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.