Sunday, August 23, 2015

The rehabbed adult male....

Today I returned to check on the adult male that I released several weeks ago. If you read the earlier post about him you know that the family dynamics were not exactly what I expected upon his return to his family after a month in rehab. The female treated him like an intruder and would not let him near the nest. I have returned to visit several times and found him sitting near the nest once, with all his chicks on the nest with full crops. I did not see him feed them tho and the female still chased him off. On another visit he could not be found anywhere. The volunteer monitor has not seen him either. The female seemed to be caring for the chicks alone. When I arrived today I found one chick on the nest and another one arrived a short time later and perched nearby. Much to my surprise, the male came flying in with a fish and gave it to the chick on the nest! She grabbed his foot in the process of diving for the fish, but she finally let go and he zoomed off. He returned shortly and perched nearby as one chick ate and the other begged for food. I enjoyed watching him closely as he watched over his territory. Then some chaos errupted with another osprey flying around, which was the third chick and then the female arrived on the nest with a fish for the chick who missed the males delivery. Suddenly there were three Ospreys flying around and I was not certain who was chasing who! And as quickly as that brouhaha exploded, it ended and the flying Ospreys disappeared, leaving two chicks, each eating their own fish. I stayed for four hours just watching every behavior. I hoped the male would return, but he didn't. The female was there standing guard for part of that time, so I have not seen him feed the chicks when she is present. But one big question has been answered. The month long absence while he was in rehab, did not turn off his parental instincts. He still clearly feels that this is his territory, and these chicks are his to care for. I am still so curious about these birds and I continue to learn something every day I spend in the field.  At one point today there was one chick on the nest, seemingly positioning herself for the next fish delivery. The other chick was perched nearby in a tree, also waiting for food. The chick on the nest saw another osprey, not one of the family, and gave a little alarm call and flew up to circle around and the chick in the tree seemed to see this as an opportunity to sneak in and take over the nest, so she zoomed over to land on the nest immediately while the other chick flew a brief loop around the nest. The first chick had lost her position on the nest, and that started a little squabble. She landed on the other chick and they both fell off the nest, but the original nest sitter was the one to get back on the nest first! It was like a little game of musical nests! So interesting to watch what seemed to be tactical maneuvers by the chicks to get the prime spot on the nest, to be positioned to get the next fish. I watched the jockeying for position, back and forth. This is probably a response to not getting enough food, so the competition for fish becomes exaggerated. There is always something interesting to watch! Even just noticing that when the female was there standing guard, the chicks finally felt free to snooze a bit, knowing that she would alert them to any danger. I am never bored watching these guys, always learning something. So that is the update on the family of the rehabbed male. All Ospreys are well, and the male continues to try to inhabit his territory and care for his offspring. It will be interesting to see if the female will leave soon, allowing him to take over complete care of the chicks, or if she will fight to the end of the breeding season. Both adults are displaying strong urges to care for these young Ospreys under an unusual circumstance. 

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