The nest is at the top of a communications tower above the Union Beach police station. From Keyport, take First Street out of town to a fork in the road and veer to the right. That will be Stone Road. Follow it when it swings to the left. Cross the intersection and park on a dirt lot on the right side of the road across from the police station. The tower will be on your left. The main entrance to the station is under the carport to the other side of the building, turn left and turn left again. Remember that it is a police station, so hanging around and taking photos could become an issue.
Look for 2 adults on the nest. The adult pair will show pair bonding behaviors such as vocalizations, aerial sky dances, and the male feeding the female fish. You may see the pair copulating, which typically begins 14 days before laying eggs.
Females will lay 1 - 4 eggs at a rate of one egg every 1 - 2 days. After laying, incubation starts. Look for adults taking turns sitting low in the nest incubating eggs. The incubation period can last 35 - 43 days.
Chicks hatch ~39 days after incubation begins. Look for adults bringing food to the nest and making "head bows" into the center. Chicks typically can't be seen until they are 2 - 3 weeks old, so feeding behavior is the only way to know chicks are there.
Around 4 weeks after hatching, look for the heads of chicks to show over the rim of the nest, particularly when adults bring food to the nest. Other times they lie flat and are harder to see. Count the number of chicks in the nest before they learn to fly
Chicks begin flying around 7 - 8 weeks old, and are still fed by the adults. Count the number of chicks who have successfully fledged the nest and are observed flying.
Chick Last Observed
4 - 10 weeks after fledging, chicks begin leaving the nest area to migrate south, once they have learned to fly and feed themselves. Record the date that the last chick left the nest.
Look for signs of nest failure like adult abandonment, adults no longer incubating eggs or feeding young.
There is evidence of nesting material at the center of the top of this tall communications tower, but I didn't see any birds. I entered the police station and two ladies at the reception desk suggested that the nest was active based on the raining excrement from above. I didn't see any signs of bird poop on the pavement below, so perhaps they are telling of one or more incidents in previous years? The two ladies were not appreciative of the birds, needless to say, so I wouldn't recommend future inquiries at the desk about bird sightings. A letter to Union Beach seeking cooperation on sightings, perhaps a joint reporting project between the Union Beach school district, the UBPD and Osprey Watch would work? The tower is perhaps 100' tall and the land around is relatively flat. Stone Road has a gradual rise, so perhaps a better view could be had from up the road but with a strong set of binoculars?