Osprey Tracking Map

Osprey Tracking 695x352

Prof. Rob Bierregaard, one of the world's leading osprey experts, carefully attaches Microwave Telemetry transponders to the osprey, allowing us to track their location.

Emmy Nicklin

The osprey, often referred to as "fish hawk," is an iconic bird that requires a clean environment and abundant food source—primarily menhaden and other fish. CBF's Osprey Tracking Project ran from 2001 to 2017 and allowed students and teachers to track birds—ones they had seen during field experiences at CBF education centers—from their home and classroom computers.

About the Project

CBF's Osprey Tracking project started in 2011 when conservation-minded Microwave Telemetry, Inc. (MTI) offered their services to support our education programs. The company manufactures devices researchers use to track avian and marine species. We first field tested one of the portable tracking units when two CBF staffers circumnavigated the Chesapeake Bay watershed by bike.  After a few more technological advances, it was possible to create this site, where students and teachers could follow the daily feeding patterns and seasonal migrations of osprey. 

After migrating to Central and South America for the winter months, ospreys return to the same nest sites on creeks, rivers, and shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay every year. Once they arrive they may travel many miles a day in search of supplies for their nest and fish for their young.

The criteria for choosing the birds were that they reside in an accessible nest and that the nest be close to student field programs operated daily by CBF. The location was critical so that students on field experiences could see the birds in the wild, discuss their habits, and then follow them online once back in the classroom. Teachers used the maps to integrate technology with biological concepts such as migration, habitat, and food  sources and to infuse STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles such as communication and collaboration into group activities. A lesson plan about ospreys provided teachers with further classroom material.

Our ospreys have moved on, but this historical Osprey Tracking Map continues to serve as a tool students and teachers can use to better understand these beautiful creatures.

The map is experiencing some technical difficulties. Please stay tuned while we get it back online.

How to Use this Map

  • About the Data: GSM data is recorded every few minutes. To download a spreadsheet of the GSM data, use the links in the map key.
  • Navigate: Click and drag the map to pan or use the arrow toggle in the upper left corner.
  • Zoom: Drag the zoom slider up or down to zoom in or out incrementally. Double-click a location to zoom in on that location.
  • Layers: Select the Map or Satellite layer to change the view. When you mouse over the Satellite button an option will appear to show Labels (location and road names).
  • To view data for a particular date: Use the date picker to select a date. The black-outlined circle for each bird will automatically move to the location for that date.
  • To view data for a particular bird: Find the colored trail associated with the bird you want to follow.
  • To view data:
    1. Hover over the colored track. When your mouse icon turns to a pointer, click on the track. You will see a black-outlined circle appear at the closest location with recorded data.
    2. Click on the circle for an information bubble showing the bird's name, date, time, and latitude and longitude recorded at that time. You will also see the date change in the calendar at the top center of the map.
    3. Click and drag the circle to see data for other locations on the trail.

As a rule of thumb, use the map to gain a general understanding of the bird's activities, and download the GSM data for specifics.

Special thanks to the team at Microwave Telemetry, Inc. and for the technical support provided by Rob Bierregaard PhD and Bryan Watts PhD, without whom this program would not be possible.

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