Thursday, April 27, 2017

First egg at the Arb...

We have the first egg laid at the Arboretum nest! Around 9 a.m. And she started incubating immediately! Watch for subsequent eggs, usually laid 2-3 days apart. Ospreys typically lay 2-3 eggs, and occasionally four!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spotting scope disaster....

The bad news came yesterday that my scope cannot be repaired because they no longer have the parts. After 7 years they discontinue parts. They asked me to send the scope body in and they will give me a coupon towards another Nikon scope of similar value.....but there is no similar scope. Mine had an eyepiece that zoomed to 75....which made all the difference in the world for band reading. A replacement will only zoom to 60, as most 80mm scopes do. I am devastated. 
With so many bands to read, that extra reach made many bands readable that would not be otherwise. Does anyone have a Nikon ED 82mm fieldscope with the 25-75 zoom eyepiece they would be willing to sell??????? Anyone know of someone who has the eyepiece for that scope they might sell? Please share this post around to see if we can scare up a replacement so I can get back to work. Otherwise, this may be the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. No sleep last night.

Monday, April 17, 2017


Just some short updates....first of all we have our first eggs laid, so chicks are officially on the way! We also have the first woodticks, dang it. I am still trying to get around to first visits at some nests and still working hard on band reading, but still don't have my scope back yet. sigh. I am glad to see the the male at the Arb has been staying home and working hard on the's looking so cushy now. 
We are seeing extra Ospreys at so many nests these days, the population is growing and competition for good nest sites is increasing. I witnessed a pretty aggressive fight between two males trying to establish their place on a nest on a transmission tower...and they footed each other, locked together tumbling thru the tower. I gasped and said "oh god" out loud....thinking a rescue might be needed but they broke apart and both flew off alright. Hope they were really both OK.
But the more typical interloper just flies around, buzzing the nest without contact or serious aggression. I guess we need more if any Boy Scouts want to get their Eagle Scout badge by putting up an osprey nesting platform, have them contact me!
Also a thanks to the person who sent the kind card and generous donation today....she indicated that no acknowledgement was necessary, but I must....because I am so grateful to those who show their support for what I am trying to do. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. a million thanks to my osprey loving friend and supporter!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter...

Today's update on the osprey drama is that an unbanded male is at Z3s "other" nest. We hope this settles things and Z3 can now focus his attention on his mate at the Arboretum.
I also stopped at another nest on my way home from work today and watched a long sky dance....a courtship ritual. The male was so high up in the sky that I could not locate him at first, but I know the vocalization that goes with a sky dance. I finally spotted him doing the dipsy doodle dance with a bright goldfish. This courtship dance went on for a long time as the female was food begging....get that fish to her! Seal the deal! When he finally did that, they struggled over the fish....he was not too keen on letting it go. But he did and she left with the fish. This is not the same male who was her mate last year but that banded male has not shown up, so I hope they work it out. I have been witnessing a lot of sky dances this week...always so fun to observe. I wonder how many people don't notice this interesting behavior, because it usually occurs so high up in the sky. If you are not listening for the sometimes subtle vocalization that goes with the behavior, you might miss it. Happy life is beginning.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Polygyny again?

Well, kids, our male at the Arboretum is going between two nests. I am still hoping another male will show up at the other nest and chase him away. This is not likely to have a happy outcome for all involved. While it's true that another male here pulled this off successfully, his nests were in very close proximity so he could defend both nesting territories and just alternate fish deliveries! The two nests that Z3 is being seen on are fairly far apart and we are seeing Z3 absent from one nest or another for long periods. While it's easy to anthropomorphise about all this, it is instinct to try to spread the DNA when possible. Seeing an unmated female on a large undefended nest, near good fishable waters, has triggered Z3s urge to procreate. These are situations which occur most often when populations are small, with not many males to choose from or as populations grow and multiple opportunities present themselves. They commonly result in a failed nest for at least one of the females. Time will tell how this story ends. Remember that Ospreys are motivated by two strong survive and to breed. Z3 is just responding to those urges and an irresistible opportunity.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Old friends....

Another long day in the field trying to read bands and putting puzzle pieces together. The female that Z3 courted for a few days and then apparently abandoned, was alone this morning. But the exciting part of the day for me was reading the band on a very old friend. As my regular readers know, two years ago our oldest male at 23 years of age, returned from migration in very bad shape and was ultimately euthanized. Another one of our old friends did not return last year in what would have been his 23rd year. We have had a number of Ospreys live to be 21 or 22. Today I watched, with some astonishment and joy, a 23 year old male, working on his nest, bringing sticks, digging a nest cup for the eggs, fishing for his new mate, and chasing away eagles. I had to read his band to be sure it was him, tho I know his markings after all these years. I watched him for several hours....largely due to my need to read his band for sure. My mind was flooded with memories. In my early days on this project, another person working on the project said, " you will never get that males band read. He is too skittish". Well, that was like throwing down the gauntlet to me. I spent so much time sneaking up on him slowly, with my old entry level scope. I remember crawling on the ground, so I would not threaten him. It turned out to not be that difficult to read his band, and he has cooperated with me every year since. It has been easier with the hi powered scope, but today I had to hike in a little closer, like the old days. I enjoyed being out there and remembering all the years I have been watching this fellow. He is setting a new record, as he seems to be in great shape. No worse for wear. I did not see his banded female of the past few years, and he was feeding a new female. Last year his nest failed for reasons I could not fully understand, and I attributed some of it to his age. I did not expect to see him again. But I am thrilled to see him, watch him going thru all the normal rituals. I hope, I hope, I hope he is successful this year. He is such a cute osprey. I will have to go thru the records and see what I can figure out about when he first was identified at this nest, tho I believe he was there before I confirmed his band number. Old friends....nothing like it!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Arboretum cam nest...

Well, well, well....for those watching the Arboretum often seems to happen on this nest in recent years, a drama is unfolding. The male from last year, Z3, was seen on the nest when he first returned from migration. He did some work on the nest, bringing some unusual nesting materials. In recent days he has disappeared. I went searching for him today and drove over 100 miles checking nests in the vicinity, moving further and further away from the Arboretum cam nest. At the end of the day, he was found on another nest, bringing fish to another female. During my visits to the Arboretum nest, I found what may be his unbanded mate from last year, sitting on TOP of the cam itself. I must admit I am hard pressed to explain Z3's behavior. In my 23 years of studying these birds, "divorces" ( a pair of Ospreys splitting up to nest with other mates on other nests) usually occurred after a failed breeding season. But Z3 and his mate were successful in fledging one chick last year. Perhaps he was uncomfortable with the level of human activity near the Arb nest. The new nest he seems to have adopted is on a cell tower, far removed from the activity below. I did see evidence that he may have been at the Arb nest today also. For regular readers, you are familiar with our polygynous male who attended two nests and produced six chicks last year in another part of town. Is this what Z3 is up to? These two nests are not very close to each other. Time will tell how this drama unfolds. If the territorial male at the other nest returns, he is likely to displace Z3. Meanwhile if the female remains near the nest at the Arb, she may nab a new male. Time will tell how the story will end. I am surprised, although I will be the first to admit that I am still learning about osprey behavior after all these years. This is why I continue this work. This is why I think the research is still important and close observation has many more insights to offer. This also goes to show that what we can see while viewing these bird cams, is only a part of the story, and many interesting behaviors occur away from the view of the cam. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together is challenging sometimes, but it is what keeps me watching these birds!
UPDATE: the male, Z3 returned to the Arboretum nest this evening! I wonder what will happen next!