It's been a hectic week of visiting nests, still trying to get bands read but so many nests are incubating now it's become difficult. We are finding new nests that are just being built now so we are working on identifying those birds. I find myself watching the Ospreys with the color banded leg tucked up so often....in their foot pocket! I ponder why they always tuck up the color band which is usually on the right leg. Do you think if we placed the color band on the left leg we would have fewer problems? Or do you think they would then become right legged standers and tuck up the left leg? Are they really just being difficult? How long can an osprey actually stand on one leg? Very long.....longer than my patience sometimes. Some of them seem to have learned to take off without ever really putting the banded leg down! Ah the frustrations we face! But I never give up. It's so fun to watch an osprey I have known for many years, and realize that even without reading the band, I find their faces familiar, their head markings so unique. I think it's late enough now to sadly conclude that some of my favorite birds have not returned and are probably no longer alive. Our oldest male, who I had known since he was two years old, has not shown up. His mate of 14 years seems to have found a new partner. I am not sure the deal is sealed tho. I thought that my old friend, who was 22 last year, did not seem to be his usual self last year. He was a male who was so dependable, always easy to find, perched near his nest watching over his family....but last year I often had trouble locating him, the female was often seen bringing fish, but then he would show up again. I will miss him....one of my first loves.
And the wonderful male whose chick ended up in rehab last year, has also not shown up. He was so attentive to that youngster who stuck so close to home after I released her ( after her 24 hour adventure which she never explained). He was always seen on his lofty perch, visible for miles, as I drove to his nest. He stayed for one week after the last chick dispersed....flying around with a fish to see if anyone needed it. After a week of no takers...he finally left on his migration. I missed him all winter as I drove past his perch. I was anxiously awaiting his return, but it has not happened. In his place we have another bird that I know quite well...one who was somehow displaced from his territory, and spent last summer visiting nests all over the metro area, looking for a mate and a territory. I am glad to see him settled down with a mate and chicks on the way. I wish him great success, but I also remember the male he has replaced, with some sadness. This is nature, this is life going on, and this is the life of a researcher who has followed a population of birds for 23 years....I know so many of these birds as my old friends. They are like family to me.