Saturday, June 12, 2021

Hot, Hot, Hot...

 We have had a miserable 9-10 days here with temps soaring above 90 every day, sometimes close to 100, with dew points often in the  upper 60s. Truely miserable, and dangerous. It finally started to cool down a bit yesterday and today was lovely. I checked nests almost every day thru that heatwave....leaving home around 6:30 in the morning so I could quit around 12-1:00....a few days I was out longer than that. It totally drained me. And it was not easy to watch those ospreys struggling, panting, eyes closed, wings drooping. I was terribly worried that we would lose some of these newly hatched chicks, since at that early stage of development they cannot thermoregulate. I watched a few experienced and devoted Dads, standing right next to the female, wing to wing, to create a bigger area of shade for the wee ones. Every time the female moved, he would move with her to keep that large block of shade intact. On some nests, I saw him shading while she fed them. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye, to see them caring for their offspring in these challenging conditions. (And remember, the only fluid they get is from the fish they are fed.) Today it’s only in the mid 80s and the dew point has dropped into the upper 40s. Whew! I was amazed and very happy to see all the nests I checked doing very well....chicks bopping around on the nests, parents both present. No panting, everyone perky and hydrated. I am starting to be able to count chicks on many nests, and it’s such fun to watch the youngsters as I can finally see them, watch their movements,  their sweet faces looking up at Mom and Dad with an open beak. We have more heat coming, but I know that they do fine when they get a little older, are beginning to lose some down and grow some little feathers. We still have some nests that are behind, where eggs were laid quite late....and those parents seem to be doing alright and continuing their incubation duties. Fingers crossed for those eggs. This has been an unusually long and intense heat wave for this early in the summer. 

These are some tough birds....unlike me!  

Monday, May 24, 2021


 The day has come.....that exciting, uplifting day we wait for...and it never gets old. The first chicks have hatched! And I know I say this every year, but it’s like I have never seen it before as watch those first feedings. Still a thrill!

I was lucky to meet up with some great volunteer monitors this morning at a nest where I had predicted hatching might occur. We watched the early, subtle behaviors....she is sitting a little higher, she is getting up to look down more often....the male stops by to peek, and they both stare into the nest cup. She asks quietly for some food and off he goes....he returns quickly with a stick. Thats not what she was asking for tho....we need some fish here. This trip he was gone a while....and we were starting to get impatient. But I said, I can feel that he is on his way back with some food.....and sure enough, shortly after that he appeared with a big goldfish, and she quickly ate some of the boney parts of the head and then began leaning into the nestcup with tiny bits of fish for the newly hatched chick. YES! Even tho we know we will not be able to see the little guys for about two weeks, we have seen the evidence that at least one of them is there!
I moved on to checking several other nests that might be hatching today.....two were just sitting very low, very calm....but when I came to one of the last of the early birds in this area, I knew instantly! The male was on the edge of the nest watching as the female was feeding a chick! Woo hoo! It is still a rush and tonight we celebrate as the class of 2021 is popping out of their shells!
I am also still investigating new nests.....and a huge thank you to those folks who do report new nests to me!!!! And we are still waiting for a few nests to lay eggs. They are getting to the end of that window when they can successfully produce chicks...and their hormone levels are dropping. We still may see new nests being built all summer, and we refer to these birds as “ housekeepers” since they will not lay eggs, but may stake out a territory and play house all summer in preparation for next year.
So, it was a good day....welcoming new ospreys into the world is always a joy!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Will it work out?

 I am getting a lot of questions regarding the Arboretum nest....many are concerned that the eggs are being laid too late, so let me tell you a little story. About five years ago we had a pair of ospreys that we were concerned about since it was getting to be mid May and no eggs had been laid. We kind of gave up. But then we discovered that they had laid eggs at the very end of May! We watched them carefully thru the breeding season, and yes, they were a bit behind some of the others. The chicks finally fledged at the end of August. I always like to see young ospreys have about a month post fledge to learn to be ospreys, to build the necessary skills to care for themselves before they begin their solo migration. When they fledged so late, we were concerned since many ospreys begin their migration in late August to mid September. However, that male, one of our favorites who is still with us, stayed around and provided for those two chicks until they began their migration in the first week of October, and he stayed one day after the last chick dispersed before he began his migration. So we know they can be successful when eggs are laid a little later, and we hope this male at the Arb will become a great Dad. A lot depends upon him. The first ospreys to lay eggs are always the older, established, experienced birds....but when one of them does not return, as happened this year at the Arb, it can take some time for a new mate to be found. We watched as two different males competed for that female and that territory, and then they did begin laying eggs. Time will tell if they are all fertilized. But we are hopeful and past experience tells us that they can be successful, even laying their eggs a little later. But they have many hurdles ahead, as do all ospreys. We are cheering them on and thinking good thoughts....and a little luck wouldn’t hurt!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021


 The second egg was laid this morning at the Arboretum Osprey cam nest....if the pattern holds, we expect the third egg may come on Friday morning! 


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Sunday, May 2, 2021

 Wow its been hard to find time to write a post for this page! Crazy time. Of course, up to my eyeballs trying to read bands and get incubation dates. As many know, we do fall in love with some of our older birds and it’s particularly sad to lose one that’s been around a long time. One of my favorites did not return this spring. He would have been 18. He was a super reliable Dad and mate for so many years. I spent a few quality moments with him last fall, when it appeared that all his chicks had flown the coop and there he was, alone, basking in the autumn light. I kept hoping he might still show up this spring, but at this point I have to accept that his productive life has probably come to an end. The happy part is that one of his offspring is now 10 years old and is also a reliable Dad and mate. His photo is below....from Ann Merritt. its a joyful feeling to know that these good genes are still being passed on. I am sure he probably has grandchildren too....if only I had time to research the lineage!

I have also seen some sad, but not entirely unexpected situations. Last week I watched a male moving things around his nest, and realized what I was seeing was a face mask. This male flew off with the earloops on the mask tangled around his leg. My heart sank. He landed in a tree and he pulled at it for quite a while and eventually it dropped to the ground. Whew. But sadly that probably means some other creature may get tangled in it. PLEASE, if you are discarding a disposable mask, pull on the earloops until it tears away from the mask. This could be a death trap for a chick. Be mindful. And spread the word. I wish I had a photo to go with this plea.
Believe it not, nearly a month into the breeding season, I am just finishing all my first visits to all known nests. I think I have about two nests that I have not been to even once yet....but some have been visited more than once. Then I need to begin checking nest poles that have not been used, to see if we have any new occupants. I have found three new nests so far. Still have some bands to read too. Its such a big project now. I will have some more teaching stories coming up stay tuned, tho the posts arent happening as much as I wish! Candle burning at both ends!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Arboretum cam nest....

 So sorry for the lack of posts. I am overly busy dealing with some challenges....but we finally have a pair of ospreys at the Arboretum cam nest. The male is a new one, MS, who is three years old and was hatched on a nest nearby in Carver Park. This will be his first breeding attempt. The female is unbanded and I believe she is a new female. I have tried to compare her markings to the female‘s from last year on some saved screen shots. I will keep working on that. The male has exhibited some defensive behaviors, turning his back on her, dropping his wings and shaking them. He also looked at her and put his wings out and approached her as if he was going to push her off the nest. These behaviors are not uncommon with a new pair. We will see what happens!

We also do have some Ospreys incubating...those early returns, the old mated pairs, get right down to it!

I also want to thank The Raptor Respurce Project, Debbie Jordan and Rob Van de Loo for their generous donations to this project. I am so grateful for the support!!!!