Monday, September 30, 2013

End of September

I checked a few nests today and there are still some ospreys around! I visited one nest that was empty but as I sat there I saw an osprey flying off in the distance, so I went searching for him. I could hear a juvenile food begging but could not spot him. I went back to the nest...still nothing there, so I started walking and listening and finally located the juvenile in a tree. I did not find an adult, but I believe there was one that the youngster was asking for food. I went to another nest on the other side of town and found a juvenile female on her nest, preening and snoozing in the lovely autumn sun. So here it is, Sept 29, and we still have some youngsters that are not ready to start their first migration. Interesting. I will keep you posted!

Monday, September 23, 2013

First day of fall...

It was a glorious morning here in Minnesota...high fifties, a crystal clear sky, light breeze. I began my day at the farmers market and then proceeded on to check some osprey nests. I visited several of the nests that had fledged rather late and still had juveniles on them four days ago. The first nest I visited produced no ospreys at all, where there had been two young females a few days ago. The next stop was a nest that had one juvenile present four days ago. No ospreys seen or heard there either...but there was a lot of human activity there which made me wonder if that was the cause for the empty nest. I decided to pop over to a nearby nest where I had seen one adult on the last visit...he was still there, perched on the edge of the nest with a fish. After about fifteen minutes he flew in circles above the nest, displaying the fish for any hungry youngsters to see. Sure enough, he scared up another osprey and they flew in circles together for a while before the adult returned to the nest. Oddly, the other osprey landed only briefly before disappearing completely. I was not able to identify the bird as a juvenile or adult. Then the adult male took off also. I moved my car for a different view of the area. I located the adult male in a tree with his fish, but could not locate the other osprey. I returned to the other empty nest...still no ospreys there. I later received two emails from osprey observers who said they did see ospreys back there in the afternoon. I visited another one of the very latest nests to fledge and found two youngsters in the area, both with a fish of their own, tho I could not locate any adults. So we do have a few ospreys lingering in the area, tho many nests are empty. Its amazing how mesmerizing it is to just watch an osprey eating a fish, when you know it is a sight you may not enjoy for many months. I soaked up the sun and the pleasure of watching my beloved ospreys on this lovely early fall day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just a few ospreys left...

I have gotten behind gets busy for me this time of year. Last week I visited the young female who moved herself to another nest, where she was adopted . The other three chicks on that nest had become independent and the female has been gone for a while. The adopted juvenile was still sitting on the nest food begging, and the adopted Dad was on a nearby telephone pole. The youngster would fly loops around the male, while hollering for food vociferously. There was a strong north wind that day and when she flew back to the nest she was flying so fast, she zoomed right past the nest and had to struggle back against the wind. I can see why migration is so much easier with a strong wind ! She was still keeping her right eye closed a lot that day, as she has on previous visits. Today I checked her again and found no ospreys anywhere near the nest. So I guess she and the resident male are on their way. I will wonder about her for a long time. I also visited 13 other nests and found one nest with a single adult male, one nest with a single juvenile silently preening and at one of the latest nests to hatch and fledge chicks, there were still two chicks food begging loudly, tho I could not spot an adult. All the other nests were empty. One of my trusty volunteer nest monitors found a few chicks and adults present on her nests yesterday. So there are a few of our friends still in the area, but our osprey viewing days are numbered I am afraid. I will try to check on a few birds this weekend.

Sept 8, 2013

Checking a few more nests of the latest fledgers. I found both chicks still near the nest, both are females. One had a fish and was happily eating, the other was food begging. Lo and behold, here comes an adult with a fish, but it's the adult female, not the male. No sign of the male. Hmmmmm. I saw the male here a few weeks ago, but at this late date I would expect to see the male not the female feeding them. I know of two other nests that are being fed by just the female, with no sign of the male for some time...since mid summer? I think we may have lost a few males this year. But at least it was good to see those two chicks staying out of trouble! Still wondering if these chicks and adults will stick around longer than usual before beginning migration, given their late start in life. Keeping track of all this to see if climate changes will alter the ospreys behaviors.  

Sept 7, 2013

I checked on the juvenile who moved herself to another nest today. She was still sitting on her adopted nest alone. After 1.5 hours, her adopted father came with a fish for her...she grabbed it aggressively, and he went to a nearby power pole to sit and watch over her. Great male. She is keeping one eye closed a lot of the time, which worries me...but when she opens it, it looks fine. It's been like this for at least ten days. She flies well when she has the courage to leave the nest. I then visited another nest in the area and found another female chick sitting there alone too. Food begging whenever she saw another Osprey. This is how many female juveniles behave. When will they venture forth?
We have also been watching over an adult female who had some sort of eye first it seemed crusty and swollen...only open a slit and she did not leave the nest for many days. We were very concerned. Eventually she began to open it more, and began flying more...short distances, and was depending on her mate for food (fairly normal). She did fight the chicks for food when it was delivered. I last saw her last Sunday...eating a fish, next to her mate, on a cell tower a ways from their nest. Still keeping her eye closed a lot, but opening it to fly and land. I suspect they are on their way now...but I will look for her again tomorrow or Monday. We may not know about the final outcome with her eye until next spring. She is a middle aged female who has been a very successful breeder, so we do not want to lose her. Hoping to see her again in April! So I keep checking on the ones who I have concerns about. Still learning and documenting behaviors.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Polygyny update...

Another short post. I am sitting at one of the nests that belongs to the fellow who produced six chicks at two nests. When I arrived there were no ospreys here (or near his other nest). I waited. Finally the banded male showed up with a fresh, flopping bullhead. He perched and waited. No chicks showed up. He took a few bites of the head, and then he waited, looking all around. Still no juveniles. After about 15 minutes, he took off in the direction of the other nest. Less than two minutes later I heard the distinctive whining calls for food that a youngster makes, as he came flying in to the nest. But he had a fish! Not the same fish tho...different species and this one appears to be dry and stiff. Did he catch it himself? He is on the nest finishing it. He is the youngest of the chicks from this nest...seemed to almost be a runt at the beginning. He is doing well and has become a handsome male. Now he has finished his crusty fish tail and is moving sticks on the nest...finally flies off in the same direction that Dad went. Maybe he can hustle some of that bullhead! Yum. As I drove down the road I found one of his siblings perched in a tree, full crop, quiet. So Dad is still around, watching over the kids. For those of you who were worried...all is well, they will be fed or they will catch food when they really need it. Still fun to watch these behaviors.

Migration has begun...

Ospreys are definitely on the move now...many transmittered birds have left their territories in the UK, Montana. I am still checking nests here and finding many birds still present, but many nests are empty now too.

My favorites...

I just stopped at that favorite nest of mine...and found dear old dad perched high on a nearby cell tower, watching over things. One chick perched in a tree with a stick clutched in her talons! As I mentioned earlier , this is part of her practicing...she flew a round carrying that stick and landed without dropping it! Well done! Did not find the other chick or Mom. She may have started her migration. I am sure the other chick is around somewhere! Yesterday I visited the chick who moved herself to another nest. She is still there, alone. I saw none of the other three chicks or either adult. However there was another male perched nearby with a fish, unrelated to either her natal nest or adopted nest. Hmmmm. I wonder if part of her departure might be related to the fact that I have not seen her father since early summer. I think something happened to him and the adult female there had to care for these chicks alone. There may not have been enough food at her natal nest. It's a complicated situation, with many factors that may have led to her move. Interesting tho, and I continue to learn so much about the subtle behaviors, reactions, survival tactics that influence every bird. Still spending a lot of time in the field, gathering data, observing, learning.

September 1, 2013

Well...I went out just to check a few nests quickly today...and was gone all day. That's what happens to me! I found a lot of food begging chicks...with no visible adults! They seemed to be food begging from each other. One pair of juveniles were launching into a chorus of food begging when two turkey vultures flew over! For Pete's sake! I also spent two hours at one of the nests that belongs to the male with two families. There were two chicks there, moving around from one perch to another, sometimes on the nest, hollering for food from each other. Their crops were empty and neither one pooped in that time. I saw no adults at all. Finally the female chick took off and the male chick remained on the nest, silently waiting. I also checked on one of the last nests to fledge chicks and found all of them present in the area, perched around, flying loops, going from perch to perch. So all have remained out of trouble and close to home. I did see one adult there, soaring above. Some nests were empty and few females were seen. I did see two mated pairs, still hanging out together a short ways from their nests...good to see them, knowing that their time together will be short now. I say silent farewells, hoping they all survive to return to each other, their territories, and to me!