If you see two ospreys living outside of Rocky Mountain National Park that look like they’re wearing backpacks, don’t be alarmed. They’ve been inducted into a unique osprey satellite transmitter tracking project, a joint effort among RMNP, the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO), and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
Osprey are fish-eating birds of prey that breed in North American habitats and migrate down to Mexico, Central and South America during the colder winter months. The tracking study will help biologists more fully understand the life cycle of osprey—including where they migrate to, their stopover sites and their winter ranges—in order to “effectively conserve neotropical bird populations,” reports Estes Park News.
In this effort to better understand the migration patterns of local ospreys, last summer Shadow and Rainbow, two female ospreys who nest in the Arapaho National Recreation Area, were outfitted with solar-powered satellite tracking units that they wear like a backpack. These units then communicate with satellites three times per day to determine the birds’ exact locations. Biologists will record these locations for the next two to three years. So far, the birds have traveled more than 1,300 miles from Lake Granby down to the east coast of Mexico.
The program also presents a learning opportunity for both the public and schools, who can follow Rainbow Rainbow Traker and Shadow Shadow Tracker themselves. Through the combined efforts of the NPS, RMBO and the forest service students in local schools will create maps of where the birds go, learn about the satellite technology being used to track them and better understand the way knowledge and conservation go hand in hand.
There are also Osprey Cams focused on nests in nearby locations around Colorado such as the two following videos show.
For more information about the program, visit www.rmbo.org/v3/OurWork/Science_/Research/RaptorMigration.aspx.