Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Day in the Life

We’re not sure if our mother osprey has left on migration, but if she hasn’t, her time is very close. The female adult leaves first on migration, while the male adult will stay behind and watch over the youngsters until they are ready to leave for migration. Our two chicks — Flight and Feather — might leave on migration together, but none of the family members will make the long journey with one another. Each bird will fly most of the way on their own and choose their preferred winter habitat down south. The two adults will return to the place where they’ve spent past winters, and our two youngsters will get to pick out their new winter non-breeding grounds. The young birds will stay down south through the next summer and then return the following spring to this area as adults, where they will try to find a mate and a nesting spot. The map below shows the path our birds will likely take to their winter non-breeding grounds.

Osprey Migration

Osprey Migration

Many ospreys have been tracked with satellites on their journeys south, and researchers have discovered that our Mid-Atlantic ospreys often settle in the northern parts of South America, although some might go farther south (down toward the Amazon) or even stop short in Cuba. If you’re interested in some of the research that has been done on osprey migration, be sure to visit osprey biologist Rob Bierragaard’s website — he has recent migration maps for ospreys from the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas, including a few maps for birds from the Chesapeake Bay.

We have a new video to share — this shows our family about 12 days ago, before the mother would have left, and you can see the family hanging out in the Blackwater River (right in front of their nest), on the platform, and in the sky. The bird in the sky was definitely a chick, and the bird struggling with the fish on the post appeared to be an adult (probably the male).

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Fledgling Chicks

Osprey Chicks Flying

Osprey Chicks Flying

As we reported on the cam page last week, both our chicks are now flying. They fledged within a few days of each other and both have been safely in and out of the nest many times since then, which we were happy to see because sometimes chicks get into trouble on those first flights. But both chicks are doing well and are clearly enjoying their newfound freedom. We have noticed that they like to fly up to the camera arm that sticks out from the platform. This is a favorite perching spot for the father, and it’s like a handy “branch” where the chicks can perch after a short hop. Anytime you see the camera view jump around (like on the video below) you can tell that one of the ospreys has either landed on or flown off of the wooden arm.

So in addition to the camera arm, you might wonder where the chicks go when they fly away. In the photo below you can get a better perspective of the area around the platform. If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see the Osprey Cam platform is on the far left. Immediately below it is an impoundment pond and in front of it is the Wildlife Drive and the large Blackwater River. In the distance on the left side of the platform is a large group of trees where eagles sometimes perch (out of view in this photo), and to the right of the platform is a wetland area with shrubs and small plants. This is the environment where the ospreys will go exploring and will learn to fish, and this is the location that will be imprinted on them — which means it’s the location where they will likely return when they’re adults and are ready to breed.

Osprey Cam and Blackwater River

Osprey Cam and Blackwater River

If you visit the Refuge and you don’t see the birds in the nest, look across the road in the Blackwater River, and you might see them perched out there. You might also see one perched in the wetlands area to the right of the platform. And of course you could also see them in the air, flying around the platform. Keep in mind that the best way to distinguish a juvenile osprey from an adult osprey is to look for the tan-colored tips on the feathers of the juvenile birds, as seen below. Adults do not have the tan-colored tips on their feathers.

Juvenile Osprey

Juvenile Osprey

The video below was captured Saturday and offers some nice shots of our chicks flying in and out of the nest. The parent (might be the mother) is just hanging out in the nest, watching her young practicing their new skills of taking off and landing. Soon the chicks will begin work on their fishing skills, which they’ll need before they leave for migration in September.

One final note we wanted to mention: As some cam watchers know, the mother osprey is the first to leave on migration. We expect her to hang around for a couple more weeks, but by mid or late August she will head south and the father will be responsible for watching over the chicks until they leave on migration in September. We’ll talk more about migration in the next post.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Contact Us

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

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