Tag Archives: Osprey

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

It’s Complicated.

I am puzzled. I’ve visited the osprey family four times in the last one week. I had expected to see the young lady do frequent flying practice, but that hasn’t been the case. Regardless of the timing and length of my visit, I’ve found mama osprey and the nestling sitting tight in the nest. Deeply involved in discussions.

Do you hear me mama?
Do you hear me mama?

I’ve witnessed a wide array of vocalizations, from pleasant discussion tones to loud shouting matches between mom and daughter. To the point that I’ve rummaged the internet for a rosetta stone version in osprey language. No luck so far.

Shall we talk or shall we fly?
Shall we talk or shall we fly?

The other day both mama osprey and the teen did some wing exercises in the nest. The nestling was flexing, but did not fly, and mama osprey did some Pilates. Lots of stretching going on, and lots of communication.

Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch...left, right
Mama osprey doing Pilates..streeetch…left, right

On the top of that, papa osprey has not shown up during any of my visits since more than two weeks back. Last time I saw him, he came empty-handed and mama osprey flew away immediately. Is there a rift between the parents? Papa sleeping on a couch somewhere? Or did something happen to him? I have no way of knowing.

My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11
My latest picture of papa osprey on May 11

This morning I went to see them much earlier than I usually do. First I saw only mama osprey. I was hoping the nestling had finally gone out for flying practice, but then I saw the breeze lift up a few feathers and discovered a brown back in the nest. The youngster was still sleeping! At 10:30 in the morning.

Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling
Mama osprey guarding her sleeping nestling

Soon the teen woke up and slowly stood up.

The osprey teen is waking up...
The osprey teen is waking up…

The dialogue they have been having every day since last Sunday started almost immediately. I waited and waited. No flying practice this morning either. But I noticed many new decorations hanging down from the nest. And the balcony flowers were still alive and well.

Osprey discussion...on the loud side this morning
Osprey discussion…on the loud side this morning

I started to get worried and wondered if something was not right. I decided to check on them more often from my terrace (using our strongest binoculars) to see if the youngster would fly at all during the day.  To my delight I saw her flying two short rounds fairly close to the nest late this afternoon! She didn’t soar high like her mama as yet, but at least these practice rounds were a bit longer than what I’d seen her do earlier, a few minutes each. So I’m hoping everything is alright. And that fishing lessons will follow. Family life can be complicated indeed.

Tri-colored heron in the reserve
Tri-colored heron in the reserve

I have to tell you something else. The other day I saw yet another bird I haven’t seen in the nature reserve before: a tri-colored heron!

And today I witnessed a “crowd” of four different birds on a little island in the marsh. The vacation season has started. Lots of demand for prime real estate with water views.

Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.
Four different birds on an island: small blue heron, small white egret, roseate spoonbill and two ibis.

Will keep you updated on developments. Hope your week is going great.

I Have a Surprise for You, Tiny!

After returning from my trip this morning, I headed out to see the osprey family. Before even unpacking my suitcase. About a week ago, I’d seen the youngster take off for a short flight above the nest, and I was excited to see if she would fly out of the nest today.

Im flying look mama osprey nestling 513
Last week’s achievement!

You noticed I said “she”? I’m now almost sure it’s a girl.  She is much like her mama. Just look at them side by side, the decorations on her breast are quite marked, like an elaborate “necklace” typical for female osprey.

mama osprey and youngster watching tiny ed
Mama (on the left) and youngster last week

When I arrived in the nature reserve, mama osprey was keeping an eye on the youngster, as usual. Papa osprey was nowhere to be seen. I assumed he was on fishing duty. I took my position under the trees and observed the two quietly for about 15 minutes. As there were no signs of anything much happening, I relaxed, put down my camera and just sat there lapping the morning sun.

The youngster is checking out something in the marsh
The youngster is checking something in the marsh

Suddenly the youngster turned, looked down…and just “fell” from the nest spreading her wings. She took me by total surprise! I had expected to see some wing flexing, but she just went over the edge and eased into flight! Of course I didn’t catch that very moment with my camera, but caught up a few seconds into her flight.

osprey youngster flying 521
Hello fish…I see you!

She was flying really low, close to the water. I’m sure she had seen some fish close to the surface and wanted to check it out. Since I was way back from the marsh, I could only see her a few times above the brush and the trees.

osprey youngster flying 3 May 21
Here I come!
I’m coming back mama!
osprey youngster back in the next
I made it!!

It was fantastic to see her fly. Her wings flapped a lot and were not yet perfectly synchronized, but she was in the air on her own flying about 2-3 minutes above the marsh! Then she soared upwards and made a successful, if not perfect, landing back into the nest. I’m sure you noticed how mama osprey was leaning outward to make room for her flapping wings.

Back in the nest waiting for lunch
Back in the nest waiting for lunch

I stayed with them for a while but there didn’t seem to be more practice sessions planned for this morning. I assume that the young one needs a little more flying practice before the diving and fishing lessons will start. I will try to keep a close eye on developments.Juvenile AND PAPA OSPREY 521

Before I left them, I noticed that mama osprey’s balcony plants are still green with some white flowers – after three weeks! I have to admire her gardening skills, among other impressive stuff I’ve seen over the last couple of months.

Hope your week is going great!

 

 

 

Look Mama! I’m Flying!

Since my last “report” from the nature reserve I’ve had two opportunities to visit with the osprey family.  First on Sunday afternoon, after a sumptuous Mother’s Day lunch, and then again two days ago.

Mother’s Day was fairly cloudy, but Tuesday was sunny and breezy. The two visits were quite different,  although it was clear already on Sunday that the nestling’s flying practice had started!

Mama osprey and nestling resting after lunch
Mama osprey and nestling resting after lunch

When I arrived in the vicinity of the nest on Sunday, mama osprey was looking after the youngster. She appeared a bit irritated. I soon discovered that some gulls were flying back and forth fairly close to the nest.  Too close. There might have been a “doggy bag” left from the family’s Mother’s Day luncheon, but mama didn’t welcome uninvited guests. After a few loud warnings, she decided to make it very clear that she preferred some privacy. It was her day, after all.

Mama osprey on her warning tour above the marsh
Mama osprey on her warning tour above the marsh

She flew a few fast and furious rounds above the marsh, and that seemed to do it. No more disturbance from the gulls.

mama ospreys warning flight 511  ed
Mama osprey on her patrol

It was funny to see how the nestling was laying low while alone in the nest. I couldn’t even see his/her (still not sure about the gender, but leaning towards a girl) head. It appeared above my horizon again only when mama was returning!

Mama osprey returns to nest
Mama osprey returns to nest

As soon as the peace was restored, the youngster started flexing his wings. Mama was still checking out something on the south side of the nest.

osprey nestling flying practice 511 ed

I overheard mama osprey giving some advice to the youngster, but unfortunately I didn’t understand all of it . I’m still a beginner in osprey language.

osprey flying practice 1 511 ed

The youngster jumped into the air and hopped from one side of the nest to the other. Accompanied by flying motions. I saw his/her feet in the air, not touching the nest for a second or so! I have a picture to prove it, but it’s completely blurred…silly me did something stupid in the excitement of it all.

Papa came home to take over child care duties...
Papa came home to take over child care duties…

After a little while papa osprey returned from his afternoon tour of the neighborhood. As soon as he touched down, mama osprey told him to take over the child minding duties, and flew away. I guess she needed some exercise too!

osprey mama and nesting best 513

Two days ago, my short visit was even more exciting! The youngster did real practice sessions above the nest under mama osprey’s strict supervision. I have prepared a small gallery below so that the youngster can show off his/her newly acquired skill!

When the young one was 3-4 feet up in the air, I was almost sure s/he would fly out! But it was not that time as yet.

It looks like I might miss the fishing lessons. Unless the youngster decides to wait for me to come back home from my upcoming trip.

I need to “fly” now.  See you all later, Tiny

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch. Fresh Seafood.

I couldn’t keep myself from checking on the osprey family again. You knew that, right? I had been spying on the nest from our terrace using binoculars …unfortunately it’s too far for me to get sharp pictures with my current camera gear.

The nest as seen from our terrace (almost half a km away)

So yesterday, after shoving down half a salad late in the lunch hour, I ran out to the nature reserve. Ok – I didn’t really run, but that’s how it felt in the afternoon heat.

Approaching the nest I only saw the mama.  She was observing me. The nestling was laying low, but I could see little movement of his head every now and then. They were not eating lunch as yet.

mamaosprey and nesting lying low
Mama osprey observes Tiny while the nestling is resting (head visible in front of mom). Note the balcony flowers still blooming.

It was about 2 p.m. and papa osprey was nowhere to be seen.  That’s until mama osprey thought I had been too sloppy with my camouflage. She gave out a few short high-pitched whistles, cheep cheep.  The calls were not the kind of frenzied cheereeks I had heard earlier when the dogs approached the nest, but papa osprey appeared almost immediately! He flew over the nest, looked down on me and tipped his hat (sorry, I missed that picture). That’s old Tiny, he seemed to think, no danger from her. He didn’t even circle the nest, just continued to fly high towards the beach. He has great intuition.

ibis flexing
An ibis bird fluffing her feathers
small heron wet 2
A reddish egret drying herself

I decided to turn and walked around the marsh to the other side of the nest  where the ospreys are more used to see joggers and other loose folks like me. I was still a bit away, busy watching some ibis birds and egrets washing and drying themselves in the marsh, when I sensed something in the air. I looked up and saw a huge fish hanging from the talons of papa osprey’s right foot high up in the air!

papa osprey bringing home fish for lunch
Papa osprey brings in fresh seafood

Lunch had arrived, fresh from the ocean! There was activity in the nest. I guessed the fish was portioned out. But I got a surprise! The nestling was being fed by his mama again!

gimme food says baby osprey
Mama, gimme food!
here you go baby mama osprey feeding
Here you go, baby…

I left them to enjoy their lunch in peace and quiet.  It was not yet the time for flying practice.

Fly high now – Tiny

 

Preparing for Graduation?

Today’s lunch time assignment in the nature reserve was exciting. Gorgeous weather and lots going on with the osprey family. Their house was clearly in need of repair and cleaning after the rains and winds we’ve had recently.

papa osprey flying to get stuff
Papa osprey going to Home Depot

Papa osprey was busy bringing in new twigs while mama osprey was doing repairs and cleaning the nest. She (I’m sure it’s her) had also potted some flowers on the balcony as you can see in the pictures. Green plants with white flowers.

papa osprey brought a stick_edited-1
…and coming back with a twig

I wondered whether the flowers were in preparation for the nestling’s graduation. It’s about that time, isn’t it? The youngster had grown so much in the last few days that it was difficult to tell who was who. He was almost the size of his parents now.

osprey nestling flexing
Whatever you say pa, I don’t agree!

I think it’s him here flexing his wings and talking back to his papa.  Stereotypical teenage behavior. He doesn’t have as much white on his head as his parents do, his head and beak are little smaller, and he’s still a little “fluffy” at the edge of his wings.  Did you notice the little white feather in the air?

osprey family all three
“We see you” say the parents. “Whassup in the reserve?” says the youngster.

And he wasn’t doing any chores. His papa was flying back and forth bringing in needed materials from Home Depot and his mama was busy repairing the nest.

Did you also notice that both papa and mama are looking straight at me, while the youngster had no clue that a budding ornithologist, although carefully camouflaged, was present? So it must be him.

osprey landing back to nest
Mama osprey returning to the nest, Nestling is laying low.

This was also the very first time I saw both papa and mama flying away from the nest and leaving the nestling alone there for a couple of minutes. When mama osprey executed a short flight (for exercise, I’m sure), she didn’t go far from the nest. She just circled it a few times and went straight back. But the fact that she did leave him alone speaks volumes. He’s approaching independence! I hope to be invited to the graduation party. And if I am, I’ll vouch for you too.

Take care now, Tiny

Solid Food!

Today is gray and rainy. I am happy I was “on assignment” in the nature reserve yesterday when it was hot, windy and just very cloudy. I half expected to see the osprey nestling standing on the edge of the nest ready to spread his wings so that a wind gust would take him up in the air. But he was not quite “there” yet.

When I approached their nest, I saw the papa osprey flying out for a fishing trip again.

papa osprey going fishing
Gone fishing…

The mama osprey and the youngster soon discovered that I was approaching. Both were peering out in my direction.

Mama osprey and nestling have discovered Tiny
Mama osprey and nestling have discovered Tiny

That’s when I saw that the nestling had grown a lot from last week! He was almost two-thirds of the size of his mom. And he was no longer been fed by the mama osprey. He had graduated to solid food! His head was bobbing up and down as he was happily eating from the fish that papa osprey had brought in a little earlier.

nestling and mama osprey ed
The wind was airing the young osprey’s feathers…

I stayed with them for quite a while. It was funny to see how the mama osprey always moved to the side of the nest closest to me. She was protective, but not alarmed. I hope that means she knows by now that Tiny is a friend 🙂

I might miss the exciting flying lessons as I have a grand baby of my own to welcome to this world any day now…

Take care and have a wonderful weekend – Tiny