August 5, 2014
The live streaming video of our Ospreys ended today as our Internet video stream provider, Justin.tv, shut down after 7 years of service.
CBEC will have new live video streams coming online soon… Stay Tuned!
August 03, 2014
Now that both osprey chicks have fledged, the nest activity is limited. Occasionally the adult alights on the nest checking things out. Today one of the chicks is back on the nest, but only a temporary stop-over. The affinity for the nest is diminishing.
The chicks are now perching in the tree the adults have used throughout the nesting season. They wait in the perching tree for the adults to bring food. The young are still being fed by the adults, but they will need to learn the “fish catching process” quickly. Although I observe the young flying over the water, I have not seen them attempt to get food.
The fledglings are still getting their “landing legs” in that they don’t have the knack as to what branches will support their weight. After seeing them land a few times they don’t seem to realize that skinny branches don’t hold them. They try to get their balance wobbling back and forth, then take off again when the branch gives way. The landings are still quite rough!
The young are always within eyeshot of the parents, and the parents are very protective. Yesterday a great blue heron crossed paths with one of the young in flight, and immediately the adult female put the rush on the heron. She flew after it, diving occasionally, until the heron was out of sight. The male also did the same “chase and dive” at a turkey vulture moving it out of air space.
It’s interesting watching a new set of behaviors by both adults and young now that the nestlings have fledged.
July 27, 2014
Any day now the nestlings are going to advance to fledglings. They are practicing more with their “flappercising”, and getting lift. Wings, feet and body are becoming more comfortable functioning together. Past few days I saw a foot of lift, and I am watching for more lift(3-4’) and longer hovering in air over the nest….and then the leap of faith.
Although the young are at the near-point of flight, they still have the instinct/reflex of laying low when “potential danger” is around. The nestling’s defense (when nest bound) is to lay flat in the cup, stay still and hope danger passes. The young are quite big and although they try to flatten themselves, they are quite obvious. Loud noises, something flying overhead (particularly eagles and herons) and human or pet activity around the nest cause them to go into the ‘dead bird mode’ (flattening and still). They will lose that behavior once they are on wing.
The parents are still attending the young, because the young are nestlings in the eyes of the parent birds. When all are on the nest the parents/young are similar in size, but the adult birds appear dark on the back (dorsal plumage), whereas, the young still have a lot of white on the back. They will lose the white ‘speckledness’ with the post-juvenal molt. The young still rest in the prone position, and the adults rest in a standing position.
Today I noticed the female do a fly-by-the-nest with a fish. She repeated the flight several times, and then alighted in her favorite tree to devour the fish. As she was doing the fly-bys, the young were giving the hunger chirps, but she did not bring food. The young then spent about 15 minutes digging around the nest substrate for any food remains that may have fallen through the sticks. These behaviors indicate to me that the parents are keeping the young a little hungry, because they are soon to entice the young from the nest. We will need to keep an eye on this the next few days…but I am sure the count-down for leaving the nest is soon.
July 16, 2014
King Arthur was once quoted (while his army was standing around doing nothing), “You have to wait a long time with your mouth open before a roasted pigeon flies into it.” Thought for the day for the juvenal ospreys.
This morning the female brought a large fish to the nest, and immediately the chicks assumed the position for being fed. They were within beak’s distance of the fish with mouth’s open and ready. But the female proceeded to eat without ‘beaking off bits to the chicks.’ What??? ( No food coming our way.) The parent was standing off to the edge of the nest and continued eating. The young edged closer to the food. They started the “food call chirp.” No reaction from mom followed. Finally, the younger of the two pecked at the fish, then both started pecking at the fish with increased fervor….no luck. Pecking at the fish is not enough to get a “piece of fish to fly in the mouth.”
The female then proceeded to feed them a few small bits. This was only to whet the appetite. She was in the associative teaching mode. The young got the idea, but were missing a few techniques. They knew the fish was food. They knew they had to tear the food with the beak. They didn’t know an antagonistic force was needed prior to a piece of fish “flying into their mouths.” The antagonistic force of standing on/holding down with the talons and the twisting, pulling, tearing at the same time with the beak is how a piece of fish is removed from the whole fish.
So, the young pecking at the fish with no results was a start. Within the next few days the parents will leave partial fish remains in the nest after the feeding. In the course of the day the young will pounce on the remains holding with the feet. They then will peck at it, and with a lucky jerk up with the head; they may get a bit of fish from the carcass. With this repeated procedure (a number of times), feeding is mastered. This process should be “learned” within 5-7 days. In the osprey life cycle there is not a lot of time to learn things…quick learners (through associative behavior) are survivors.
July 10, 2014
An osprey chick’s thoughts presently-“These wings are so cumbersome, what good will they ever be?” And “I am itchy,” The chicks are right to ‘think so.’
At this stage of chick life they are fine-tuning feet, pushing feathers at a tremendous rate and have already gained 75% of their adult body weight. There is a body growth slow down, but the feathers are growing rapidly, and requiring much preening. Most of their activity (when they are not resting/sleeping) involves preening, that is, drawing the feathers through the beak to keep them in order. Feather growth at this time is rapid (and a pretty itchy process). The feathers are kept in good condition by pushing, brushing and drawing through the beak. This is critical body maintenance in order to keep the feathers functional for flight.
Many studies have been conducted regarding growth of the osprey chicks. The chicks follow a “sigmoidal growth curve” or “S-shaped growth curve.” Basically, this means when the chicks are small their growth is slow, then they have an acceleration in growth, and another slow growth period when approaching adult size. The Hellgate Montana osprey study does a nice job on explaining the overall growth in lay terms. Our birds are nearing the end of the acceleration stage. Within a week the birds will be exercising the wings a lot more. This strengthens the wings for eventual “take off.” It’s interesting watching the wing antics when they start. They are not attentive as to where the nest mate is, and it’s a wonder more chicks aren’t knocked off the nest by the flapping of a sibling’s wings. (Very little wing control in the beginning.) Keep an eye out for this behavior.
If you’re a steady watcher of the osprey cam, you should have noticed:
There is usually a parent attending the nest.
Both parents attend the nest during a storm.
Both parents feed the young.
Both parents hunt (separately, because one is attending the nest.)
The male brings sticks to the nest daily; rejuvenating the nest perimeter.
Chicks are beginning to range to the perimeter of the nest (not always in the cup.)
There are reasons for these behaviors…nothing in nature is a wasted movement. Keep your eyes glued to the osprey family happenings.
July 03, 2014
One wicked storm last night with tremendous winds, lightening and rain. Although the lightening lit up the nest, I wasn’t sure the chicks would make it through the storm. I noticed with the help of the lightening flashes both parents were anchoring the nest. They were sitting side by side flat out and sheltering the young. That was a good thing, as the chicks are light in weight and could be blown from the nest. This happened last year with the same pair…three chicks were blown from the nest during a microburst and were found washed ashore. This year the parents sat tight, and I think the collective weight, flat position and depth of the nest cup protected all.
This morning around 6:00 am both parents brought a fish to the nest, and fed young, but also, the young are beginning to rip at the food on their own. This started about three days ago when the male brought a large gizzard shad to the nest, placed it near the cup when chicks were nestled, but made no effort to tear pieces to feed the young. The chicks were giving their begging calls, but no pieces were coming to their beaks. Finally the larger of the two waddled/walked to the fish and began “testing” it with small beak prods. When nothing happened the larger chick footed the fish and tore a small piece from it…swallowed the piece; and that’s how it is done. The second chick joined in with intermittent success. After a few minutes of the chicks attempting to feed, the parents intervened and gave them a full meal.
This is a learning experience for the chicks on the nest. They are practicing using the tools (beak and feet) mostly on sticks and debris in the nest, but eventually on the real thing—food. I have seen the larger chick move sticks with the beak, pick pieces of debris from the substrate, and wipe the beak clean on sticks. Whatever the larger chick does, the smaller one soon follows suit. Mastering the use of the feet/talons is requiring a little more fine tuning. A skill requiring adeptness which is difficult for the chicks now, because they are in the early stages of using their feet for balance/walking. I have seen the larger chick stand on a single branch with talons holding it steady, so it won’t be long (about 7-10 days) before the chicks are “footing” prey and moving it about the nest.
There is a noticeable difference in size and plumage of the chicks in the past week. In fact it is quite crowded on the nest when parents and young are on the nest together. The young still gravitate toward the cup, whereas, the parents utilize the perimeter for standing and moving. The feather tracks of the chicks are growing out and the individual feathers are starting to overlap. (not so much bareness). The growth of the feathers covering the body are increasing the insulation capability of the chicks. They are increasing their ability to maintain some “cooling”, and the parents are not required to constantly shade the chicks in the heat of the day.
June 25, 2014
During the past three days the osprey chicks have been testing their legs for weight-bearing. They are doing a lot less waddling around the nest, and more standing and moving about the nest substrate. Also, feather tracks are filling in and they are taking on the brown hue of “older juveniles.” Much wing stretching…which is a good exercise for strengthening the wings. The parents are not spending as much time shading them, as their plumage is changing for more protection.
Today the older of the two chicks was moving sticks with its beak. Learning through association and mimicry is the ‘rule of thumb’, or, in this case ‘rule of beak.’ This behavior is a dexterity action in that the beak is a useful tool. So, the chick is experimenting with one of the tool possibilities…moving sticks. Interesting… in that the parent bird (both parents bring new sticks each day for nest renovation) is carefully placing/weaving sticks to mold with the nest, and the chick is undoing the work. The parents don’t give up, and the little one soon tires and flops down in the nest cup.
It’s 6:39 pm and I just saw the male arrive at the nest with another stick. This pair is most unusual at this time in the nesting season, still diligently bringing sticks (many) daily. I did notice the stick with the fishing line wrapped and dangling is gone from the nest. That’s a good thing. Ospreys do continue to adorn the nest throughout the season with plant matter (algae, pine branches, greenery) and do continue to bring an occasional stick. But, this pair is rebuilding the nest every day.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.
June 20, 2014
Had a scare yesterday during a feeding time! The male brought a fish, and was feeding the young. I was watching the process through the spotting scope. At one point I saw the male with a fish hook, sinker and line in a piece of the fish. He was trying to shake it from his beak and was successful. He picked up the piece of fish with hook, line and sinker dangling, and one of the little ones jumped up to grab it. (They are focused on the fish…nothing else). The chick had that same piece with dangling apparatus in its beak. The male grabbed it from the young one and shook it, so that it landed somewhere on the perimeter of the nest. I know that hook and accessories are still in the nest, but hopefully the little ones will not become entangled. Feeding continued without another event.
It is well documented that the mortality rate for young ospreys in the nest is 49.1%, and they succumb to entanglement with monofilament line. I have seen the nests in the Kent Narrows area with many young wrapped up in the line. Not a pleasant sight. The birds die a slow, agonizing death. That is one of the reasons we preach, “dispose of broken line, properly in waste containers, or take it with you to get rid of it later.” These birds at CBEC’s nest are under a constant watchful eye, so if that fishing line, etc. causes a problem, we will intervene. Not all nests are so fortunate to be watched.
June 18, 2014
Extremely hot today! Both adults took turns and sometimes both at the same time…shading the young. I noticed both the young and adults were panting to rid heat and limited their movement. The birds obtain fluid from the food items. Since the young are nest bound, they only “drink” what liquids are in the food. Most birds of prey seldom drink water, but obtain all fluids from the food items. To prevent dehydration on hot days, the parent ospreys feed the young more frequently….small bits at a time. The young on this nest are still moving about the nest substrate on their hocks. That means their legs are bent and they waddle around. Soon they will have gained sufficient strength/growth that they will stand for periods of time. Keep an eye for their first “standing posture.” The young develop quickly and gain new behaviors within a few days.
June 14, 2014
Today the young were quite active in the day moving about the nest substrate. The female spent most of the time shading the young. She will stand with wings partially open with her back to the sun, and keep moving with the sun to keep the young in the shade. At this time the young have a regulated body temperature, therefore, she keeps them shaded. If you see the adults and/or chicks with mouths open and panting…they are getting rid of excess body heat. Because the chicks are still small, the female will often shade them by sitting in the nest and gather the chicks on her legs (between legs and her body). At this stage of chick development keeping them cool is an important nesting behavior.
June 10 2014
Today the osprey chicks were “jumping with joy” over fish parts, and they were clearly visible when they “leaped” (by stretching necks and excitedly bobbing) for food. The parents demonstrated a feeding behavior I have not seen in all osprey pairs. The behavior involved the male tearing a tiny piece of a fish, giving it to the female (beak to beak) and then the female fed the young. The pieces were very tiny and, of course, the prime piece of fish. Occasionally the chicks would drop the piece, and the female would patiently pick it from the substrate, and try feeding it again.
Since the nest is approximately 10 inches thick, and the birds are adding sticks daily, it requires patience and “sharp eyes” to spot the young at this time. Within a week the osprey chicks should be visible above the rim of the nest.