After dodging hurricanes, Harriet the osprey last heard from in Puerto Rico

Harriet the osprey takes off after her release in July 2017. Her transmitter is visible against her wing. (Craig Koppie / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Some Bay Journal readers have wondered what became of Harriet, an osprey nesting in Masonville Cove in Baltimore that last summer was fitted with a transmitter allowing biologists to track her movements.

Harriet’s journey was chronicled in our Bay Naturalist column last November, which recounted how she left Baltimore Sept. 7, covering 1,126 miles in her journey’s first 10 days to Boot Key in Florida, where she apparently waited out bad weather before continuing on to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on a migratory trek that was next expected to take her over more than 500 miles of open water en route to her South America wintering ground.

Unfortunately, said Kathy Reshetiloff, of the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Office, who writes Bay Naturalist, Harriet probably never made it.

“Last year, after dodging several hurricanes, Harriet was tracked to an area in southern Puerto Rico,” she told us. “The last satellite transmission was on Nov. 4, 2017 (near San Lorenzo). There are several possibilities for why transmissions stopped: The transmitter was no longer attached to Harriet; the solar-powered battery stopped receiving enough power to send out a signal; or Harriet ran into some unfortunate circumstances and possibly perished.

“This last scenario is most likely due to the fact that this tagged osprey did not return to the same area this year to nest.”

We sometimes take the spectacular migration of birds for granted without fully appreciating how hazardous they are. If we learn anything more about Harriet, we will pass it on.

Karl Blankenship is the founding editor of the Bay Journal and Bay Journal Media. You can reach him at kblankenship@bayjournal.com.

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