Monthly Archives: June 2015

Three Weeks Old

Osprey Chicks at Three Weeks

Osprey Chicks at Three Weeks

Our two chicks are now three weeks old and life at the nest seems to be good. The parents are bringing in a decent amount of fish and the chicks are clearly growing.

Another thing that’s noticeable at this stage is the big white stripe that runs down their backs. If a predator was flying over the nest, the stripe would make it harder to see the chick, since the stripe helps the chick blend into the nest material.

At this age, the chicks are 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.” They do seem to spend a lot of time lying down in the nest, except at mealtime.

Another milestone we can’t help but recognize is June 23/24 is about the time that last year’s chicks were taken — likely by a Great horned owl or a bald eagle. Not long after our chicks disappeared, the chicks at a popular water nest not far from the Osprey Cam nest also disappeared, which seemed to clearly indicate a predator. In addition, one of our Facebook fans captured this photo of a Great horned owl not far from the two osprey nests, and we know for a fact that the owls live and nest at Blackwater NWR.

Great Horned Owl, credit: USFWS

Great Horned Owl, credit: USFWS

The Audubon Guide to North American Birds states that the Great horned owl is “Aggressive and powerful in its hunting (sometimes known by nicknames such as “tiger owl”), it takes prey as varied as rabbits, hawks, snakes, and even skunks, and will even attack porcupines, often with fatal results for both prey and predator.” Great horned owls are also known as one of the few animals that are a threat to ospreys because the owls can take out not only the chicks but also the mother osprey sleeping on the nest. Considering how large and powerful a female osprey is, that’s pretty impressive.

But before we get too down on the Great horned owl, it’s important to note that they do help control the rodent population. In fact, we probably wouldn’t want to live in a world where owls weren’t helping to control the rodent population.

Finally, for those who wonder how a large female osprey could fail to protect her chicks from a Great horned owl, we offer the following video that shows how difficult it would be. FYI: This is not for the squeamish.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Update on Third Chick

We have some sad news about our third chick. We lost him today. Yesterday afternoon during a feeding session, the youngest chick (on the right in the video below) appeared to either get injured or stuck in some part of the nest material. He was not able to move from the spot that you see in the video. Apparently the parents weren’t able to help him, assuming they realized he was in distress.

Today was a very hot day, so we know he didn’t survive being on his own in the corner of the nest (and not shaded by the mother, like the other two chicks), so right now we have a two-chick brood.

We were worried about the third chick, but we didn’t expect this to be the reason he didn’t survive. In fact, in all the years we’ve been watching this nest and the Eagle Cam nest (since 2001), we’ve never seen a feeding incident like this. At first we thought he got injured by the fish the mother dropped over him, but if you look at the video, he seems to go down right before that, so we’re not sure what happened, but the parents were not able to assist him.

The good news is our other two chicks look strong and are getting big, so we’re encouraged by their apparent good health and the amount of fish the parents are bringing in.

Watching wildlife cams is interesting because you never know what you’re going to see, but unfortunately sometimes what you see is sad or upsetting.

We want to thank our cam watcher Trish for capturing this episode, so we could see what happened.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Three Chick Brood

Three Chicks on Osprey Cam

Three Chicks on Osprey Cam

We wanted to post this update yesterday, but for some reason YouTube wasn’t making it easy to upload a video, so we had to wait until today. At the moment, we have three chicks. We say “at the moment” because as those who follow osprey cams know, sometimes the third chick doesn’t make it for the long haul, so we’re watching carefully to see if he can hang in there. The good news is that the chicks hatched about 24 hours apart, so at least for now, the first chick doesn’t have a huge advantage in size.

Here is the final scorecard:

  • 1st egg:
    Laid: April 21
    Hatched: June 1
  • 2nd egg:
    Laid: April 24
    Hatched: June 2
  • 3rd egg:
    Laid: April 27
    Hatched: June 3

The first chick was late in hatching, but the other two chicks hatched a bit early, so that put them very close together. Last week was a bit wet and cool, but all the chicks came through fine (if a wet spring persists, it can be bad news for osprey chicks), so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that they’ll continue to grow and thrive.

Below is the video we captured at the Refuge over the weekend. The father flew in with a fish and was eating the fish on the camera arm (you see the camera shake when he flies down). He then shared the good-sized fish with the mother, who fed the three chicks. The youngest (in the back) didn’t get a lot in this clip, but the feeding session was long, and toward the end he got more food, once the two older chicks were full.

Thanks to those who have sent in photos for the gallery. The chicks are hard to see in the nest, and then the parents put up some large sticks right in front of the camera, so we know capturing images of the chicks has been very challenging. We’ll update the gallery later this week.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: chick, eggs, osprey cam | Leave a comment

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