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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Fledging is Near

Our chicks are about seven weeks old now and they’re spending more time flapping and gaining some air time over the nest, as you can see in this video.

It won’t be long before our chicks take their first flight. It might be a short one, with the chick returning quickly to the nest, or it might be a longer one if they make it to a nearby tree or decide to sit on the ground for a bit until they can make it back up to the nest. They might also just fly up to the top of the camera arm, where the male likes to perch — just out of our sight.

Speaking of fledging, the Dyfi Osprey Cam nest in Wales had three chicks fledge yesterday — all in the same morning. You can watch the interesting videos on their website.

Given that our chicks are very close in age and size, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them fledge close together. Often seeing one chick leave the nest greatly motivates the other to fly, too.

Finally, as we mentioned on the Osprey Cam page, we are starting the 2015 Osprey Chick-Naming Contest. It will run through August 1. Visit the contest page for details on entering, and please help us name our chicks.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Video of Mealtime

Two Osprey Chicks

Two Osprey Chicks

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.

Osprey Chicks Flapping

Osprey Chicks Flapping

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.

Until next time,
Lisa – webmaster
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Categories: chick, fledge, osprey cam | Leave a comment

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