Satellite tracking the migrations of Ospreys from New Hampshire to South America.
In 2011, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center launched a new research and education project focusing on tracking the international migrations of Ospreys nesting in New Hampshire. Using state-of-the-art solar-powered satellite transmitters - that weigh 30 grams/ 1 ounce - attached to the backs of juvenile and adult Ospreys, we will use interactive web-based technology to allow near real-time tracking of multiple Ospreys as they migrate from their nests in New Hampshire to South America and back. Each backpack includes a tiny GPS unit that records hourly locations, altitude, speed, and direction.
Project leader and Science Center Executive Director Iain MacLeod has been studying Ospreys for more than 30 years, first in his native Scotland and now in New Hampshire. Iain has been monitoring the growing breeding Osprey population in the NH Lakes Region since 1997 (click here to see a recent paper authored by Iain on his studies). Over the next three years, we hope to install transmitters on 15 Ospreys.
A key project partner is Dr. Richard O. (Rob) Bierregaard, a Distinguished Visiting Research Professor at the Department of Biology at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, NC. Bierregaard has been studying Ospreys on Martha’s Vineyard since 1969, and in 2000 began deploying lightweight satellite backpacks to track juveniles as they made their first migrations. After 10 years, and more than 40 birds tagged, his project is providing much-needed data revealing migrational differences among Ospreys and helping pin down where threats to Ospreys lie.
Another key partner is Chris Martin of New Hampshire Audubon. Chris coordinates statewide monitoring and conservation of Ospreys and other raptors under contract with the NH Fish and Game Department’s Nongame Program.
3M awarded a $33,264 3M Eco Grant to enhance Project OspreyTrack in October 2014. With additional matching funds from Eversource Energy and the Jane B. Cook 1983 Charitable Trust, the grant will allow the Science Center to create an eastern flyway network through participating nature centers and schools in 15 states from New Hampshire to Florida through which migrating Ospreys pass on their way from northern New England to South America. Curriculum materials will be created and disseminated and students will communicate and share their experience with Ospreys in their state as well as network with schools and nature institutions in Europe, Africa, and South America.