Jack & Wendy: Generations

Jack & Wendy’s beautiful baby. 2021. Red Banded 82/M. The next generation. Welcome to the family!

The highlight of every osprey nesting season is visiting the nest of Jack & Wendy, the world’s most dysfunctional osprey couple. Located in the small marsh out behind the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts & Sciences, this nest has received (and given) a ton of love over the years. It is a true treasure of the island (and of Readings From The Northside!) It even has its very own osprey blind where most of us can pretend that we are one of the fortunate families who live in the neighborhood surrounding the nest and get to watch Jack & Wendy all day long from the comfort of our kitchen.

While it was a tiny disappointment to find only one chick in the nest (if one baby is good, then three are better), it was a beautiful, healthy young osprey. It was a welcome sight after the 2020 season when Jack & Wendy’s nest experienced a rare and mysterious failure. I was so heart broken, I don’t think I even mentioned it here.

So, of course, Jack & Wendy’s offspring joined the elite club of Red Banded osprey and was banded 82/M.

Welcome to Barnegat Bay 82/M. I’m sure we’ll see you again soon.

And I say that I’m sure we’ll see 82/M again real soon, not with naive optimism, but with some firm conviction. Because we are now in the 7th season of Project Red Band, and we see the results everywhere. Barnegat Bay is lousy with Red Banded osprey! So much so that Ben & I are both spending all of our time furiously photographing every adult we see because the chances that a bird is Red Banded is going up exponentially. It is astounding, and we are starting to get a real sense of how well Barnegat Bay’s osprey survive and how exactly they disperse and form new nests and families. 

Red Banded Beauty, 32/H

You’ll read a lot more about this on the Readings soon. But here is a good case in point: just before we reached Jack & Wendy’s nest, we checked a new natural nest forming not even a half-mile to the south of Jack & Wendy. While it wasn’t successful, we were thrilled to discover that the young mom was an elite Red Banded osprey, 32/H. And soon, when dad flew in too, we were shook to discover that dad was also an elite Red Banded Osprey, 75/K. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever witnessed a formed pair of elite Red Banded osprey.

75/K, 2021, all paired up just south of his natal nest.

And can you guess where 75/K was born?

That’s right. Jack & Wendy’s nest in 2019! Can you find 75/K? Bonus points if you can find 73/K.
75/K in 2021. Two years later, he has returned to start his own home and family on LBI. Just like us.

When Ben and I dreamed up Project Red Band the first time we ever met 7 years ago, we had the modest goal of hoping to get to know a few of our local osprey better so we could better understand their survival and maintain their recovery. I don’t think we ever really believed that one day we’d be studying generations of Barnegat Bay’s most beloved, celebrity osprey familes.

Stay tuned for more great things from the 2021 osprey surveys. Project Red Band rules!

4 Comments

  1. I am a bit behind, but so excited to see this posting. And yes last year I waited and waited for your word on the failed nest, but totally understand how sad it was to report. Was it the wind storms, that bedeviling fox, the wiley coyote‘s? We will never know but I am happy to see one baby successful this year.

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