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.
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.
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.