incubation

Checking In With the Parents

From what we can tell, our parents are doing well. They’re sharing incubation duties and we’ve seen both of them on a regular basis, so no surprises there. We’re still a couple weeks away from hatching, so we hope things continue to go well for our one egg.

Speaking of our parents, something I forgot to post in the last entry was this wonderful photo showing a comparison of how our Osprey Cam nest appeared when the first osprey arrived back (probably the male) and what it looked like after almost three weeks of nest building. Over the winter, many of the sticks blow out and some are “stolen” by both nesting bald eagles and Great blue herons, so when our poor ospreys arrive back, the nest is often empty. The parents get right down to the business of building it back up, once they’ve rested from migration, and before long, the platform is filled with fresh sticks. The upside of this process is that the chicks have a relatively clean nest to grow up in, rather than one filled with super old food and egg/chick remains from previous seasons.

Comparison of the Osprey Cam nest over a three-week period.

Comparison of the Osprey Cam nest over a three-week period.

One other fun sight we had recently was this photo showing one of the parents practically standing on top of the other parent. We’ve seen this behavior in previous seasons, but it’s still funny to observe. Usually this seems to communicate that the standing parent wants to take over incubation, and it often results in the seated parent standing up and moving off the egg, although sometimes the seated parent just won’t get up. You can almost hear the seated parent saying “I’m sorry — can I help you?”

Parent crowding the other parent.

Parent crowding the other parent.

We’ll continue to monitor the couple and hopefully see things stay relatively quiet as we move into early June, which is our potential hatching period. If the egg hatches and the chick is healthy, the parents will have an easier time caring for it, since they’ll only have one little mouth to feed.

We’ll work on getting a gallery update posted soon. Thanks to those sending in photos.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: blackwater nwr, eggs, incubation, osprey cam | Leave a comment

Update on Eggs

Three eggs at Osprey Cam

Three eggs at Osprey Cam

We’re about two weeks from the possible start of hatching and fortunately all is quiet on the nest. The eggs look good (when we can spot them in the sticks and grass) and the parents are on the ball so far with incubating. We haven’t seen any intruder ospreys or other disturbances at the nest, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that things will continue to progress normally.

If you visit the Wildlife Drive at Blackwater Refuge you’ll see four water nests around the road (all man-made platforms), and right now we have osprey couples in all of them, so it’s shaping up to be a good season. In addition, we have a new natural nest near our photography blind. Last year, at the end of the nesting season, we saw this nest being built. It was so late in the season that we assumed it was a “frustration nest,” which is a nest built by a couple that failed to produce chicks. Over the winter the nest blew down (it’s very exposed), but this year it returned even bigger and now we can see an adult incubating inside. We hope this couple has a successful season, since we’re excited to see a natural nest along the Drive.

Natural nest along the Wildlife Drive

Natural nest along the Wildlife Drive

In other osprey news, we heard about the soap opera going on at Loch Garten in Scotland. The normally reliable Odin went missing and left EJ on the nest with her eggs. A new male took advantage of Odin’s absence and began to woo EJ. When EJ took a break from her eggs to eat, the new male destroyed Odin’s eggs (something a challenging male will do). But then Odin returned, and now it’s not clear who will be the resident male.

Although we get some drama occasionally with our eagles, ospreys do seem to be especially skilled in surprising us with their antics.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: eggs, incubation, osprey cam | 2 Comments

Chick Development

The Osprey Cam action has been slow lately, but that’s a very good thing. At this time of year, with the parents on eggs, you don’t want a lot of excitement or drama. The parents have been doing a great job staying on the eggs and providing the needed heat, so that the chicks can develop properly inside the eggs.

The incubating eggs must be kept at a temperature of around 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Each parent has a brood patch, which is a featherless spot on their underside, that they hold against the eggs to keep them warm. The osprey population always has a high egg/chick mortality rate when the spring weather is cold and wet, but so far our spring has been good for osprey incubation.

Our first egg is due to hatch around May 31. As that day nears, we’ll be watching the parent (probably the female) on the eggs to see if she seems restless. The parents will hear the chick chirping and might feel it moving inside the egg before hatching occurs. The hatching process is very hard on the chick, and the youngster must stop quite frequently to rest, so the hatching (from first pip to leaving the egg) can drag out over 24 hours.

Below is a video of a chick hatching at the Loch of the Lowes osprey nest in Scotland. The video shows the end of the hatching process, when the chick is finally able to push off the top of the egg and emerge.

Some cam watchers have asked in the past if the parents ever help the chick get out of the shell. Most biologists will say that the parents do not help, but I’ll admit that I’ve seen a couple videos over the years where it looked like the parent might be moving the shell aside. Whether that’s helping or not, I’m not really sure, but it does seem that most parents leave the hatching to the chick.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
Support the Blackwater Cams
Contact Us

Categories: eggs, incubation | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.