Charlie the Osprey has Gone Missing

by Jane Ahrens

We recently received some sad news about Osprey Charlie. As part of the ongoing collaboration between the H.L. Ferguson Museum and a wider effort to track annual Osprey migrations, Charlie was the 2nd osprey tagged on Fishers Island by ornithologist Rob Bierregaard. Rob had previously tagged Osprey Edwin and tracks many osprey, sharing their journeys through his website blog

As tagged osprey migrate south each fall they are tracked by the signals picked up on cell towers they pass. There are some areas between Florida and Cuba, and in South America, where certain osprey have gone dark – but later their signal reappears.

The best way to demonstrate the monitoring process and the rise of concern about Charlie’s fate is to share the timeline of his migration last fall that led Rob to conclude that Charlie is gone. (Although Rob has been tracking 13, we have edited to concentrate on Fishers Island’s tagged birds, Charlie and Edwin. These timeline posts are a combination of the Ferguson Museum updates and Rob’s ospreytrax blog.

September 25, 2015 (HLFM):
After 6 days of migration, Charlie was last tracked along the southern shoreline of Florida, before his data went “dark”.

October 13, 2015 (Ospreytrax):
At least eight birds are across the Caribbean. I say ‘at least’ because Fishers Island male Charlie may be across. He’s a cell-tower bird who could be anywhere now between Cuba and South America. We last heard from him on 26 Sept, so he’s had enough time to get to South America if he hasn’t been distracted by some lake full of fish…Our other Fishers Island male, Edwin, is presumably safely ensconced at his winter spot along the Amazon. He was last heard from in Colombia, just north of the Amazon rainforest, on the 8th of September after a very early start this year.


October 20, 2015 (Ospreytrax):
Our peripatetic male Edwin, tagged on Fishers Island but now an Osprey in search of a home anywhere but Fishers Island is presumably safely ensconced at his winter spot along the Amazon. This is his third fall migration, and he’s been as predictable as all his predecessors. I’m a bit worried about his former Fishers Island neighbor Charlie, who was last heard from in southern Florida and has been off the grid since 26 Sept. Last year he was on his wintering grounds in northern Colombia on the 5th of October, and he was in a good spot for cell tower coverage, so this has the feel of a bird lost somewhere over Cuba or the Caribbean, just like DJ last fall. It would be a real shame to lose Charlie because I’m dying to see if he does a crazy spring migration through Central America as he did this spring.

November 11 to December 13, 2015 (HLFM):
Charlie’s data was picked up again along the banks of Presa Jimaguayu (reservoir) in Camaguey Cuba. On December 3, Charlie continued southeast to Granma Cuba and spent the night along Rio Buey, then visited other waterways further east from Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, and Guantanamo through December 8December 9 Charlie headed south to Haiti and continued east to reach the Dominican Republic on December 13.

December 13 to 19, 2015 (HLFM):
December 13 Charlie reached the southeastern area of Bahoruco Province in the Dominican Republic and remained for the night. On his second day in the Dominican Republic, Charlie headed west to Lake Enriguilllo (a hypersaline lake, and the largest lake in the Caribbean). He then headed east to the center of Bahoruco province. Charlie remained in the center of Bahoruco Province December 15-19, along the southern edge of the Sierra de Neiba mountain range. After that, he may have gone out of cell range because we have not yet received another transmission.

January 26, 2016 (Ospreytrax):
It has been a tough winter. Our Fishers Island male Charlie, who surprisingly popped up in December on Hispaniola, settled down at a fish farm in the Dominican Republic and was almost certainly shot there. We had a couple of days of locations at the same spot at the edge of the fish farm and then nothing after 19 Dec, so we’re pretty sure we lost him.

Nine birds show up on this map. Six are actively transmitting. Two cell-tower birds (Quin and Edwin) have probably settled out of range of towers and thus do not show up on the map. Three birds (Charlie, Donovan, and Gundersen) have stopped sending signals, so we believe they all died.


Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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