Felix Neck is grateful for all the volunteers that help out at the wildlife sanctuary. For this Volunteer Spotlight, we spoke with Jean Loud about her volunteer experience.
Jean Loud has been a volunteer with the Osprey Monitoring Program for 30 years. In 1987, she and her family helped former Sanctuary Director Gus Ben David put up osprey pole #88, which you may know as the prodigious nest standing at the mouth of Oak Bluffs Harbor.
As a steward of this nest, Jean has watched breeding osprey inhabiting it every year since its inception. Through spring, summer, and fall, she carefully monitors its progress—first determining if the female has laid eggs, then if chicks have hatched, and finally, watching and waiting to see if the chicks fledge the nest and take their first flight.
Jean said that the ospreys “have been a gentle reminder of the natural ebb and flow of spring, summer and fall.” When they head south, it is a reminder that winter winds are coming, and that “it is time to put away the lawn furniture, wrap the barbecue grill, and ready warm jackets for evening fall walks on [East] Chop.”
On summer visits to the Oak Bluffs Jetty Beach—where the nest is located—Jean engages beach-goers in conversations about osprey behavior, nesting habits, and how to view the nest from a safe distance that won’t disturb the birds. When asked what her favorite part of volunteering for this project is, she remarked that “it’s been a great opportunity to encourage people to honor our unique, precious natural environment on Martha’s Vineyard.”
She quoted author Christopher Hitchens, saying that “though it is true we are the highest and smartest animals, ospreys have eyes we have calculated to be sixty times more powerful and sophisticated than our own.”
About the Program
The Osprey Monitoring Program began in 1971, at which time there were only two breeding pairs of osprey on Martha’s Vineyard. With the help of Jean and over fifty other volunteer osprey monitors, we now know that 90 pairs bred successfully in 2016.
Countless island residents, visitors, and students have been engaged in the effort to conserve this iconic bird. If you’re interested in being involved with the Martha’s Vineyard Osprey Monitoring Program, contact Savannah Lawson by email or by calling 508-627-4850 x9412.