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Michigan DNR Gives Osprey Chicks GPS Backpacks

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is monitoring osprey chicks via GPS backpacks in order to learn how to better help the population recover in Michigan.

Osprey had nearly disappeared from Michigan due to the effects of DDT and other pesticides and habitat loss, but the trend is reversing.

In 2013, the DNR identified at least 56 active nests in southern Michigan, an increase from the single active nest reported in 2002.

The Michigan DNR fit six osprey chicks with backpack satellite units. The units help scientists track the birds’ daily movements and seasonal migration patterns.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to place GPS units on several ospreys this year,” said Julie Oakes, Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist. “This will provide the DNR with not only information on what migration routes the birds take, but also insight into what perils they must endure on their migration.”

The birds are named: Corie, Harvist, Rachel, Aldo, DTE, and Daniel.

In 2013, three osprey chicks were given GPS backpacks in southeast Michigan. One chick banded near Estral Beach migrated to Cuba. A chick from Kensington Metropark ventured to Colombia, and one from Pinckney found good fishing sites on a golf course in Miami.

Unfortunately, all three chicks with backpacks perished in 2013.

Approximately 60 percent of the osprey chicks hatched each year do not make it to their second birthday. Threats include great horned owls, collisions with buildings and other structures, weather, and illegal shooting of birds in Central and South America.

The backpacks are funded by grants from DTE Energy, Huron Valley Audubon, photographer Lou Waldock, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, and American Tower Corporation.

Follow along and track the birds’ paths.

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