Mordecai Island Eagles

Remote Nest Monitoring

A pair of bald eagles has been observed using an osprey nesting platform on Mordecai Island in New Jersey's Barnegat Bay during the early 2021 nesting season. If the pair builds a nest on the platform, it would be the island's first bald eagle nest, and also the first recorded nest attempt on a barrier island in New Jersey. One of the eagles has been observed to be wearing a green field-readable auxiliary band.

photo by Michele Budd

A partnership between the Mordecai Land Trust, New Jersey Fish and Wildlife, and the Little Egg Foundation is non-invasively monitoring the nesting attempt carefully using two motion-activated cameras.

Camera 1 is a high-definition, motion-activated video camera with a specialized lens capable of focusing at a distance of 18 inches. It is mounted to the nesting platform and aimed carefully to both document any nest construction and also to capture any bands worn by eagles who enter the nest bowl.

Camera two is a high speed, motion-activated cellular camera trap staked to the ground at a distance, capturing all motion at the nesting platform and logging the entry and exit of any birds to or from the platform.

The data collected through monitoring will help give advance notice of a forming nest, allowing time to prepare any special protections the nest might require in this unique and highly accessible location. Any of the pair's activity at the platform provides insight into how bald eagles choose nesting sites in the Barnegat Bay area.

The Little Egg Foundation is grateful for our partners in this fascinating project.

photo by Ann Coen

Project Results

After one month monitoring remotely, it has been determined that a serious nesting attempt was not being made on the platform. No nesting material was delivered to the platform, and no evidence of nest building was observed.

An unbanded, four year old eagle was observed sporadically yet regularly using the platform for fishing, eating, and loafing. A mate or second eagle was never observed on camera during the monitoring period.

Thanks to the real-time monitoring of the platform, it was also determined that the eagle using the Mordecai osprey platform is not one of the local, nesting pair of eagles from across the bay.

Video Highlights

Even though an eagles' nest will not form on Mordecai Island in the 2021, it is joy simply to have these animals visiting the island and utilizing this special habitat. The presence of bald eagles here is an important reminder of why the work of groups like the Mordecai Land Trust preserving these habitats for us is so important. The Little Egg Foundation strongly encourages you to support the Mordecai Land Trust.

Below is a short video of a few clips from the primary band camera. Enjoy this unique glimpse of life on Mordecai Island.

Photos from the field

Thank you to everyone who shared their time and resources. Most especially, Kathy Clark from NJFW, Michele Budd from the Mordecai Land Trust, Barry & Nicole of Beach Haven's Barry's Do Me A Flavor for the use of their boat, and Ann Coen of Ann Coen Photo for captaining and taking such great photos.


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