Thursday, March 31, 2011

MARCH 31, 2011

Nursing a bad back, Jack steers Little Bird to the osprey nest.  He pokes at the platform with 1. A boat hook,  and 2. A long, pliable pole of unspecified origin, the type found in abundance in our boat shed.  He collects the bird's feathers and bones in a bucket, and sweeps the platform clean.  He makes an appointment with the doctor for his backache.

After he sees the doctor, Jack takes the bucket to Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage.  A chipper and knowledgeable young woman there says the remains are those of a mature osprey.

Jack floats my theory that, with her mate gone, another male has taken up with the female.

"That could be true," says the young woman.  "Male ospreys have been known to step out."

She has another idea:  The osprey was killed by an owl.  Weak after its long migration, it was an easy target.  The owl took the osprey to the platform to finish it off.

Jack asks if the dead bird could have been our male.  The pair out there now are more subdued than they were.  Perhaps the female is mourning.

"It's more likely the wedding cake factor," the young woman replies cheerfully. "The initial excitement wears off fast."

This morning, the ospreys get back to the business of nest-building.  Jack reported that their second attempt (the first nest was cleaned away by Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage) was messy, filled with cornstalks and other debris.  Today they're gathering sticks -- two- and three-foot sticks.  They set them carefully in place.

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