Sadly our 2013 Osprey Cam season is not to be. About a week before our first egg was to hatch, two of the three eggs disappeared. We did see some periods where the parents were off the nest during a rain storm, and it’s possible a predator came in and took the eggs. Based on the lateness of this year’s eggs and the behavior of our parents, we believed these were new parents, and this would be a classic “newbie” mistake.
Our one remaining egg hatched on June 17, but the chick never looked very active (it didn’t sit up a lot) and on June 21 it became obvious from the parents’ behavior that the chick didn’t make it. It did look like the parents had been feeding it, but if the chick had health problems and was not actually eating, there wasn’t a lot the parents could do.
After the chick was lost, our parents hung around the nest for a little while and deposited something that looked like a bird’s wing in the nest. Ospreys have been observed adding the wings of dead birds to their nests (they don’t prey on birds, so it’s assumed they collect them from deceased birds). Oddly enough this item (whatever it was) was placed right over the former nest cup.
Since that time there have been a few observations of the parents around the nest, including today when I saw one of the parents out in the marsh across from the cam nest. We also haven’t seen any eagles on the cam nest, and that normally means the ospreys are still defending it, so as long as the osprey parents are around protecting the nest, we probably won’t see any eagles perching on the platform, which they like to do since it’s near the Blackwater River. In late August, we would expect the osprey parents to start on migration, and then we will probably see eagles perching on the cam nest.
Despite the loss of our chick, we have seen some success at another nest along our Wildlife Drive at Blackwater Refuge. The video below was taken at a water-based platform right before the Osprey Cam nest, and you can see from the video that there are three healthy chicks, which are visible when the father osprey brings in a fish for the hungry family. James O’Guinn took this video and shared it on our Facebook page — thanks, James!
In you’re thinking about visiting Blackwater Refuge during the summer, you’re sure to see plenty of ospreys — including this family — and also quite a few adult and immature bald eagles flying around, so be sure to come out for a visit. You can learn more about visiting on our website.