We're on Spring Break!

But don't worry . . . we'll be back real soon to tell more stories of the Chesapeake and how our waters are so important to our health, economy, and way of life. In the meantime, be sure to check out some of the events we have going on in the field this spring—from tree plantings to oyster restoration workshops to Bay Discovery trips on our skipjack the Stanley Norman! Come join us in the field to help Save the Bay!

Osprey return to nest
The return of the osprey is the tell-tale sign that spring has arrived in the Chesapeake region! Click here to learn more about osprey and visit our osprey cam and osprey tracking pages. Photo by Dennis Raulin.
 

Photo of the Week: It Wasn't Until . . .

Eagle
A young Bald Eagle comes in for a delicate landing on a branch that seems too flimsy to hold him . . . but did! Taken in late February on the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River, Portsmouth, Virginia.

We moved to the edge of the Elizabeth River in the fall of 1970 when seeing an eagle in the whole of the Mid-Atlantic region was a very rare and exciting treat. [With DDT] the population was at its low point. It wasn't until the 1980s, far up the York and James Rivers, that I saw my very first eagle in the wild. It wasn't until the mid 1990s before I spotted one anywhere on the Elizabeth River.

What an exciting change there has been because now we look forward to every winter, as several eagles of varying ages come to visit the Elizabeth. The eagle and osprey define the character of the Bay for me as much as the oyster and blue crab.

—Bill Quinn 

Ensure that Bill and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Osprey Nick Has Discovered Tinder

4-1-2016 9-26-49 AMAPRIL FOOLS!!! Yes, Tinder is one of the world's most popular dating apps, but ospreys have yet to discover it—as far as we know. We had you fooled there for a minute, didn't we?

In fact, these romantic birds are not all that into awkward first dates and talking too much about themselves. Instead, ospreys mate for life, returning to the same nests year after year, where they reunite with their mate (after wintering apart), breed, and fish for menhaden and other prey using their expert angling skills.

As true with many committed relationships, ospreys develop a strong partnership as they build their "home" or nest together. After the females lay eggs (which they incubate for one to two months), the devoted parents stick together and feed and care for the nestlings for 40-55 days after hatching until they learn to fly. See below for more specifics on the ospreys' appearance, habitat, and food.   

While osprey Nick has not joined Tinder (yet), he has just arrived back in the Chesapeake area after flying thousands of miles from his winter home in Ciénaga Mogua, Colombia. Click here to see his full migration path.

Often called the "osprey garden," the Chesapeake Bay has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world with more than 2,000 nesting pairs. Learn more about these extraordinary birds on our blog, podcast, and website. And keep your eye on our brand new osprey web cams as these fantastic birds continue to return to the Chesapeake.

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

More Osprey Facts:

Appearance
With its majestic wingspan of five to six feet, the osprey is often confused with the bald eagle. The large, brownish-black raptor has a mostly white head and underparts, with a distinctive black stripe running across both eyes. It typically grows to between 21-24 inches in length and 2.5-4.5 pounds in weight. The female has a “necklace” of sorts with brown-tipped breast feathers. 

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Photo by Dennis Raulin.

Habitat
The osprey lives near ponds, rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways around the world. It builds its nest usually in dead or open-topped trees or on manmade structures such as utility poles, pilings, and channel markers on or within a few miles of water.

Within the Chesapeake watershed, the osprey can be found throughout the tidal region of the Bay and its rivers from early March through spring and summer. Starting in mid-August, the osprey migrates south.

Food
Feeding almost exclusively on medium-sized fish, the osprey is a superb hunter. From 30 to 120(!) feet in the air, it can spot its prey, dive down to the water (sometimes becoming completely submerged in the process), and pluck its dinner between its curled claws. Once in the air, the osprey will situate the squirming fish headfirst to lessen wind resistance.


Moving Day for the Osprey

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BGE works to safely move an osprey nest to a new platform away from a live electrical pole. Photo by Rob Beach/CBF Staff.

"I just love their sound," says BGE's Principal Environmental Scientist Gregory Kappler on a bluebird kind of day earlier this week. He's talking about ospreys just as one swoops majestically down toward the water in front of us. We're standing on CBF's Merrill Center beach while Kappler's BGE colleagues steadily work nearby to install a new osprey platform.

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BGE's Principal Environmental Scientist supervises from the ground. Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

A recently arrived, misguided osprey has chosen the top of a live electrical pole at our headquarters to build his nest. But rather than risk the lives of the osprey and his future young (not to mention a power outage), BGE is building a new pole and platform dedicated solely to the osprey and his future family.  

"[We're working to] proactively prevent outages, protect the birds, and protect the nests," says BGE's Richard Yost. "It's a win-win." As such, just this month BGE launched its new Osprey Watch initiative to encourage customers to report any osprey nests near or on utility equipment. The utility company will then dispatch crews to safely relocate the nests and birds whenever, wherever possible. 

But though this year is a first for the Osprey Watch program, this type of osprey work is hardly new to BGE. "The first nest that we relocated was down in Baltimore County in 1989," says Kappler. "We've been doing this for many years, trying to keep the birds safe."

In less than an hour, BGE had safely and efficiently moved the osprey nest to a new platform away from the live wires. "[There's the] very real concern that a pole-top fire would occur there. Then you'd lose the birds, the eggs, the young, and electrical service . . . and we don't want any of that to happen," says Kappler who's been with BGE for 37 years.

Just 30 minutes after BGE had packed up and left, the osprey that had been living on the electric pole, glided into its new, fancy digs as if it had been there forever. A welcome sight for all, including Kappler: "It's to the birds' benefit, and BGE's benefit if we can get that nest off that cross-arm, make it safe and, at the same time, give the birds a place to raise their young."

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

While here, BGE was kind enough to help us with another osprey platform where we've set up our very first osprey web cam! Take a look now.

If you see an osprey nest on BGE equipment, please contact the Osprey Watch program at ospreywatch@bge.com with photos and the pole number or address if possible.

Click here for more photos of moving day for the osprey.

 

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The osprey (left) in his new digs. Photo by Rob Beach/CBF Staff.

9 Reasons Spring Is Awesome

PicMonkey Collage
As if you needed a reason . . . longer and warmer days, blue blue skies, birds and insects and flowers just waking up to the world. All this makes spring pretty great. Even still, we thought we'd take a moment to celebrate all there is to love about this incredible season. Here are nine reasons:  

1. The return of familiar friends like the osprey! Every spring, these quintessential Chesapeake birds travel thousands of miles to return to the same nests, where they reunite with their mate, breed, and fish for menhaden. Often called the "osprey garden," the Chesapeake Bay has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world! Listen in as CBF's Senior Naturalist John Page Williams discusses these extraordinary birds in our latest podcast.

2. Strawberries! Our sustainable Clagett Farm bursts with life every spring, including the juiciest, sweetest strawberries you've ever tasted. Learn more about our farm and how you can get your hands on some of these life-altering strawberries.

3. Spring Break! Forget Cancun (or dare we say Daytona?), inspiring college students from the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland Alternative Spring Break Programs chose the tropical shores of the Chesapeake to spend their vacations. Here they braved chilly nights on CBF's beach, planted trees across Maryland's farm fields, and cleaned oyster shell at our Oyster Restoration Center. Take a look at these photos to see these dedicated students in action, then watch the video below for a more in-depth view of what inspires these extraordinary students.


 

4. Learning outside! This past Monday, our spring education season launched with full force. Each spring, thousands of students and teachers come out with us to learn about the Bay and its waters and how they can help them. We've still got spots available on some of our programs—click here to sign up.

5. Taking pictures! Spring's early morning light, sweetbay magnolias stretching their newly blooming branches to the sky, a river's still, quiet surface just before twilight—these moments can inspire even the most photographically uninclined individuals. And what better way to showcase these images than by submitting them to our annual Save the Bay Photo Contest launching this coming Monday.

6. Planting trees! Remember your childlike self (and do something amazing for the Bay and its rivers at the same time) by digging in the dirt and planting a tree. Check out some of the plantings we're hosting in Maryland over the next few weeks.

7. Earth Day! Though we like to think every day is Earth Day, this special day (April 22) reminds us how fragile, beautiful, and all-important our planet is. Read on for an oldie but a goodie on the origins of Earth Day.

8. Sailing and boating! Is there anything better than that first day out on the water . . . when the air isn't so numbingly cold and the wind on your face is refreshing rather than irritating? We can't wait for spring days out on the water—join us for one of our Bay Discovery trips!

9. Clean the Bay Day! Though not taking place until June 4, this annual event, 28 years in the making, rallies thousands of Virginians together on one day to clean up the Commonwealth's shorelines. Learn more about this awesome day and sign up here.

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media




Photo of the Week: My One and Only

Photo by Dennis Raulin.Photo by Dennis Raulin.

In honor of Saint Valentine and his official day a mere six days away, we started thinking—what's the most romantic creature in the Chesapeake region? Is it the seahorse that dances and twirls with its mate, intertwining tails and changing colors as they spin? The jellyfish that, in pure Shakespearean tragedy, promptly dies right after spawning?

We'd like to think it's the osprey. The osprey that mates for life and returns each year (often traveling thousands of miles) to nest in the same area where they were born and to be reunited with their one and only. As true with many relationships, ospreys develop a strong partnership as they build their "home" or nest together. As they continue to play house, females lay eggs, which they incubate for one to two months. The devoted parents stick together and feed and care for the nestlings for 40-55 days after hatching until they learn to fly. 

Very soon these osprey will begin their migration north for the spring and summer, many settling into nests in the Chesapeake Bay region—what's often called the "osprey garden" as it has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world. We can't wait to see these lovebirds again. 

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


They're on Their Way!

Osprey-Tracking-Banner-940x320-compressedClick here to learn more about our osprey tracking project, and watch as osprey Woody, Tango, Quinn, and Nick take flight!

It's been a long, cold winter, but we're excited to say spring is on the way! Thanks to our new osprey tracking project, we've just received word that two of the four osprey we've been tracking have left the sunny shores of Cuba and Colombia, where they've been wintering, and are now on their way back home to the Chesapeake!

Click here to see for yourself as osprey Nick and Quinn make their way back home. 

Every March, these quintessential Chesapeake birds return to the same nest, where they reunite with their mate, breed, and fish for menhaden. Soon their young will begin to hatch, grow, and fledge, before departing for warmer climes late in the summer. 

Thanks to the conservation-minded folks at Microwave Telemetry, Inc. (MTI), we've been able to track four particular osprey—Woody, Tango, Quinn, and Nick—who spend their spring and summer near our Arthur Sherwood and Port Isobel Island Education Centers for our students to see and study.

Often called the "osprey garden," the Chesapeake Bay has the most concentrated population of osprey in the world. It won't be long now before the familiar cheep-cheep-cheep and majestic dives return to our waters. Simply put, we can't wait.

Safe travels, Woody, Tango, Quinn, and Nick!

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's E-Communications Manager


The Return of the Osprey

OspreyNest_KristiCarroll_CBFStaffPhoto by Kristi Carroll/CBF Staff.

Late last week, as I left the Merrill Center, I heard the distinctive cheep-cheep-cheep call of an osprey. Didn't see it, but heard the call twice. Sure enough, Litigation VP Jon Mueller reported seeing one over Black Walnut Creek Friday morning.    

Our ospreys "winter" in Central and South America and gauge their return by increasing length of daylight. This big fish hawk is right on time. Spring is on the way! 

Over the next couple of weeks, the other three will arrive on the two platforms here (making two pairs), as other birds arrive on several hundred other platforms and aids to navigation up and down the Chesapeake and its rivers. Mates will reunite (they normally winter apart), breed, and begin re-building their nests. Spring and summer are busy times for osprey families, and their antics never fail to delight us as the young hatch, grow, fledge, and learn to fish, before departing south just after Labor Day.     

John Page Williams
CBF's Senior Naturalist

Learn more about osprey and other Chesapeake critters on our website here!