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.
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.