Monthly Archives: June 2014

Reptilian Stage

Reptilian stage

We’re happy to report that our two chicks appear to be doing well. They’re a little over two weeks old and in their reptilian stage, which means their down has become darker and woolier. Osprey expert Alan Poole says this is a stage when “they are black, scaly, and often crouch at danger, reminiscent of their reptilian ancestors.” If you’d like to seem some excellent close-up photos of the reptilian stage and the incoming pin feathers, check out these Maurice River, New Jersey osprey gallery photos.

If you look closely at the Osprey Cam when the chicks are visible, you can also see a white stripe down their backs. When they lie in the nest, this stripe helps camouflage them and makes them blend into the sticks in the nest, so they’re not as visible to predators that are flying over.

As for food, our parents seem to be bringing in a decent amount of meals. Our Osprey Cam platform is directly in front of the Blackwater River, which is the heart of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. The river gets its name because tannic acid from decaying leaves on the forest floor darkens the water, which drains from thousands of acres into the river whenever it rains.

According to the Center for Conservation Biology, “the diet of ospreys in the Chesapeake Bay varies by salinity, with Atlantic menhaden and seatrouts (Cynoscion spp.) the most common prey item for breeding pairs within the saltier waters of the lower Bay, whereas gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) and catfish (Ictaluridae) dominated in the fresher waters of tributaries.” Blackwater River is somewhat near the middle of the Bay and has brackish water, so osprey meals include shad, bullhead catfish, carp and perch. Every great once in a while, we hear stories of ospreys eating snakes or squirrels, but it’s rare, with an osprey’s diet being about 99% fresh fish.

If you’d like to learn more about fish species in the Chesapeake Bay, be sure to check out the handy interactive field guide on the Chesapeake Bay Program website.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: chick, reptilian stage | 2 Comments

Two-Chick Clutch

Father osprey on camera armWe held off in posting an update on our 2014 clutch because we wanted to be sure that the third chick was going to make it. Unfortunately, he did not. I went to Blackwater NWR today and watched the monitor and also talked to our helpful volunteers who work right by the cam monitor throughout the day. They reported that the third chick looked very weak from the start, and they hadn’t seen him in over a day. I did not see him during the time that I was watching, but I did see the other two chicks looking very active and alert.

So it looks like we have a two-chick clutch for the 2014 season. If these are the same parents from last year, then they aren’t very old and it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to produce a third chick that didn’t make it. Although we’re sad to see the youngest go, it’s more merciful if he didn’t linger too long in the nest, with his much stronger siblings making his life difficult.

Speaking of the siblings, even though they’re only a few days old, they’re already pecking at each other and trying to gain an advantage, as you can see in the video below. In addition to the chicks going at it, you’ll also see the parents were involved in a “fight” of sorts. Look carefully at the :44 mark, and you’ll see what appears to be the father go zooming by and then circle back to land on the cam arm. We’re not sure what they were chasing, but I do know there was a bald eagle perched in the stand of trees to the left of the cam nest (our left), and the osprey parents might have been reacting to him if he flew out of the trees. Also, when you see the camera shake during the video, it’s because the father has landed on the camera arm above the nest. If you look in the photo I posted on this page, you can see him perched there. He likes to hang out in that spot when the mother is on the nest with the young.

For those keeping score, here is the update:

1st egg:
Laid: 4/23
Hatched: 6/1

2nd egg:
Laid: 4/26
Hatched: 6/3

3rd egg:
Laid: 4/29
Hatched: 6/4

Thanks to those sending in their photos of the chicks. We’ll have a gallery update soon.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Contact Us

Categories: chick, eggs | 1 Comment

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