The young osprey has now left the nest. She’s independent and fully capable to take care of herself. And with that, the 2014 nesting season is officially over for the osprey family I’ve been following since January.
I saw this magnificent young bird eating and resting in the nest for a few hours on Monday and then again (from my terrace) on Tuesday. She left that evening to explore her wider surroundings and has not returned.
I thought this might be a good time to look back on the nesting season’s most interesting events, and particularly on the day when the nestling became a fledgling.
Building the nest , or rather renovating last years home, started in mid January. Papa osprey went back and forth to the Home Depot store and brought home building materials. Mama osprey was the designer and put it all together.
The couple had a few interesting and fairly loud arguments during this DIY renovation project. Wouldn’t any couple? This happened particularly at times when papa osprey came home empty-handed.
Then mama osprey was sitting on the egg and papa osprey was feeding her.
And protecting the nest from intruders. A dramatic show of force was displayed by both mama and papa osprey when two dogs took their people for a walk on the wrong side of the nest on March 15. I assume the egg had hatched (or was about to) at that time.
Mama osprey flies to check on the dogs
Papa osprey arrives to help
Papa osprey checks the nest
Papa osprey guards the nest
Papa osprey flies down towards the dogs
Soon the nestling was big enough to peek out from the nest. That’s when I spotted her first.
Papa osprey went on frequent fishing trips and brought home the “beef” that mama osprey fed to the nestling.
Mama osprey kept feeding the nestling and took care of her until she started “wingersizing” and then finally fledged. I have put together a sequential gallery of photos I took over a two-hour period on May 13. You can see how determined the young one was to fly. Mama osprey had to be careful not to be hit in the head by a flying twig or by the youngster. I had to laugh when I looked at these photos again 🙂
Anyway, that’s the day the youngster learned to fly. Soon after that papa osprey took over her training. They went on fishing trips together and he then kept an eye on her until last week when I witnessed her coming back to the nest with a fish.
I hope all of them will have a great summer and fall wherever they are going. I’m already looking forward to the return of mama and papa osprey in December-January. The juvenile will probably return to breed in her birth environment only in her third year.
I hope you enjoyed this successful nesting season as much as I did.
Bumble asked me for a small favor. And I owe him one. For helping me to write my first novel. He was the best assistant any writer could ask for. Always there for me. Sitting in my lap and cheering me on for every hundred words. Or laying at my feet, snoring. So I wouldn’t fall asleep at the laptop when I was up writing after midnight. Completely unselfish. Inspiring. Loving.
And the favor he asked for was not unreasonable. He has posted an article on his blog and asked me to provide a link here for those of his friends who have not yet found his site. I guess he misses some of his readers. And I have a hunch he wants some sympathy as well. So here it is: A Decorated Rescue Dog. Stitches Galore.
I grabbed the binoculars and checked the osprey nest while my coffee was brewing this morning. It’s become a part of my morning ritual this nesting season.
Nobody was at home. I assumed that the youngster, who’s been living there solo since early last week, had gone to fetch some breakfast. Maybe she was fishing on the bay-side, just behind the Dunkin’ Donuts shop.
Around midday, I decided some exercise would be in place. A quick walk on the beach and in the nature reserve would do. I was hoping to say hello to the young osprey and maybe spot some other birds too.
I was happy to find the juvenile at the nest. She was not alarmed when I approached and sat down on a bench under some trees nearby. She’s seen me since she was old enough to peek out of the nest. I thought she nodded a greeting.
It was hot and I was thirsty. I put my camera away and opened a water bottle. Relaxed for a bit. Right then the youngster gave out a loud and very upset alarm call. Cheereek! From where I sat, I didn’t see anything unusual. Next that I knew, I saw papa osprey zooming in from the bay-side and sweeping over the nest! Checking that everything was okay. I was scrambling with my camera … and only caught the tail-end of him at a distance.
In the meantime, the youngster was already in flight following her papa. Talk about paying a price for putting my gear down. I missed all the action.
Soon enough I got an explanation to why the youngster was so upset in the first place. Three men came walking from the grassy area behind the nest pole! Walking there is a no-no in the osprey book. Some of you may remember the big alarm by mama osprey when the dogs and their people walked that way back in March. This time I sat in a different place and didn’t see it coming.
So there I was, mulling over my bad luck with the camera. While waiting (and hoping) that the juvenile would return to the nest, I discovered some movement in the water. I went to check it out and look what I saw: a blue crab swimming happily in the murky water!
I went back to my bench and was about to pack up and leave when I saw the youngster return. She was holding a fat fish in the talons of her right foot! Correctly positioned head first to diminish air resistance!
I guess papa osprey took her right where the fish was congregating. The whole trip took less than 10 minutes. Good for her! She started eating immediately.
I left her to enjoy her food. It was fun to see how papa osprey is still keeping an eye on the youngster and that they go fishing together.
On my way back I saw a tri-colored heron and several ibis birds. Thanks for coming along. I hope you enjoyed the lesson on how to transport a fish in the air. It could prove useful one day.
Have a wonderful Midsummer – celebrated this weekend in the Nordic countries. Love always, Tiny
Yesterday, for the fist time in more than a week, I was able to take a walk in the nature reserve. I was delighted to find the Gallinule family, mom and all three kids. Fluffy black balls with red sprinkles.
Mrs. Gallinule is extremely skilful in hiding her chicks even when they are on the move, but a little movement under bushes and grass next to the water gave her away.
They were getting swimming lessons. Common Gallinules have big feet and walk well on the ground, but they are also good swimmers. And these cuties were already moving pretty fast 🙂
While in the park, I also had to check on the osprey nest. I found the juvenile there alone. She looks more and more like an adult now as the white feathering on her wings is becoming less marked. She was having brunch, fish that she’d caught by herself. It seems that she is completely independent now, but still continues to use the nest for eating and resting. I saw her there also late last night when I checked the nest from my terrace. It seems she was sleeping there, but by morning she was gone again. Probably to get some breakfast.
The last time I saw her there together with papa osprey was five days ago. Mama osprey might have left the nesting area already (the female often leaves before the young ones are fully independent), but I’m almost sure papa osprey is still hanging around somewhere in the vicinity. Keeping an eye. As you can see the nest is becoming very “bare bones” now. Its duty for this season is almost done…serving as a home for the osprey couple who produced one healthy offspring. And that is a great thing!
Little more than two weeks ago, I saw mama osprey sitting tight in the nest with the recently fledged junior (above). Since then a lot has happened. Papa has returned and mama has moved out. Don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be according to the research I’ve got my hands on (became a subscriber to Cornell Ornithology Lab’s research). Mama now lives somewhere in the vicinity, and papa osprey has taken over the continued education of the increasingly independent teen.
The appearance of the nest has changed along with the family dynamics. Many of the “necorations” have been discarded or have fallen off. A little bit of a “man cave” feel to it now. Mama osprey’s balcony flowers are still hanging in there by bare teeth, dry and not blooming anymore.
I’ve been following the dad-teen duo through visits to the nest (until I caught a cold bug end of last week) and many times a day from my terrace. I’d like to understand what’s happening towards the end of their nesting season.
Last week I found them at the nest most mornings. In the afternoons the nest was usually empty until close to sunset time when papa osprey returned first and the teen shortly thereafter. Every evening I could see that both papa osprey and the youngster were back in the nest. Often having dinner under the last rays of sun. All was well.
One day last week, I saw something interesting. I was standing behind my usual camouflage tree when I heard papa osprey’s call. It was different from what I’ve heard before, very agitated or maybe I should say emotional. The youngster joined in, singing a different tune.
I saw papa sitting at the south-west edge of the nest (his favorite spot) and peering intently at the south skies. I followed his line of sight and saw a small prick flying high in the sky. It moved like an osprey and I thought it might have been mama osprey checking on her family from the distance. I got a quick shot, and it looks like it’s an osprey (when I made it bigger and more blurry) but the bird was much too far away to tell whether or not it really was mama osprey.
This week the nest has been used even a little less. I’m sure the fishing lessons are happening somewhere on the ocean-side, and that the youngster already flies long distances very confidently. It’s like getting a driver’s license. A new freedom to come and go. Some evenings, just minutes before dark, I’ve seen papa osprey alone, watching the skies and waiting patiently. The teen tends to stay out very late, I’m sure well past her curfew time. In the morning the next day I’ve seen both of them again.
This afternoon, while observing the duo from my terrace, I saw the juvenile suddenly fly away over the bay and follow another osprey. I wonder if that might have been mama osprey? Papa stayed put at the nest.
Ospreys are solitary birds, apart from during the nesting season. It lasts about five months, from the time the usually monogamous parents come together to build or upgrade the nest to the time when the young are independent and everyone starts preparing for their migration south. These guys started their nest-building early January so it’s five months about now. I’m not sure whether this couple and the youngster will actually migrate (we see ospreys here year round), but if they do decide to go further south, it’ll happen in July-August.
I will do one more post about the osprey family little later, summarizing my most interesting observations and best pictures for this nesting season. I discovered I have a few exciting pictures I didn’t include in any of my posts so far. So stay tuned…
I’ve also decided to try to get some new gear to be able to observe them better when they (hopefully) return for the next nesting season. And I’ll also go back to school. Need to understand these fascinating birds a little better.