Child Care Issues. And Other Interesting Dynamics in the Osprey Family.

It was almost lunch time. Lofty, the oldest chick, was in charge at the nest. Mama Sandy had left for a fishing trip to complement what Papa Stanley brings in. Teenagers have a bottomless appetite, as we all know.

osprey chick leaves for somr flight practice Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Aspire leaves for some flight practice…

Aspire, the middle chick who fledged late last week, decided she needed another practice flight around the salt marsh. But Lofty stayed with Sindile. It was heartwarming to see how this little sister found comfort in big brother’s company. When nasty black birds flew over the nest chasing Aspire, she gradually moved closer and closer to her brother.

smallest osprey chick with her big brother Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Lofty looks after his little sister, who looks at the black birds and decides she doesn’t like them…very much.

Aspire flew around for about five minutes before she got tired of being harassed and decided to return to the nest. But that was easier said than done.

newly fledged osprey chick on a practice flight Florida
Aspire on her practice flight…

You see, landing seems to be the trickiest part in this whole flying business. The two newly fledged chicks tend to come in far too high. Unlike their parents who often fly just above or below the nest level and then effortlessly hop on to the edge. Just see how Aspire corrected her coordinates when approaching the nest.

osprey chick landing Florida
Oops…I’m not gonna hit the nest…
osprey chick lands Florida
…need to swing my legs to the right…
oprey chick lands to the nest Florida
…I should be okay now…thanks for cheering guys.

And finally landed. After lots of flapping and encouraging cheers from her siblings. Soon thereafter Sandy returned from her fishing trip with fresh lunch. And Sindile broke into a joyful song: mama brought a fish, mama…

female osprey brings in fish Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Mama Sandy arrives with fresh fish.

And then they were eating in turn, from the oldest to the youngest. That brings me to this morning. I took an early walk around the salt marsh, but was not early enough to see Papa Stanley’s breakfast delivery. Since all the chicks now eat directly from the fish, Mama Sandy had left to get her own breakfast. This is how it went when they had breakfast without Sandy’s supervision – a short 1 minute clip with the inventive title – beakfast 🙂 but it takes too long to process it again.

Sandy took her time. Probably eating her own fish somewhere close by. I heard some osprey communications and the chicks responded. So I walked around in the park to see if I could find her. I didn’t. But guess who I found keeping an eye on the chicks. You guessed it, Papa Stanley. He was perching on a lamp pole on the bay side. With a clear line of sight to the nest.

mal osprey keeps an eye on the nest Sand key Park Clearwater Florida
Stanley watches the chicks.

While Sandy took a longer break, he was watching the kids so that any sudden threats could be swiftly addressed. Like the possibility of a new attack by the Great Blue Heron, who returned to the marsh after a longish absence following his confrontation with Sandy. This couple never ceases to amaze me. They have it all figured out.

Great blue heron Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
The Great Blue Heron is back.

While all three chicks are still living at home, Sindile is yet to fledge. She has definitely become braver and more assertive of her rights in the nest. And I’ve seen her finally exercising her wings.  Yesterday, I checked on them with my binoculars and saw Sindile was almost a foot in the air! I’m quite confident she’s going to fledge in the next few days.

osprey chick Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Sindile in deep thought…

And I can’t pass on the Roseate Spoonbill. She posed for me again this morning. As in sending greetings to her faithful fans.

roseate spoonbill Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Roseate Spoonbill says hi to her fans 🙂

And next to her, a couple of juvenile Mottled Ducks were examining the salt marsh on their own. I’m sure they were from the brood I spotted about seven weeks ago.  And now they were about 2/3 of the size of their parents. How fast they all grow up!

2 juvenile mottled ducks Sand Key Park Clearwater Florida
Two juvenile Mottled Ducks explore the marsh by themselves

That’s all from the salt marsh this week. Have a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to enjoying the company of my own offspring this weekend 🙂

56 thoughts on “Child Care Issues. And Other Interesting Dynamics in the Osprey Family.”

  1. How super that Sindile is coming into her own as her siblings leave the nest without her! Super video too – it’s great to see the action live… Have a good weekend with your kids 😀 and thanks for being so thorough with news from the Salt Marsh!

    1. I’ve always rooted for Sindile since she was born so many days after the others. I’m happy she seems to be getting “there” now 🙂 Have a great weekend too!

    1. Happy you liked the update, Hien. I hope my next update (which will come mid next week due to upcoming travels), will have some fledging news.

  2. Echoing what’s been said already, the pictures and video were great! Definitely it looked like the one was watching you and doing that side to side head movement. What a great opportunity you’ve had to photograph these guys!

    I wonder when it’s time to leave the nest if Stanley & Sandy will let them stay in the area or if they’ll drive them off to somewhere else.

    Thanks so much for sharing! I know I say that each time, but I know from my own experience that this kind of a blog post takes a fair amount of time between getting the pictures, processing them, and then writing it up. Or at least mine do 🙂

    Nancy

    1. Thanks Nancy! If what I learned last year is applicable, Sandy and Stanley will teach them to fish and then withdraw themselves from coming to the nest too much, other than dropping a fish every now and then, until the chicks one by one leave the nest when they become confident enough. I think they fly somewhere else in Florida or a nearby state (these ospreys don’t migrate) to start their independent juvenile lives. They tend to come back when they are mature (in 2-3 years) to nest in the broad area where they were born. Last year I didn’t see the parents around for more than a month after they stopped feeding the one chick they had. Then first Sandy appeared and little later Stanley came back, and I spotted them every now and then.

  3. Love the way the siblings watch Aspire trying to land. And their table manners when Mum and Dad are away are impeccable. Perhaps they sense that Papa is keeping an eye on them so they better behave. Tiny, your card arrived yesterday. I can’t believe how quickly it came. Almost as if it had come by osprey express delivery. Lofty, Aspire and Sindile are pegged up high on a wire in my kitchen where they have a bird’s eye view of my meal preparation. Thank you to you and Bumble.

    1. It’s tricky for them to hit the nest. I think that’s what happened to Lofty when I found him on the ground last week. But they become better and better every day. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Sindile fledges soon. Happy the card arrived, and that they have a good view of your delicious cooking and baking…they will feel right at home 🙂

  4. dear tiny, great update, once more!
    …so we are in the middle of adolescence, now! everybody’s different – there are early bloomers, late arrivers, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers (so interesting). with the wonderful primary goal of the “teen” time, to achieve independence, them to become eventually young adults. means: mama sandy and papa stanley will have – in very near future – more time of their own, again…until the next small ones are arriving…

    1. Oh, Sandy and Stanley already look exhausted…they’ve lost some weight too. Once the chicks leave the nest, they will have about six months to pamper themselves until Stanley proposes to Sandy again in early January. But they’ll need to bring fish for a few more weeks, I’m guessing until early July…Have a great weekend, Sirpa!

        1. You’re right, it’s just bittersweet for us, but for their parents it’s the completion of a wonderful task, and for the young it’s the beginning of their independent adventures 🙂

  5. Fun watching the video! The story continues to be endlessly fascinating! I love that portrait of Sindile – gorgeous! Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your family time, such a gift!

    1. Thanks Amy! We’ll have a few more weeks before the chicks will fly out. I hope little Sindile will fledge soon, she’s now more than a week after the others. Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. These are great Tiny! I love the video and seeing the guys in action too 🙂
    Lofty is turning out to be a good older brother. Yeah to Sindile (I want to call her saltine for some reason …)
    Thank you so much for bringing their adventures to life with your insight and human wisdom!

    1. I’m very impressed how Lofty has matured. He’s very protective of his little sister and I’m sure he’ll urge her to fly very soon, like he did with Aspire. Thanks for cheering them on, Val 🙂

  7. Oh how I have enjoyed watching the osprey chicks grow — they have gotten so big now! Great photos, Tiny; I especially love that closeup of the roseate spoonbill. 🙂

    1. Now the Spoonbill will be happy 🙂 She is always looking at me and posing when I see her in the morning. At day time when it’s hot, she’s hiding in a bush only her tail feathers visible. Thanks for your kind comment, Jet.

  8. Tiny, I will back to really digest this post. Time for me is just not there for blogging. I hope by tomorrow I’ll be able to really see this!! You are doing one incredible job documenting this amazing family!!! Love, Amy ❤

        1. Tiny!! Wow! What a post! I was thrilled to watch your video and your sense of humor about how the babies don’t know how to come in for a landing yet had me laughing. What a truly amazing place on this earth you live in! Your pictures of these Ospreys are stunning, and the expressions on their faces at times, just precious. You really narrated perfectly, you know, as if your knew exactly what was going on. Beautiful beautiful post, one that I am truly grateful for. This world holds so many mysteries, and so many miracles, that to LIVE here can be considered Paradise. That is … when we focus our attention on the Miracle of Mother. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

  9. I can’t believe how big they are now! They’re gorgeous and look strong and well fed! What a wonderful experience for you Tiny. You’re part of that family believe it or not. Lovely pictures! 🙂

    1. Thanks H.J.! Somehow I think they recognize me now. Even when I found Lofty on the ground just after he fledged last week, he didn’t look alarmed or scared although I was only six feet away. It is a wonderful experience which I’m happy to be able to share 🙂

  10. You have a wonderful gift for story writing the daily osprey developments. It has been a privilege to watch them develop and fledge, and to see how quickly it seems to occur, thanks again Tiny

    1. Thank so much for your kind comment. Although I’m writing about their lives in somewhat “light” manner, I also collect facts as I observe them. There is still so much to learn about these wonderful birds.

  11. How funny Tiny – hadn’t heard of your blog when Dogear (Nancy) included a link to it in her response to my post last week. Loved your post about the osprey learning to fly and now this one as well. We have tons of osprey here on Kiawah. The largest nest on the island was just outside my 3rd floor window for several years but has since fallen and left vacant. Sadly although several couples inhabited it, there were never chicks. And I’d LOVE to see a spoonbill up close. Have seen 1 or 2 over the years but it’s a rare occurrence. Are you in Florida??

    1. Hi Tina – yes, I’m on a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of central FL. Last year this same couple had one chick and this year they are three. But there were several attacks on the nest when they had eggs…I witnessed two, but these parents have been very good in defending the nest. It’s been so much fun to observe them a bit over a year now. Happy you liked their escapades, Tina.

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