12 August 2009

It appears the osprey have left our nest on Hilton Head Island and headed south to Central or South America. The parents, Benecio and Bella, and one of their offspring, MG, may have left a few weeks ago as I had not seen them in a while. GJ on the other hand hung about on the nest and I believe finally vacated it about a week ago.

This past season began a bit earlier than others with the osprey arriving January 15, only to find a pair of Red Tail Hawks enjoying the view from the communications tower. The male osprey was the first to arrive and the female followed in short order. We were a bit concerned with their early arrival due to the cold weather that was to follow. Both ospreys began renovating the nest from last year while chasing off other osprey looking for a home, possibly offspring from past seasons. For about a week three ospreys were seen on the nest, two of them our couple, but the third we could not distinguish, as we never could make out its head markings. It could have been a young male attempting to steal the female away.

After two weeks of nest rebuilding the osprey couple began mating and about five weeks later the first egg was laid March 7, the second egg March 10, and the third egg March 12/13. Both parents were very attentive to their eggs as opposed to last season. The parent osprey appeared much calmer and mature. The female never left the nest during thunder and lightning storms, where last year she abandoned her eggs during cold stormy days and in the end the eggs didn’t hatch.

On April 14th the first chick, GJ, hatched (38 days), the second chick, MG, hatching on April 16th (37 days), and eventually the third chick, DS, hatching April 18th (37/38 days).
The chick’s quick growth was quite astounding for us as this was the first season we have been able to see osprey chicks develop. Palmetto Electric has had the osprey nest on the communications tower since 1989, but the webcam had only been installed in 2007. In 2007 the osprey couple, Ollie and Olivia, had three eggs with no luck in any of them hatching. In 2008 Ollie and Olivia were driven out from the nest with our current couple taking over. The new couple had the same result, three eggs – no hatchlings. Our third cam season proved to be successful even though the third chick, DS, died after its fifth week on the nest.

Throughout the season the male provided a generous amount of fish for his family and the osprey chicks grew into juveniles. As time approached for the young ones to fledge they flapped about the nest, practiced hard and strengthened their wing muscles. MG, the second chick, was the first to fledge with GJ following along about one week later. In time both juveniles were flying about and landing effortlessly on the nest.

We held a contest for our blogger’s to name the osprey couple and the winning names, submitted by viewer Katt, are Bella and Benecio.

Many viewers asked why we haven’t banded the osprey. The osprey nest is located atop a one hundred foot tower, which also resides within a quarter mile or so of our local airport. The communications tower, which is regulated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), is required to have a technician that is certified with antenna, tower climbing, and rescue skills. The problem is we don’t know of anyone in the area that is certified to climb our communications tower and also knowledgeable of osprey to band them.

With our osprey season now at a close we at Palmetto Electric would like to thank all of our cam viewers and blog participants for a successful year. We had a great time building our own osprey community and to want express appreciation to the local group of viewers that were able to gather to discuss our resident osprey. We are considering streaming audio/video for next season, but that is dependent upon equipment cost. The blog will remain open for commenting and the camera will continue operating unless we have maintenance to perform. Again, a very big thank you to all for this past 2009 osprey season and your participation.

MG - moderator

08 August 2009

One of our bloggers, Realist, posted a question for us:

Question: Have read differing information about chicks learning to fish and when. Scotland says chicks migrate before learning to fish; Blackwater says they learn to fish from parental guidance before starting to migrate. Google isn't helping me much with this information. Thanks for any clarification you all can give me.

From everything I have read
juevenile osprey have an instinctive ability to catch fish and are not taught by their parents. The following excerpt is from the Rutland Osprey site...In 1954 a British naturalist called Colonel Meinertzhagen published a paper in which he described his observations while on holiday in Sweden. The paper, entitled The education of young Ospreys, describes parents apparently luring young from the nest by flying past with fish and also repeatedly dropping fish into the water, perhaps encouraging their young to stoop for them. However, others have questioned Meinertzhagen's interpretation of his observations and it is difficult to find other evidence to support the "education" thesis. Roy Dennis believes that there is no evidence at all of Scottish Ospreys teaching their young to catch fish. It would certainly be interesting to hear of any recent observations of activity like this.

So by the above excerpt I suppose it's not conclusive. If anyone can expound on this topic please post your comments.

04 August 2009

Just to let everyone know......we WILL NOT be turning the camera off unless we have maintenance to perform on the camera and its respective equipment. By leaving the camera on we all can watch the local birds on the tower, so keep watching.

03 August 2009

And the winning names for our Osprey Parents are...

Bella and Benicio submitted by our blogger/viewer Katt.

We had many names to choose from and we would like to thank all of our bloggers for participating in naming the osprey parents.