Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fledging is Near

Our chicks are about seven weeks old now and they’re spending more time flapping and gaining some air time over the nest, as you can see in this video.

It won’t be long before our chicks take their first flight. It might be a short one, with the chick returning quickly to the nest, or it might be a longer one if they make it to a nearby tree or decide to sit on the ground for a bit until they can make it back up to the nest. They might also just fly up to the top of the camera arm, where the male likes to perch — just out of our sight.

Speaking of fledging, the Dyfi Osprey Cam nest in Wales had three chicks fledge yesterday — all in the same morning. You can watch the interesting videos on their website.

Given that our chicks are very close in age and size, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them fledge close together. Often seeing one chick leave the nest greatly motivates the other to fly, too.

Finally, as we mentioned on the Osprey Cam page, we are starting the 2015 Osprey Chick-Naming Contest. It will run through August 1. Visit the contest page for details on entering, and please help us name our chicks.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Video of Mealtime

Two Osprey Chicks

Two Osprey Chicks

Our chicks are six weeks old and we’re happy to say that they seem to be doing splendidly (knock on wood). We haven’t seen any predators or threats to the chicks, and both chicks are getting plenty of food. In fact, they’re remarkably close in size and there seems to be no visible bullying or fighting at mealtime. After a couple seasons of problems on both the Eagle Cam and Osprey Cam, it’s very nice to have such a “dull” nest to watch. We hope it continues this way over the next few weeks, as the chicks work their way toward their first flight.

As you can see from the photos below, we have seen flapping from the chicks. At this stage in their lives, the chicks need to begin building up their wing muscles in preparation for flight, so we occasionally see them grip the nest with their talons (they need to be careful that the wind doesn’t take them out of the nest prematurely) and then open their wings and begin flapping. Eventually they’ll get to a point where they’ll begin to lift off the nest (also a time when they need to be careful to not get blown out) and hover a bit before landing back on the nest.

Osprey Chicks Flapping

Osprey Chicks Flapping

Back on the July 4th weekend, we captured the following video of our two chicks at mealtime. It was an interesting clip because of the unusual behavior on display. First, it was funny to watch the adult female practically mug the poor adult male when he landed with a fish. We don’t know if it had been a long time since he had last delivered a meal, but mom practically knocked him over trying to rip it away. Then oddly enough, she began mantling the meal (spreading her wings over it). You don’t normally see this behavior from a bonded pair, and when I saw it I wondered if maybe this wasn’t our resident male, but then I noticed a shadow pass over the nest and both parents begin calling out and looking up at the sky, so there must have been an osprey or eagle targeting the fish, and the female was doing her best to keep the meal safe.

In the next part of the clip you see the female feeding the two chicks. At one point, the chick on the right drops his food, and the clever chick on the left picks it up and takes it over to the side of the nest where he can eat in peace. Not long after this he goes back and swipes another piece from his sibling — apparently he learned that mom isn’t the only way to get a meal in the nest! Finally at the end of the video, the opportunistic chick returns to his mother’s side and begins eating the normal way.

One interesting thing to note about the chicks is how they’re maturing. When the clever chick is eating the piece he “borrowed” from his sibling, you see him drop it in the nest, but he picks it up and begins eating it again. This may seem like a small thing, but when the chicks were very young and they dropped food, they would wait for their parent to pick it up and feed them again — as if that was the only way they knew to receive food. So it’s interesting to see how the chicks are maturing and learning that they don’t need to wait around for the parent to “hand” them the food.

Since the chicks seem to be doing so well, we plan to open the Osprey Chick-Naming Contest later this week. We’ll keep it open for ten days and give our cam watchers a chance to submit their names for our two young birds. Keep an eye on the Osprey Cam page for the announcement.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Pin Feathers

Osprey Cam chicks with pin feathers

Osprey Cam chicks with pin feathers

Our two chicks are a month old and they seem to be doing well. Since they hatched so close together, and since the parents seem to bringing in a decent amount of food, we haven’t seen a lot of intimidation or competition between the chicks, and they appear to be very close in size.

The chicks are definitely losing their woolier, darker down and are now getting their pin feathers. Feathers come from follicles (tiny bumps) that grow in rows or tracts on the bird’s skin. When the feather first comes out, it is rolled and protected inside a tube-like sheath that contains blood vessels, which nourish the feather’s growth. The bluish-coloring in the sheaths is blood; this is why they’re called blood feathers. You can see the blue sheaths in the photo below.

Once the feather has developed and burst through the sheath, the protective tube will fall away or possibly the bird will pull it off while preening. The blood vessels will have withered and the quill will be the white color we are familiar with seeing. Blood feathers are sensitive and if broken or injured, can cause severe bleeding and even death. When a blood feather is broken, it must be removed so the follicle can close and a new feather can be born.

Pin feathers up close

Pin feathers up close

In our last blog post, we talked about last year’s event when our chicks disappeared, which we believe was due to a predator. We also talked about the fact that we believed it was likely an owl. One of the reasons we thought that was because we have many bald eagles at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and quite a few ospreys, and we have never seen an eagle take one of our Osprey Cam chicks. But recently a bald eagle took two chicks at the osprey cam at Hog Island in Maine. The video is a bit upsetting to see, but even more remarkable is how quickly the eagle takes the not-so-small chicks. Looking at this video clip, it makes the possibility of an eagle snatching an osprey chick very believable. Maybe we’ve just been lucky that we haven’t seen much of it at Blackwater Refuge because the eagles have a lot of other food types to choose from.

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

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