The movements of three young osprey recently fitted with GPS tracking units by Michigan wildlife officials can be seen on a Google Earth site now being hosted by the grassroots group Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan.
“OWSEM is going to host the site. Last week it wasn’t updating, but it is working now,” said Julie Oakes, a Southfield based wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Oakes conceived of the project to track the birds in their home range and along their southern migratory routes, hoping to learn more about their travels with the idea of providing that information to school teachers who could engage students by following the birds.
The osprey’s whereabouts are readily seen on the map site which shows three colored dots, each representing one of the birds. Zooming in on the dots shows the flight movements of each.
The pink dot is Independence, the osprey at Kensington Metropark outside of Detroit. The yellow dot is Monroe Spark, the young osprey at Estral Beach. The blue dot is Leroy, the osprey that hatched from a nest on a cell-tower in Pinckney.
“There’s not as much water around Pinckney,” said Oakes, “but they are getting their fish somewhere. They’ve raised their young there. In the Monroe area there is all kinds of fish and that bird is moving a lot.”
The young osprey will winter likely in Florida or Mexico. They should return to Michigan on their second year to mate and nest once they sexually mature. The GPS collars are designed to fall off after two to three years.