Monday, July 19, 2010

JULY 19, 2010

We got up Saturday to find the nest empty.  We were devastated at the thought that we might not see the ospreys again, but before long, one glided low over our yard and landed on the nest.  It was the baby! This "baby" is now the size of an adult bird and has a wingspan of about five feet.  The only way we can tell it from its parents is by its mottled brown feathers.
The rest of the weekend it took short practice flights, mostly upriver and then back over our yard.  Mama and Papa, who seemed to have decided on a tough-love approach by staying away from the nest, came back to voice osprey approval, and also to bring fish for the new flyer. The baby had worked up a great appetite.  This morning, after a flying session, we saw Mama breaking off bits of a fish and tenderly offering them to her youngster.

Monday, July 12, 2010

JULY 12, 2010

Clearly, Mama and  Papa think it's time for the second chick to move on.  No doubt they are weary of doing umbrella duty through days of blistering sun and torrential rain.
They try sitting with the chick and bribing it with fish.  They try example:  Papa swoops and soars, Mama splashes in the river.  They fly off in hopes that the chick will wonder where they've gone and come after them.  Papa perches on the antenna of a neighbor's power boat and cheeps encouragement.
The baby's trying to fly, really it is.  Like its sibling, it stands on the edge of the nest and flaps for long minutes.  We get very excited, but the chick always ends by folding its wings and settling back down. Once or twice it's gotten a few inches of air, but it has grasped the nest so tightly that it has taken a few sticks with it.
Of course all activity in the house has ceased as we watch the birds.  Jack has discovered that the best viewing place is from the couch on the sun-porch.  I check the nest every few minutes.  Once I thought I'd missed the great moment, for the nest looked empty, but an inspection with binoculars revealed a feathered head.  Not yet!

JULY 9, 2010

The weather is cooler, and the ospreys' spirits, and ours, have risen.
Jack met a woman in a doctor's office yesterday.  She's a devotee of the eagle webcam at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County.  She assured Jack that raptor chicks hatch up to a week apart, and that their development is similarly uneven.
We now believe that the first chick, which was the size of its parents and which had been faux-flying for some days, did indeed fly away before the very hot weather set in.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

JULY 8, 2010

The 100-degree-plus temperatures in the last week have taken their toll on the ospreys.  Several days ago, we noticed that there was only one chick in the nest.  We're hoping that that's because the other one has fledged.  Papa, too, has been missing, so perhaps they are somewhere together.  We've grown fond of our ospreys and it's distressing to consider the alternative.
Mama shields the chick in the nest by spreading her wings to create shade. As the sun moves, she does, too.  On occasion, she stands on the edge and flaps her wings -- to get a little air moving, we think.  When it's too hot for even that, she tries some osprey ingenuity:  She plunges into the river, splashes around to get good and wet, then flies back to the nest to resume her vigil.
It's a tiny bit cooler today, and we've noticed some fishing going on.  As we've said, eating fish is how ospreys take in liquid.  So we're cautiously optimistic about their well-being.  We're also actually looking forward to a thunderstorm.