the coast of French Guinea. Crabby wintered in this location and on March 15, 2015, she began the journey north back to Maryland.
This year Crabby did not return to the pole where she was tagged. Instead, she chose a tree in a different part of the Eastern Shore not very far from where she was tagged. Dr. Bierregaard contacted Crazy Osprey Man (COM) a few days ago asking him to attempt to track down Crabby’s new home based on information from her tracker. On Sunday, May 10, COM and I made the drive to Crabby’s new location and saw her happily flying about. In our area, ospreys typically nest on poles in the water, so it is unusual that she chose a tree on land to set up her nest. One of the main problems with nesting in a tree is that predators can more easily reach the nest.
Crabby’s full journey is detailed on Dr. Bierregaard’s website which I have linked below. I encourage each of you to take a peak at it! Once on the site, you will be able to sign up to receive regular updates about Crabby and the other ospreys that Dr. Bierregaard has tagged.
Adios Amigos! Until Next Time,
http://www.ospreytrax.com/OspreyMainPage.html Osprey Home
http://www.ospreytrax.com/html_files/Crabbya.html Crabby’s Maps