Tuesday, July 17, 2018

another rescue...

Another eventful day in the osprey world. Last sunday when I visited this nest it was clearly tilting and looked as if it might dump three chicks any day. I could see that the bottom of the box was deteriorating.  I fretted about what to do.  I called a wonderful guy I met last year named Ken Conrad and he came out today, with his friend Dave Faulk, and he climbed the pole, attached some supporting arms so the box is temporarily stabilized and those chicks are out of immediate danger. We will replace the whole nestbox in the fall after the Ospreys leave. There were a few breath holding moments as the oldest  of the three chicks kept standing up and putting his wings out. I hoped he would not jump prematurely, and thank goodness he didn’t. Whew. The female was flying and giving alarm calls and these chicks appeared to be around five week old, when they are still usually obeying her calls to lay down. The youngest of the three remained hidden thru the whole operation, and in fact I was worried that we had lost one since Sunday, but when Ken had returned to the ground and we observed from a distance, three heads popped up. And dear old dad arrived carrying a fish. In fact, this is the same male I rescued last week. I noticed the tilt of the box when I rescued him, and a week later it seemed worse, so I spent a sleepless night trying to formulate a plan to alleviate the potential disaster. I am sure the fix will hold until they fledge in a few weeks and we will complete a more permanent fix in a few months. I cant express enough gratitude to Ken and Dave for coming to the rescue without hesitation. I cant do this alone and I am so deeply appreciative of the wonderful people who pitch in to assist with the care of the Ospreys and the support of the ongoing research. A million thanks to Ken for being a lifesaver. And I also want to thank Steven Koski at Xcel for hooking me up with Ken last year. It takes a village! You can view photos on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

important article...

This is an important and disturbing article...please read it. It has far reaching implications, outside of Yellowstone ....and is why the ongoing accurate monitoring of our population of Ospreys, and many other long term wildlife studies, may be critically important down the road. Some small acts can throw everything out of balance. Hope the link works...

Saturday, July 7, 2018

6 a.m. phone call...

We’ll I have had an interesting few days. Yesterday morning I recieved a phone call shortly after 6 a.m. Of course that is always a bit unsettling. It was from an employee at a gravel pit where there is an osprey nest. They had found an osprey up in some of their equipment and they got him out but he would not fly away. So they put him in a box and called me. I drove the long trip thru rush hour traffic and picked him up. Sadly, he was a male from a nest with three chicks in it. He seemed fiesty tho. I took him to The Raptor Center. They were very busy so could not examine him while I waited. I worried constantly about him thru the course of the day and evening of course, and emailed requesting an update. Finally today they contacted me and said they found no injuries and he flew well when they tested him so he was ready for release. He must have just been stunned by his predicament yesterday. I went to get him and return him to his nest. When I opened the box, he stepped out, turned around and stared at me. I stared at him. He was less than two feet away from me, and we had a moment! He did not fly off tho, so I backed up, took the box back to the car, grabbed my iPad to take a photo, walked around the car and he was still just standing there! I was starting to worry a bit....but when I approached him again he finally took off. He flew perfectly, tho not towards the nest, but in the opposite direction! He immediately began chasing another osprey. I counted the chicks in the nest and all three had survived tho they had empty crops. The female began chirping and food begging ...this is called mixed messages! But it was so interesting that this male was more concerned about defending the territory than feeding the chicks. I suppose in those 24 plus hours, a single female with chicks and no male defending the nest, must have looked like a territory that might be up for grabs. This could attract males that are looking for a territory. Sometimes, this is how a young male can establish himself. But our male decided that dispatching that intruding male was the first order of business. He was quite aggressive in defending his nest, dive bombing and footing the interloper. He did finally go to the nest and the female literally got in his face about her desire for some fish! He remained focused on the other male, and he finally went to a nearby perch where he could watch over everything. The female finally left, perhaps to get some food, since he was watching over the kingdom. I love watching their behaviors, especially in unusual circumstances. I remain so curious about their reactions, and how they cope with difficulties. At any rate, I am relieved that our guy is back with his family and all is well on that nest.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth......

Happy Fourth of July to you all......it’s not one of my favorite holidays, nor is it enjoyed by the Ospreys. We have several nests on ballfields lights, where fireworks are shot off every year. We have often lost chicks on this night. I presume they jump out of the nest too soon, out of fear, and are predated on the ground. So few people think about how these activities affect wildlife. I checked many nests today and had to wait out some heavy rain several times. The reward was counting many chicks. At one nest, as the rain slowed down I watched a female standing up with her wings out, providing shelter for her young.....and a cute head popped out from under Moms breast, all snuggled up beneath.....so sweet. She almost seemed to be hugging her little guy. Another chick snuggled up on her side...but that guy who got the prime spot for weathering the storm, was so cute, looking up at mom....don’t squish me!
Now this is the way to spend a holiday like this....peaceful, endearing. I also stumbled upon a new nest being built....I am not sure if it’s a frustration nest or a totally new nest, since the male was unbanded, but it was not far from a failed nest. Hmmmmm. Tomorrow I will try to visit some nests where fireworks went off, to count heads again and see if they all survived the chaos.

Friday, June 29, 2018

99 degrees!

It’s a stinking hot day out there today and I was out there until I could no longer bear it. Those Ospreys get no respite tho, until evening. I watched those females valiantly trying to shade their chicks. Thank goodness it is quite windy today which helps a bit. The temp at my house now is 99 with a dew point of 70. Uff da. The adults and the older chicks can handle this heat if it is not prolonged. The newly hatched chicks tho, and we do have some, cannot thermoregulate at this point and this is an extreme stress for them. I am hoping they all survive, but we wont know because they are still too small to count. It’s important that they stay hydrated and the only fluid they recieve is from the fish they eat. We have some wonderful devoted males who are great at providing, and fish are abundant in Minnesota, so we can remain hopeful. I am now busy counting chicks on nests, and tho we wondered if the late spring would produce smaller broods, I am seeing many three chick nests, but also some failures. Time will tell what the overall counts are. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

counting chicks.....

It’s that fun time of the breeding season when we are beginning to be able to see the little chicks and start counting them. Some of the early nests have chicks that are now over two to three weeks old and are fairly easy to see. they are starting to look like real Ospreys now! Some of the later nests are just recently hatched and we still can’t quite see the wee ones in the nest cup, but we can see from the adults behavior that they are, indeed, there! I am happy to report that I have seen signs of hatching at the nest of our formerly single dad. What do I call him now? He is a dad again! Yeah! We are also watching some problem nests that were built in difficult spots. I have two ”nests” on top of a metal center pole of a cell tower....although there is not much of a nest per se, since there was nothing to anchor the sticks to, so most of them fell down below and the Ospreys laid eggs precariously on top of the metal, with little protection. I was actually hoping the eggs would not hatch, because I knew it would be difficult for chicks to survive a storm in that situation. One of these nests did have eggs that hatched and two small chicks were seen, but on the next visit they were gone. The parents continue to try to rebuild a nest, but it just won’t work. Perhap its best that gene pool not be reproduced! Neither of these males are young birds either.....one is ten years old, the other is 11. Both have nested successfully in the past, tho one of them always seems to choose odd, precarious locations. A daredevil, he is. But this is not a successful breeding strategy and will not effectively spread his DNA.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A full house!

We now have a full house, with three chicks hatched on the Arboretum cam nest! First chick hatched on 6/11, second on 6/13, and the third on 6/14.
The male on the Arboretum nest is always feeding that female! I am so touched by his attentiveness and devotion to his large family. Remember back to his first year when he was clumsy, stepping on eggs (yes he cracked one), as he struggled to figure out how to be a good male. He has become a model male osprey, delivering food often, feeding his mate, perching nearby. 
All chicks are being well fed. The little guy is still weaker as far as holding his head up, but he definitely is getting enough fish. The oldest chick clearly has a stronger neck and “gets” the feeding routine better as far as grabbing the food and swallowing it. Then dear Dad showed up and, yes, he tried to feed Mom again! His instinct to feed his family is so strong. They are all growing quickly, gaining strength and we are so thrilled to watch this threesome.