Thursday, August 28, 2014

Too many chicks!!!

Well well bad news today. Just some fun behaviors observed. I visited one nest with three fat chicks. I have been here many times and tho these chicks must have fledged some time ago...they are ALWAYS on the nest. I watched the three of them food begging endlessly. Then I noticed that there was an adult on a power pole closer to me. I zeroed in on her with my scope...Mama. Then another osprey comes flying over the nest, tried to land but the three fat ones shook their wings and the flying one headed for Mama...she did not chirp or act defensive at all, so I thought it must be Dad. As this bird approached her she flew off, but did not chase. That one landed where Mama had been and first I noticed  it was a female ...then I noticed it was a juvenile!  I zoomed my scope back towards the nest, but there were still three fat chicks there! A visiting unbanded juvenile. Hmmmm there are several other nests a few miles away in several directions. Could be a chick from one of those . It's so interesting that the adult female knew it was a young one and showed no defensive behavior. Then I finally saw two of these osprey - blimps fly! So they have fledged, just prefer to sit around and eat.  Then I visited another nest where we had two younger chicks who have just fledged in the past day or so. (extremely late).  I located one chick in a tree, the other on the nest eating. Then the adult male showed up. One chick was flying from tree to tree and back to the nest. Weeeeeeeeee! The littler one did fly a few short loops and back to the nest. In the midst of this I looked up from my field notes and there were suddenly THREE chicks on the nest! All were sitting calmly. Dad was nearby in the tree. I was able to see that the visitor was banded and clearly older than these two resident chicks. No aggressive behavior as they sat there, tho the littlest chick hung her head a bit and acted submissive. Looking up at this big confident juvenile female,  I am pretty sure I heard her say "WTF?". Then after about five quiet minutes of this visitor looking around and assessing the situation, she hopped into the center of the nest and stole an old crusty piece of fish and took off! One of the chicks followed her! I yelled "thief!" She disappeared  behind some trees. After a short time the visitor returned to the nest again, and started food begging. Of course dear old dad would not comply, but he did not chase her off. She kept flying loops and returning to the nest, asking for food. The little chick layed down, confused? I was laughing out loud. Finally the visitor headed off towards home...and only then did the male deliver a fish to the little one.  So much fun watching these behaviors. The literature describes these common behaviors among juveniles, but I think the population has to be dense enough, with nests in close proximity, to observe these visits. And when chicks are banded it can be documented where they are from. It was a fun day in the field. I am still chuckling...

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