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This Year’s Flight of the Osprey

Dear Bay Weekly:

Sept. 8: Looking back at all the juvenile data since 2004, the first week of September is when most of the young started migrating. This year’s crop is going to move that average back a bit, as only one of this group, Isabel, has begun the trip south — over the Atlantic.

Sept. 14: Isabel is on Bonaire. 2,500 miles in seven days!

Mr. Hannah, our Nantucket adult male, is in Cuba, heading southeast, having taken a much safer route to the Caribbean than did Isabel — but she’s a teenager.

Oct. 8: Leading the flock, literally, is Mr. Hannah. He has crossed the equator in Brazil.

Hudson won the race he was having with fellow Westport River male Ozzie to South America. He’s in Venezuela, while Ozzie’s working his way through Cuba.

Buck, our South Carolina youngster, moved to South America after a short stay in the Dominican Republic and is very close to Hudson.

Martha’s Vineyard youngster Caley seems to have dropped anchor in the Dominican Republic and is frighteningly close to where Meadow was shot last year.

Moffet is apparently up to his tarsi in fish at the head of the Lagoon, still on Martha’s Vineyard. This is the latest we’ve had a bird stay on the Vineyard, but by no means the latest we’ve had a bird wait to start migration. Meadow didn’t go south until Nov. 15, and Luke was north of Boston until Nov. 7.

Penelope is doing fine down in French Guiana.

Oct. 12: Our slacker juvenile, Moffet, finally left the Vineyard and last reported in about 100 miles NE of the Bahamas. We will hear from him tomorrow. He should be moving on toward Cuba.

We lost the signal from Hix, our Westport River juvenile, about three weeks ago. Two days ago we got a signal from the transmitter, which meant that it somehow turned over and the battery was recharged. I hopped on a plane, directional antenna and receiver in my carry-on bag, and drove from the Portland Airport up to Webb Lake, where we found the transmitter and the remains of Hix. My OCSI (Ornithological Crime Scene Investigation) points to great-horned owl predation.

We have also lost signals from Isabel (in Venezuela) and Katy (in Delaware). Katy, I suspect, may have also fallen victim to an owl. No way to tell for sure without an OCSI, but she roosted in a big woods and didn’t come out the next day, so that suggests she became part of the food chain.

Isabel’s disappearance is a mystery. She was in an area that didn’t have a lot of human activity down in Venezuela, so we’ll never know what happened to her.

–Rob Bierregaard, UNC-Charlotte

Editor’s note: Since 2000, Bierregaard and his team have attached transmitters to 33 osprey in Martha’s Vineyard, more recently extending tagging to Rhode Island, Delaware and South Carolina. Follow the flight of Bierregaard’s currently tagged osprey at

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