Monthly Archives: May 2015

Update on Eggs

Three eggs at Osprey Cam

Three eggs at Osprey Cam

We’re about two weeks from the possible start of hatching and fortunately all is quiet on the nest. The eggs look good (when we can spot them in the sticks and grass) and the parents are on the ball so far with incubating. We haven’t seen any intruder ospreys or other disturbances at the nest, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that things will continue to progress normally.

If you visit the Wildlife Drive at Blackwater Refuge you’ll see four water nests around the road (all man-made platforms), and right now we have osprey couples in all of them, so it’s shaping up to be a good season. In addition, we have a new natural nest near our photography blind. Last year, at the end of the nesting season, we saw this nest being built. It was so late in the season that we assumed it was a “frustration nest,” which is a nest built by a couple that failed to produce chicks. Over the winter the nest blew down (it’s very exposed), but this year it returned even bigger and now we can see an adult incubating inside. We hope this couple has a successful season, since we’re excited to see a natural nest along the Drive.

Natural nest along the Wildlife Drive

Natural nest along the Wildlife Drive

In other osprey news, we heard about the soap opera going on at Loch Garten in Scotland. The normally reliable Odin went missing and left EJ on the nest with her eggs. A new male took advantage of Odin’s absence and began to woo EJ. When EJ took a break from her eggs to eat, the new male destroyed Odin’s eggs (something a challenging male will do). But then Odin returned, and now it’s not clear who will be the resident male.

Although we get some drama occasionally with our eagles, ospreys do seem to be especially skilled in surprising us with their antics.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: eggs, incubation, osprey cam | 2 Comments

Welcome to the 2015 Season!

Three eggs on 2015 Osprey Cam nest

Welcome to another season of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Osprey Cam. Blackwater Refuge is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (near the Chesapeake Bay) and we’ve been broadcasting images from this man-made platform since 2001. The nest sits close to the Blackwater River, which is a popular fishing location for our many ospreys and bald eagles. This protected habitat, along with the shallow river and plentiful fish, give raptors the perfect environment in which to raise a family.

During the last two seasons we’ve had some bad luck at the platform with eggs going missing (2013) and a possible predator taking the chicks (2014). We’re hoping that if these parents are the same from the last two seasons that they’ve matured and are ready to properly protect their eggs and young. As for our scorecard, here is where we stand:

  • 1st egg:
    Laid: April 21
    Possible hatch: May 27-June 2
  • 2nd egg:
    Laid: April 24
    Possible hatch: May 30 – June 5
  • 3rd egg:
    Laid: April 27
    Possible hatch: June 2 – 8

As you can see in the photo below, osprey eggs contain a variety of patterns and colors, which help them better blend into the material in the nest. However, the color variations on osprey eggs have not always been a good thing. In fact, the beautiful coloring is one of the things that motivated egg collectors to steal eggs from osprey nests in places like Scotland and England, where the collectors decimated osprey populations.

Osprey eggs by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Osprey eggs by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Fortunately ospreys are making a comeback and their populations are doing well in many places around the world. One of the chief reasons for this is that ospreys are willing to nest in man-made structures, and this flexibility means they have had an easier time finding nesting spots where other birds have struggled to find a home due to coastal development. In fact, ospreys are so flexible in their nesting locations that you can even see several nests built atop highway signs on Rt. 50 near the Chesapeake Bay. It’s hard to imagine that an osprey couple could think this is a good spot, with all the cars whizzing by right beneath their nest, but they come back each year.

Ospreys on Rt 50 near Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Ospreys on Rt 50 near Chesapeake Bay Bridge by Donna Wadsley

If you visit Blackwater Refuge and go out on our Wildlife Drive, you’ll see several water platforms sitting in the Blackwater River where ospreys are nesting. Ospreys often prefer to nest over water because it reduces the danger from land predators. Our Osprey Cam platform is on land, but it is very high in the air, and this height helps keep land predators, such as snakes and raccoons, from bothering the birds. Aerial predators are still a threat, however, and we believe that last year a Great horned owl might have been the predator that got our chicks.

Folks have often asked why we don’t put a cover over the nest to help shade and “hide” the chicks. Unfortunately if we did that, the ospreys would likely stop nesting there because the adults always prefer a clear view of the sky over their nest.

We want to thank everyone for joining us for another nesting season, and we hope we’ll have better luck this year and can provide you with some osprey chicks to watch and enjoy.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: blackwater nwr, eggs, osprey cam | Leave a comment

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