2015 Summer Mid-Atlantic

Sad news from our Mid-Atlantic birds--three lost this summer! Scroll on down below the map for details and visit the New England map to see new birds tagged.

Mid-Atlantic Birds - Summer 2015 (15 Apr - 15 Aug)

The continent-wide scale is boring, so zoom in on individual birds to see how they use their summer ranges over the course of the breeding season.

Move the gray rectangular slider at the bottom of the interactive map to animate the birds' movements.

Scroll down for updated commentary on each bird's movements.

Crabby (green) Chesapeake Bay female.

Nick (red) Chesapeake Bay adult male.

Ron (hot pink) DC adult male.

Quin (burgundy) Chesapeake Bay adult male.

Woody (teal) Chesapeake Bay adult male.

Notes: I think I've got the colors right now, although they may show up differently on different computers.

Hover the cursor over a dot to see which bird is which. Click on it for location details

You can zoom in and out and move the map around. If you slide a birds marker along its path, you'll see where the other birds were when your bird was wherever you have the marker. You can also use the calendar to see where all the birds were on a given date.

Go to Individual Bios


(Scroll up for interactive map)

5 Aug 2015:

This has been a very bad year for our Mid-Atlantic birds. A week after Crabby's strange move up to PA, her signal abruptly went off the air on 14 June. This usually means some catastrophic end to the bird--a car collision or electrocution. In our experience, radio failures are usually preceded by some intermittent loss of signal. She may have died with the transmitter underneath her so the solar panel couldn't recharge the battery. Sometimes we'll get a signal weeks, or even months, after a bird goes quiet on us.

Then, on the 9th of July, we lost the signal from Woody. When I looked at his data, it appeared that he was a victim of a traffic accident, as there was a big cluster of points right by the entrance to the Annapolis Bay Bridge. Closer inspection of the points indicated that he was perching on a lamp post, flying out and then returning to the perch. The last signal has him right over the road, so perhaps he was hit by a car, but we can't tell, and a search of the area turned up no evidence of the body.

On the 20th of July, we lost the signal from Ron Harper, our somewhat crazy DC male. Another abrupt end to his signals leave us puzzled about what happened. He is in a high traffic area, both boat and vehicles, so we'll never know what happened to him.

9 June 2015:

Crabby's nest has obviously failed. We don't have eyes on the ground right at this nest, so we can't tell what happened, but the most likely scenario is that a raccoon got into the nest at night. The nest was "old school," which is to say that it was in a tree and not on a platform safely out in the water. We had spoken to the residents about a predator guard, but I don't think they got around to it. In any case, Crabby's first full nesting attempt was not successful, but that is not unexpected. It takes a few years for young birds to figure out all the tricks of the trade. When the nest failed, she went over to Tuckahoe Creek, where she often fishes in the spring. That was not a surprise. The trip to Pennsylvania, on the other hand, was!

I suspect she'll be back before too long. Once a bird is attached to a nest site, this is a valuable piece of real estate and not something to be ignored. We often see birds with failed nests move fairly far off and then check back in from time to time at their nests--just to keep the riff-raff from getting any ideas. Conversely, we see young birds without territories start to hang out in July and August and apparently unoccupied nests to lay claim to them. Which is why the adults keep coming back during the summer.


13 May 2015:

Lots of cool stuff happening with the Chesapeake and DC birds.

On Tangier Island, in the Virginian portion of the Bay, Quin is back at his nest and all seems normal. When he first got back on March 29th, he established his presence at the nest and then began commuting 40 miles (each way!) up to Salisbury, MD, where he was fishing the Salisbury River, especially just below a dam. He did this last year. It suggests that when he first gets back each spring the fishing isn't very good in the Bay around Tangier. As we've seen with so many of our birds before, they all seem to know a special place where the fishing is good and reliable. This year between arriving on the 29th and the 27th of April, he made 17 round trips from his nest to Salisbury and back.

His neighbor, Nick, is also back on Tangier Island, where we trapped him in 2013. He did not nest last year. It looks like this year he may be nesting. He's much more focused on the area where he nested in 2013 when we tagged him. He did a bit of commuting himself, although not as much or as far as Quin. Now he's pretty focused on the area where his nest was and

Further up the Bay, near Annapolis, Woody is not nesting. This is perplexing. He certainly got back in time. Perhaps his mate didn't survive the migration, but we don't see evidence that he set up at a nest.

Over on Kent Island, Crabby has found Mr. Right and is nesting on Kent Island. She was tagged last year as she was trying to insinuate herself into a pair on Crab Alley Bay. That didn't work, but this spring we started to notice that she was moving around very little and that there was a very heavy concentration of her GPS locations at one spot. It looked very much like she was on a nest. Sure enough, our colleague Rich Harrison went down to the spot and found her in a nest in a broken locust tree. This is "old school" Osprey nesting. In the 21st century, most Osprey nests are on man-made structures--either poles put up for them or channel markers, or cell towers, or chimneys or, dangerously, power lines.

Down in DC, our enigmatic wanderer Ron Harper got back to DC a week earlier than last year, when upon his tardy return he discovered that he had been displaced by a new male. His satellite data showed him staying mostly on the Anacostia River, just a few hundred meters south of the bridge where he nested in 2013. He was spending most of his time at a pier on the east side of the river. We went out on the river to see if we could spot him. When we found him, much to my surprise, he was on a nest incubating, assumedly having just delivered a fish to his new mate!