Continued Education. And Change of Guard.

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.

papa osprey and juvenile 603
Papa osprey with the juvenile

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.

osprey fledgling 605
The fledgling is observing Tiny

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.

osprey fledgling returns to nest 603
Osprey fledgling coming back home…papa is behind her.

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.

papa osprey looking for mama 603
Papa osprey peering south…before he calls out loud

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.

mama osprey flying by 603
Is that mama osprey flying by?

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.

papa osprey waiting alone 606
Papa osprey waiting at sundown
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Together again – juvenile and papa

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.

Papa osprey and fledgling at the nest (as seen from my terrace)
Papa osprey and fledgling at the nest this afternoon (as seen from my terrace)

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.

A feather next to the osprey nest...likely one from the fledglings wings
A feather next to the osprey nest…likely one from the fledglings wings

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.

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Continued Education. And Change of Guard.”

    1. Thanks Carolyn. I hope that I’ll get another opportunity to follow them next nesting season, I’ve learned so much in these few months 🙂

    1. Thanks Gallivanta – I’m quite happy about the osprey bug, have shown the door to the other one, but he’s very insistent. Throwing some green tea at him right now.

  1. interesting to note that we have ospreys up here too. There are several in the hill up behind my house but we don’t get to see them very often.
    I particularly like it when I go to the beach and get to watch them do their stuff in the surf–It can be very exciting.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Ospreys are wide-spread in the world and not to my knowledge in danger from man anymore, now that DDT is no longer used by farmers…hopefully there’ll be enough fish for everyone, man and bird.

  2. Thanks so much Cyndi! The opportunity I’ve had to follow this little family has been a true privilege. I’ll be better prepared next season as I know so much more and hopefully “father Xmas” brings some new gear… Start to feel a bit better today 🙂

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