Birdwatching in the Digital Age in Barnegat Light

Osprey Looking Sharp While Inspiring Eco-Consciousness
By MARIA SCANDALE | Apr 23, 2019
Courtesy of: Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey NURSERY WATCH: A nesting osprey pair is on webcam display from Bayview Avenue, Barnegat Light. Eggs are expected to hatch in late May.

Barnegat Light — The newest reality show stars live in Barnegat Light – a sharp-eyed osprey couple and the egg-laden nest the female sits on.

The male’s inspiring role is to timely fetch a flounder, gallantly presenting it to the bird mom, who is pretty much homebound, tending what as of Tuesday were two prized eggs.

This new webcam on the bayside at 24th Street is making birdwatchers out of everybody. That’s what Ben Wurst of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of N.J. wants: to know the osprey is to love it, is to protect the environment it lives in.

The camera online from 35 feet in the sky can be found at

“We want people to appreciate these birds and the places they need to nest,” said Wurst, habitat program manager. “I always like to point out that there aren’t many nests on LBI proper. That comes down to the fact that there aren’t many parcels of (open) land on LBI.”

“I see many people saying everything’s getting overdeveloped,” he noted, adding that watching the stunning birds close-up impresses upon people to “really cherish these areas and make sure they remain protected.”

One step in caring for the world that humans and birds share is to curb pollution, which, particularly in the immediate region, includes plastic pollution.

“When I speak to groups, I could go on for probably hours about all the different threats they see,” he said. “One of the biggest we see here is plastic pollution. It’s everywhere. And here it’s nothing compared to urban areas.

“I think that goes to show we need to do a better job making sure we, in our daily lives, aren’t producing excess plastic trash; limiting our use of single-use bags,” amid other actions.

The webcam on Tuesday, April 23, pointed out a second hazard: balloons.

“When we get around the time of graduation, we always see an influx of balloons,” Wurst observed. It’s not even graduation time, and yet, “The camera now has a white balloon ribbon showing in there. It looks like eelgrass. And it’s very dangerous to both the adults and to chicks. It gets wrapped around the leg or the wing, and they can get entangled in it very easily.”

The webcam setup was funded by a grant from The Osprey Foundation. The wooden platform holding the nest was put up some time ago by the Garden Club of Long Beach Island.

It had not been used by ospreys until last year. Fortunately, the osprey population is increasing, but that also means nesting sites are in more demand.

“This one was closer to people, houses, traffic,” Wurst said, noting the nearby two-lane residential street, Bayview Avenue. “They generally can tolerate human activity around a tall nest like this.”

Watchers of the various Facebook pages that share the webcam live feed say they’re addicted to this rare view into the raptors’ existence.

“I love to see the intricate behaviors of their daily lives,” Wurst said.

Osprey nests can total three eggs, maybe four, if there’s a lot of food for the female.

“The camera will get even better when they’re hatching, so just wait,” Wurst told anyone watching, who, by the way, might live in countries around the world. Memorial Day weekend will start the “hatch watch.”

“LBI is a tight-knit community, and this will cause a lot of people to talk about it, and hopefully watch, and get more people to care about our environment. And do things to reduce their plastic use and everything.”

— Maria Scandale

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