Nature Mapping Jackson Hole: Osprey Project

Nature Mapping Jackson Hole initiated the Osprey Project in 2011 to monitor Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nests on both public and private lands located outside of Grand Teton National Park. Osprey are a large, migratory raptor that specializes on fish (Johnsgard 1990). They first arrive in the Jackson area in April and depart for points south in September/October. Osprey tend to build their nests in observable locations along road and waterways, therefore this species lends itself well to monitoring by citizen scientists. Trained volunteers observed 42 potential nest sites over the nesting season to record if osprey occupied sites, if they incubated eggs, and the number of young that were produced. Osprey have made a great recovery since the early 1980’s in the United States after the banning of DDT but as a common species they are not monitored by the state wildlife agency in Wyoming. Nature Mapping Jackson Hole’s Osprey Project will provide baseline data for nests in Teton County, WY to allow tracking the success of this species over time.

Osprey Project

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Osprey Project Data from 2011

Initial occupancy nest checks were conducted on May 7. Subsequent productivity checks were conducted between July 14 and August 16 based on Osprey’s brood timing. Given the north to south layout of the valley, we found that Osprey in the north nested later than those to the south. Therefore, productivity checks were done over a timespan rather than on a particular day. Future years of data collection will hopefully add more nests to the project as well as continue to monitor the occupants of these original nests.

Nests monitored contained Osprey (57%), Canada Geese (17%), Owls (2%) or were unoccupied (24%) (Table 1). We recorded productivity for Osprey and no other species. Of the 24 nests occupied by Osprey: 14 (58%) were successful (Table 2) producing a total of 21 young (Table 3). Eight nests produced 1 young, 5 nests produced 2 young and 1 nest produced 3 young. All of the nests that produced young were located proximate to small tributaries and/ or residential ponds.

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Observing Osprey

Osprey Project Area:

The project area encompassed lands south of Grand Teton National Park to Hoback Junction and west of Wilson (Fall Creek and Fish Creek Roads) to east of Jackson (Hwy 89/191) with areas in the Gros Ventre drainage and Buffalo Valley (both east of Grand Teton National Park). Grand Teton National Park biologists have monitored nests inside the park for a number of years as part of their wildlife monitoring program so park sites were not included in our volunteer project.

Methods:

In 2011, we began with monitoring known nest sites and recording nest location, spring occupancy and summer productivity for 42 nests. In an effort to limit nest disturbance and avoid duplicate monitoring, geographic areas (and particular nests) were assigned to individual volunteers. Volunteers were instructed to remain at least 200 yards away from the nest at all times and to vacate the area as quickly as possible if the Osprey appeared alarmed. Productivity checks were conducted with a scope and from a distance. Volunteers were provided with detailed protocols and educational materials on identifying juvenile Osprey.

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Nature Mapping Jackson Hole Oprey Project

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