I have not been able to gather my thoughts and write for a while. I finally got a new used vehicle ( all that took a lot of time and energy) and am just starting to check nests again without the fear of being stranded far from home. Yesterday I went to visit a new homeowner who has a nest in her back yard...the nest is actually not new, but the previous owner who put it up, has moved so I am teaching the new owner about this amazing family she has living in her back yard! When I arrived she was very excited and said I should have been there at 6 a.m. when the chicks were all jumping up and down and hovering in the air. She thought one had fledged. I watched them all for a while...pretty calm, having their morning nap. Then I went up in the attic for a better view of the nest. As soon as my scope was set up one of the chicks took off flying loops and returning to the nest! Indeed, one has fledged! The landings were impressive too. No face plants for this one! Dad watched from a nearby tree, and after a while Mom arrived with a fish! So she is pitching in with the fishing for this family of three chicks, and her crop was full so she is also beginning to care for herself as she prepares for her migration. It was fun to see and fun to share the excitement with this new homeowner as she lives thru her first season of osprey watching.
We are also still tallying the losses after the big storm that moved thru on July 18. At least six chicks were lost around that time. We do not have monitors on all nests, (if anyone wants to volunteer) and I was limited by my failing car...so I am still making the rounds and counting heads. I am finding many nests with no adult on them...because we are at the chaotic stage of life, when all the chicks are jumping and flapping, coming and going, and the adults prefer to keep an eye on things from a distance. I try to search for all the adults and chicks....funny to locate chicks in odd spots, like on a nearby chimney stack, and I can't always find them all...so I keep trying, keep visiting. It takes time and a real interest and curiosity to find them all....but in the early days of this reintroduction, that is what my job was...to find them all, and it's a challenge I still enjoy. I wish I had more time. The peace of mind of knowing they are OK is the reward. I also get to see some interesting behaviors while searching for them. One of my new volunteers recently saw an osprey dive for a fish for the first time and come up successfully grasping his dinner , and she was thrilled...these are the gifts that we get when we move away from the nest to observe. Some people still erroneously think that when the chicks fledge, it marks the end of osprey season. But Ospreys are not like songbirds that just fly away one day and that is that. These youngsters will remain dependent upon their parents for food for quite a while...that phase can vary from about ten days to a month or more. Yes, we still have lots of time to watch our osprey friends...but we may have to search for them! Watch for foot dragging in the water, or trying to go into the water and get lift off out of the water, developing the skills of a real osprey...and yet, still returning to the nest to food beg.