Osprey Chick Boot Camp. And Other Life Lessons.

The Osprey chick is in boot camp. Mama Sandy is trying to get her ‘wingersizing’. It’s time to strengthen her wings by exercising them.  And to improve her self-confidence after the tragedy that killed her sibling two weeks ago. So now Mama Sandy is often retreating to her perch to give the little one room to move around in the nest and spread her wings. Why do I say her? It is because I snapped this picture the other night at sunset time when Dylan walked me through the marsh.

osprey chick at sunrise ud125Her ‘necklace’ is very much like Sandy’s. So it’s a girl. Again. In the last few years Sandy and Stanley have produced mostly girls: one girl in 2014, two girls and one boy in 2015 and one girl in 2016.

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Now this girl needs to learn to fly. But she is not yet exercising enough. At least in Sandy’s opinion. So yesterday when I sat on “my” bench watching the nest, I saw Sandy teaching her. By role modeling flight from start to end. She walked the talk, so to speak. She took off from the perch and just flew around for a minute. And landing back on the perch she demonstrated her well-practiced “come-from-below” approach.

mama osprey flies around the nest ud125

Mama osprey returns ud125She did this repeatedly. She did not go anywhere, just flew around the nest so the chick could see her. And the chick watched intently. Even flexed her wings a few times.

osprey chick watches mama flying ud125

osprey chick streches her wings ud125

Mama osprey lands on the perch ud125I was impressed by Sandy’s home schooling skills. Then my camera battery warning light began blinking. I started to change the battery. And…like so often previously, that’s when Stanley appeared. My camera’s bottom wide open, I watched him zoom in, leave the fish to Sandy and leave. Sandy divided it into two pieces and they started to eat.

mama osprey and chick are eating ud125_edited-1The chick was hungry and wanted more. Or maybe her piece was smaller.

mama osprey and the chick ud125_edited-1In any case, after Sandy had eaten enough, she started to feed the chick.

osprey female feeds the chick ud125_edited-1Perhaps Sandy made a point right there. If you’re a baby and don’t want to learn to fly, I’m going to feed you like a baby. Or maybe that’s just my speculation. In any case, the chick’s recovery seems to be going quite well. The intensive flight preparation classes should get her airborne shortly.

After spending quite a bit of time with the Osprey family, I only had time to walk quickly around the marsh. I spotted my friend, the beautiful Tri-colored Heron.

tri-colored Heron 2 UD125And a hybrid Mottled Duck, whose friend put up quite a show for me. Or maybe I should say gave me a free preening lesson. If you have the time to actually be at the salt marsh, and need a smile, please watch the short video below.

duck ud125

A White Ibis family was foraging close by, and among them was this beautiful juvenile. She was only partly white. I am guessing she was born last year.

juvenile white ibis ud125At the far end of the marsh, the Clown (Reddish Egret) sported his red, spiked up hair do. He was busy chasing a Great Egret away from his fishing camp. The latter obliged.

Reddish Egret chases a Great Egret ud125Just when I was leaving the marsh, I spotted a Blue Jay. He didn’t care to pose for a portrait, but showcased the gorgeous colors on his back.

blue jay 2 ud125When I arrived home, a tiny Mockingbird baby was practicing her songs on the garage roof. Her repertoire was not yet well developed, but her obvious joy of just being alive was enough to give me a big smile – and something to ponder.

baby northern Mockingbird ud125Thank you for being here. Please stay tuned…the now traditional chick naming lottery is starting next week. Dylan will take care of it, just like last year. Peace.

72 thoughts on “Osprey Chick Boot Camp. And Other Life Lessons.”

    1. The Blue Jay’s colors are very bright – all different blue hues. They are quite easy to spot, but move constantly so they are difficult to ‘shoot’.

    1. Thank you Eddie. I find the natural life fascinating. Somehow the bird parents know exactly what to do – I guess they are better tuned into their instincts than we are.

  1. What a glorious celebration of spring here, Helen. As I always do, I enjoyed the activities of the new osprey family, especially Sandy feeding the chick. Your subsequent photos were also so vivid and clear; love that reddish egret and the blue jay back.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Jet. Mama Sandy is clearly a bit worried about the chick’s progress and is encouraging her to start a more vigorous exercise regimen. The Reddish Egret always gives me a smile with its elaborate antics 🙂

  2. What a beautiful story to read about Sandy ‘s schooling effort! Lovely heron photo capture.
    A wonderful treat for Sunday morning. 🙂

    1. Sandy is a great mom and right now she wants the chick to strengthen her wings and start flying exercises. Thank you, Amy! Have a beautiful week.

    1. Thanks, Brad! It was quite interesting to watch Mama Sandy demonstrating flying, repeatedly. She wants the chick to start an exercise regimen …pronto 🙂 Blessings and hugs!

  3. The Osprey saga and photos are wonderful to follow, and I like the videos too. It’s nice to live in a place like yours and walk around the marsh without people telling you to keep off certain areas, or not to do this and that.

    1. Thanks for following the Osprey family’s trials and tribulations. I am hoping the chick will soon start exercising her wings vigorously. It is indeed great to live so close to nature, but right now we have a heat wave that reminds us of July-August so I am only doing short walks of 30 minutes to see the birds – in addition to walking with Dylan 2 x 45 minutes a day 🙂

  4. Its good to see the dedicated parents and young “…….” growing up. Her necklace is quite elegant. I’m thinking of an elegant name for her. 😉
    Great captures Helen 💕

    1. I also laugh every single time I see ‘the clown’. His antics are so theatrical 😀 and sometimes he even looks at me as if saying ‘did you get that?’

    1. I am hoping the aviation lessons will help the chick to start strengthening her wings…she should be fledging before the end of the month. The neurotic duck gave me a smile too. Thanks, Maverick

    1. Thank you, Karen. It seems to me that parents in nature seem to know what to do…sometimes better than we, the human parents, do 🙂

    1. Unfortunately something happened the week I was in Ft. Lauderdale and the Everglades. One chick died and the other was affected too, but now seems to have recovered quite well.

  5. What a great Mum is Sandy! And, Stanley, a wonderful Dad. This little girl certainly has every opportunity to become a fully fledged member of the Osprey community.
    So many wonderful images, Helen, and I loved the video. You say he/she is a ‘hybrid’..!?
    The Clown (very apt name) always brings a smile, and the Tri-coloured Heron is a beauty.
    xoxoxo

    1. I agree with you, Carolyn, they are great parents. I just hope the chick is well enough to start her flying exercises soon. Hybrid means that, over time, the Mottled Ducks have mated with Mallards and the blue in the wing comes from that. They (males and females) look quite similar to female Mallards, but are lighter in color. The Clown always makes me laugh…he even looks at me after some of his performances as if asking ‘did you get that?’ 🙂

  6. Really great shots Tiny! The nestling is doing really well, and it is wonderful to watch the phases of development and training as you have. Thanks for sharing this, especially to see the devoted father bringing the food to the nest, what a great team! It is always a trial for bird parents teaching the fledglings to hunt for themselves, so this will be the next venture after the nestling becomes airborne. Loved the other pics of course, always love to see the Clown, and the gorgeous patterns and colors of the Blue Jay Have a great week my friend!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, my friend. It is fascinating to watch the chick develop and how Mama Sandy is encouraging her to start exercising her wings more. Stanley is still bringing in most of the fish, although Sandy has gone fishing a few times already. The Clown makes me laugh every time I see him. He does his antics (running, flapping his wings and making sharp turns) and then he looks at me…to make sure I caught it on camera 😀 Have a wonderful week, Ashley.

    1. Sandy’s repeated short flights were clearly a demonstration for the chick. I have not seen her do that in previous years, but this chick is still recovering and slower in her wing exercises. I am hoping she will fly in the next one week.

  7. Things appear to be normalizing at the marsh, for what I can see, the birds are looking good and more lively… great post Tiny! 🙂

    1. We have had a few thunder storms in the evenings lately and the water level in the marsh is higher and much more comfortable for the birds now. Thank you, H.J. 🙂

    1. It’s been great to follow the Osprey couple for four years now. I have learned so much and try to contribute to the research on non-migratory Osprey, which is still quite skimpy. Happy you enjoyed the post, David.

  8. Ahh…home-school for the little chick!! In one of those photos, the Mamma is so steely-eyed and nearly fierce looking, I would obey immediately!😀 Thank you for the glorious photos of the birds – the colours are stunning, particularly of the Heron and the Jay – wow! Also, thank you for sharing and teaching me so much about the birds – a real life Mockingbird! Fantastic! 😀

    1. Yes, Mama Sandy means business 🙂 She wants the chick to start a vigorous exercise regimen and I hope she will be successful. The chick should be fledging in the next one week or so. I have learned so much about all these birds in the last 4 years observing them up close and personal. The Mockingbird baby had fledged that day or the previous day. She still had some of her baby feathers and her head was a ‘baby head’, but boy was she singing! Thanks for being here, Annika.

  9. Great pics. The Boss and I did the beach yesterday, Sunday
    Went south to Indian Rocks so we did not get to see the osprey nest.
    Your pics are better than what we
    can see from the ground anyway.

    1. If you come to Sand Key Park, the best way to spot the chick is to watch the nest from quite far away, unless it is right next to the edge of the nest. Hope you had a great beach day just south of us!

  10. Beautiful photo of the Mottled Duck… the patterns in the water and the reflections of the bird. Also chuckled at the Clown chasing the Egret, but really it is serious business when it comes to protecting his fishing area.

    1. The Clown always gives me a good chuckle. Now he was running after the Egret and flapping his wings, then stopped close by with his hair spiked straight up…and the Egret, double his size, got the message 🙂

  11. The little Mockingbird does indeed look full of joy to be alive! Sandy looks more task-focused, busy making the point that learning how to fly is serious business. 🙂

    1. That little Mockingbird baby was singing her heart out. She must have fledged that day or the previous day as she still had a ‘baby head’ and some of her baby feathers. Seeing her so full of joy was very inspiring 🙂

  12. Just amazing what a short period of time passes from egg to being ready to fly. I am just so happy that little one survived. Beautiful captures of beautiful wildlife sweet Tiny. I enjoyed the slideshow and video. The red spiked-up hairdo gave me a giggle. Coming to see all your beautiful photos and reading what you say is so exciting. Love it! Hugs and give sweet Dylan nose kisses for us.

    1. I know, birds grow so fast! This chick hatched about 8 weeks ago and I hope she will actually fledge today! She was already a couple of feet up in the air last night 🙂 The Reddish Egret always gives me a chuckle – his hunting routine is so theatrical. Have a wonderful week ahead, dear Mags, Chancy and Pooh.

  13. Truly I feel like I am in a National Geographic documentary! Such amazing photos and I love your thinking about why the little one got the little piece of fish. We currently have lots of Canadian Geese and their gosling troops on the river banks. Last night we saw a swimming lesson. So adorable.

    1. Thank you for you very kind words, Sue! The salt marsh is such an amazing little world onto itself – I have seen 35 different bird species there over the years….and the ‘permanent residents’ have become like friends. I am happy you have some adorable goslings to observe 🙂 I’d love to see some swimming lessons soon too…have not seen any ducklings or Moorhen chicks as yet this year. Have a wonderful week ahead!

  14. Thanks Helen for taking the time to write such a lovely blog =) You have such a lovely way with words. I loved seeing the pictures of Dylan tonight with Eli, Bently and Saki too.  Of course, now you may have more followers since I forwarded your blog to family members to see Eli with his buddys at the dog park.  

    1. Thanks Kathy. These guys are such good buddies, but Dylan was fairly tight-lipped about their secrets 😀 Have a wonderful trip!

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