migration

Goodbye for Now

Most Recent Sighting

Most Recent Sighting

The nest has been very quiet with few images of any ospreys around. A cam watcher did spot this bird on the nest, but we can’t be completely certain that it’s one of the birds from our cam family, since we have quite a few ospreys around Blackwater Refuge and we also have ospreys migrating down the coast who could be stopping over at the Refuge to rest and feed.

I’m tempted to say our family has likely left because there have been few sightings of the youngsters coming back to the nest looking for a meal. If the youngsters were ready to go, the male osprey would have left, too. The one advantage of going now is that the hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been relatively quiet, so now would be a good time to head down the coast and over to South America. We hope that if our family has left that they have a very safe journey, no matter where each individual bird decides to go for the winter.

The one thing that’s a bit surprising is that we’re not seeing bald eagles on the nest just yet. We have seen turkey vultures, but normally the bald eagles start perching on the platform once the ospreys are gone, but maybe it’s a bit early for the eagles to feel at home taking over the platform.

Raptor Watching on Hawk Mountain

Raptor Watching on Hawk Mountain

One item we wanted to pass along in this final blog post: If you’re interested in seeing raptor migration in person, a wonderful place to visit is Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Kempton, Pennsylvania. The sanctuary offers trails to the overlooks, and they also have a wonderful Visitor Center with raptor exhibits. They also just opened an accessible trail, if you’re not up for the more strenuous climbs to the higher lookouts. According to their Peak Migration calendar, the next few weeks will offer the best chance to see ospreys and eagles migrating over the mountains, so it’s a great time to visit. You can also check out their Raptor Count page to see the most current migration numbers.

We want to thank everyone for joining us for what was a very successful season on the Blackwater Osprey Cam. After a couple of seasons with disappointing results, we were very happy to have such an enjoyable year. We’ll be keeping the gallery open, so feel free to continue sending in photos, and thanks to all those who sent in photos throughout the nesting season.

Until next season,
Lisa – webmaster
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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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