Journeys: Ospreys, Technology, and an Author

by ornithologist Rob Bierregaard

Hosted by HLFM director Pierce Rafferty

This recorded illustrated talk, presented March 19, 2023 by ornithologist Rob Bierregaard, brings to light several decades of research on the ecology and migratory patterns of Ospreys, work that has been greatly aided by evolving technology. This virtual talk also reveals Rob’s own journey to becoming a first-time children’s book author.

Between 2000 and 2017 Rob Bierregaard and his colleagues placed GPS satellite transmitters on 47 adult and 61 juvenile Ospreys from South Carolina to the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada. Most of these were birds tagged in southern New England, including two from Fisher’s Island, nine from the Westport River in southeastern MA, and four Rhode Island Ospreys from Conanicut Island.

During the 18 years Rob and his team studied Osprey migration, the technology went through three major upgrades. With each advance in the technology, new questions about Osprey migration and ecology could be answered. Rob will describe how each of the technological innovations—a sort of journey of its own—helped us understand more and more of the mysteries of the journeys Ospreys make as they navigate from their nesting territories to South American wintering waters often more than 4,000 miles from their nests, how, on a more local scale, as they travel around their home territories in search of fish during the breeding season, and finally, as young Ospreys work their way into the breeding population.