Sunday Extra! Breaking News. But Don’t Tell Mama Osprey.

I know. You’ve already clicked through this weeks Salt Marsh News. But a short weekend edition seems to be called for as there’s some late breaking news.

It was hot yesterday. On the better side of 90 degrees (F). In mid afternoon Mama Osprey left the nest. She flew a few rounds around the marsh checking for any dangers. Flying by the nest, she realized the chicks were moving about and watching her. She sounded a sharp two-part warning: Heads down!  And down they went like by magic.

osprey chicks watching mama fly around Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The chicks are up and moving when Sandy has left the nest…
osprey nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…and magically disappear on her command.

But that didn’t last long. As soon as Mama Sandy was out of sight, the oldest chick got up and flexed his wings. The middle chick next to him stayed down. The little chick lifted her head in amazement over the total disregard of Mama’s rules. The big brother flexed his wings vigorously. Faster and faster. And up in the air he went. Almost a whole foot.

osprey chick practices flying Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Flap! Flap! Flap! The big chick is in the air!

The middle chick next to him ducked further down. The youngest didn’t dare to watch. Big brother’s wobbly flight lasted only for a few seconds. And his landing was hazardous. An one foot operation.

oldest osprey chick lands Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
One foot down, the other almost on the middle chick…

But finally he gained his balance and got a firm footing. This reporter let out a sigh of relief.  Nobody hurt, nobody fell out of the nest. Weekend duty can be nerve-racking.

oldest osprey chick gains his footing Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
…an additional flap, and both feet land nicely in the nest.

After that show of emerging talent everybody was quiet. Until Sandy returned ten minutes later. She was wet, obviously from diving. But to the disappointment of the chicks, she didn’t bring a fish this time. She just needed a bath.

mama osprey returns from her dive Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama is coming back! Fish, fish, fish!
wet female osprey is back in the nest Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
You want fish? I needed a bath!

Mama was back. And nobody said a peep about the flying exercise that took place in her absence. And you won’t tell either, right?

Ps. If you have further suggestions on creative (and preferably gender neutral) names for the three chicks, please put them into your comments. Bumble will announce the winners in a special guest post he’s planned for Tuesday night. I think.