Ace Partnerships: Celebrating The Osprey’s Power & Utility

Always nice to see Atlantic City Electric out at a pole in a non-emergency situation.

Some of you might recognize this Osprey nest in Barnegat Light from the recent Reading, We’re Flying So They Don’t Have To. This is the first nest in New Jersey to be successfully surveyed by Ben Wurst using a lightweight drone. The trial was a raging success and resulted in a sum total of zero disturbance to the nest.

So, since we did such a good job leaving the birds alone when surveying, it is now time to create a massive disturbance to them by sending Ben Wurst up to the nest in a big, noisy ol’ utility truck.

Ben Wurst & Atlantic City Electric have a few things in common: a deep respect for safety, and Osprey Fever.

Now, you’d think that the same attributes which made this nest such a great drone candidate (it is extremely high and inaccessible) would also make it a terrible candidate for banding its young. While that’s true, its position on a quiet road along the bay also makes it a perfect place to strengthen the partnership between Atlantic City Electric, The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, and the Osprey. It is a really important partnership for all of us.

Probably The Best Part Of The Job

We’re all very lucky (the Osprey especially) that this pair chose to nest on an inactive pole in Barnegat Light. That is not always the case. Both Osprey and Eagles, unfortunately, love to choose incredibly dangerous and dicey safety hazards like active utility structures as the “perfect” place to raise their families.

When they do this, they endanger themselves, they endanger the grid, and they endanger the good folks at Atlantic City Electric who have to deal with it.

Thankfully, Atlantic City Electric has a deep respect for safety as well as a slight case of Osprey Fever. Under the skilled leadership of their Principal Environmental Scientist, Christina Frank, Atlantic City Electric is always at the ready to deal swiftly and skillfully with an Osprey or Eagle who happen to make a terrible call on a summer rental. And other times they are willing to lend their equipment, and a helping hand, when an Osprey gets entangled or injured in a location too tall to reach by ladder.

Mama Watches Ben Closely

It is so nice to be out here with the crew and the Osprey without some tragedy or emergency.

~ Christina Frank, Principal Environmental Scientist for Atlantic City Electric

And so our very own nest in Barnegat Light was chosen as the site for a little Osprey pow-wow between Ben Wurst, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, and the good folks at Atlantic City Electric. A large crew attended as this was an excellent opportunity to observe, to practice, to train, to document, and to record how to deal with Osprey on utility structures in a calm, safe, non-emergency type situation.

Ethical Photography: always maintain a safe distance, even if you only have a cellphone.

Sadly for the crew, Ben did the banding up at the nest. We were all hoping the babies would be brought down so everyone could get a closer look at these magnificent animals that they work so hard, and sometimes take extreme risks, to protect. But this was an exercise which was all about safety and Ben determined it would be safest not to move the young.

It was a good call as soon large groups of curious Islanders began gathering in the road below, asking questions and sharing Osprey stories. You could, literally, hear the contagion of Osprey Fever infecting the Barnegat Light community. We’re so lucky to have these animals here, as well as so many great people to admire and to advocate for them.

The babies watch us leave, as suddenly and mysteriously as we arrived.

It was a big, noisy operation but was over as quickly as it began. While the dramatic sight of two massive utility trucks hovering over a fragile, precarious Osprey nest might appear unnecessarily disruptive, we have to ask ourselves how we’d feel when our power goes down while a young osprey hangs upside down from a live wire, flailing around and screaming! We need folks with the experience and skill to deal with it.

Daddy’s Home! Don’t let this photo deceive you. Dad spent the entire time sitting lazily on the mast of a tall ship in the distance while Mom fussed over Ben & The ACE Crew. But that’s how things shake out in an Osprey family. They are the truest partnerships. Dad does 100% of the fishing, while Mom does 100% of the nest care.
Now that the banding is over, Mom can get back to her more common disturbances; like getting constantly harassed by Lucy the Red Winged Black Bird.

Thank you Ben Wurst, thank you Christina Frank, and thank you everyone at Atlantic City Electric for showing so much compassion towards our Osprey. The next time you see an ACE truck out on the job, honk if you love Osprey! Actually, don’t do that. Their work surely requires focus and concentration.

So, what about Barnegat Light’s two new babies? They are gorgeous… and feisty. While adult Osprey will fiercely defend against threats, the young usually just play dead when confronted by scary things like Ben Wurst. Normally at an Osprey nest, the babies will just like flat and motionless like a couple of turds. But not in the Barnegat Light nest! The smaller of the two, the Runt, had absolutely no problem demonstrating his burgeoning Osprey attitude, standing up to Ben Wurst, his band necklace, and even the GoPro. Enjoy watching one of our new babies discovering his Osprey powers and demonstrating his Island spirit.