12 July 2011

Looking Back To The 2011 Season

Our season began mid January when the first osprey was spotted on the nest. In less than a month’s time a new pair had established themselves on the platform without any of last year’s interference from other ospreys. The new male spent little time in repairing the nest, which was a major undertaking since the nest was left unoccupied from 2010 and was practically bare. The pair worked on nest building, though their construction skills left much to be appreciated. By the look of the nests construction, it could be surmised that this was a young breeding pair.

Throughout February and into late March the pair mated and continued nest building and on March 26th the first egg was laid. The second egg was laid March 29th and the third was laid on the 31st. During late March we had tremendous lightning and thunderstorms and it was very encouraging to see that the female was not frightened off and stayed with their eggs.

In April we named our pair Bea and Jasper, which was submitted by Beth from Ohio. The weather improved and Bea and Jasper took turns incubating their clutch of three eggs.

On May 4th the first egg hatched at 9:38 a.m. and the chick was named MKD. May 5th brought us the second chick, TE, which hatched around 6:40 p.m and the third chick, MT, hatched May 7th around 10:13 a.m. With three hungry chicks Jasper’s hunting skills quickly took center stage and he didn’t disappoint by bringing in several Mullet each day. Unfortunately, six days into MT’s life, the third chick, Jasper flew in carrying a stick and inadvertently lifted MT up by the neck and carried him to the edge of the nest. MT fell from the tower and did not survive the 100’ fall.

As May progressed so did the two chicks with the eldest, MKD, showing a bit of aggression towards TE and on occasion its mother Bea. Not a good idea to bite the beak that feeds you. By late May, MKD and TE became very mobile and moved about the platform with ease. With their increased mobility and size it was inevitable that one of them would hit our camera while relieving itself and our view of the osprey family was blurred for most of June which was unfortunate because we missed their development from small chicks to juveniles.

By late June rain finally came to the island and cleared the camera lens in time for us to see the majestic juveniles in their buff feathers and exercising their wings in anticipation of fledging. By the first full week of July the two juveniles had successfully fledged. Currently, Bea and Jasper are maintaining residency of the platform before possibly migrating southward. We do have a few ospreys that stay over the winter so we’ll have to see what this pair will do.

We would like to thank all of our viewer’s and bloggers for their support and comments. The cam will continue to be online throughout the remainder of the year unless we have maintenance to perform. As osprey migration begins in about a month for our northern states and Canada we may see ospreys stopping off for a rest along the East Coast so keep watching for any interesting birds that might visit the tower. This will be the last post for the 2011 season, but we will continue to post comments.

Please join us next season and have a great 2011.

11 July 2011

I'm back from my two week vacation and it appears the juveniles have fledged while I was away.

The juveniles fledged in 8 weeks and are most likely hunting on their own at this point. Since osprey migrate individually, the juveniles must be completely independent of their parents for food by the time southward migration begins. We may continue to see the "family" osprey during July, but they could begin migration to Central or South America in late summer. With Hilton Head's southern location we do have osprey that reside here throughout the winter and do not migrate.

Juveniles become sexually mature around 3 years of age, but may not begin breeding until 5 if nest sites are scarce. Determining a juveniles sex by its coloring is not always exact. In the past juveniles have been banded with information indicating male or female, then as the osprey matured the banding proved to be inaccurate because it could take about to 18 months to reach adult plummage.

06 July 2011

It appears our juveniles have successfully taken flight. It may take juveniles a few weeks before they start catching their own fish. If they are unsuccessful the parents will assist them if they are unable to make a catch.

Full adult plumage is achieved at 18 months. Juvenile osprey strongly resemble the adults, except that the brown feathers of the upper body are tipped buff-white, and the streaking on the breast and crown tends to be heavier. The eye color changes from brown to yellow as juveniles mature.

21 June 2011

One of the juveniles is feeding itself as seen in the photo, top right. The other juvenile may be feeding itself as well because it was attempting to steal the fish away. Nice to see the two progressing.

19 June 2011

The heavy rains that have passed through our area for the last few days has finally cleared the lens housing quite nicely and we all can see the osprey on the tower once again. They just need to keep their aim to the North and South of the camera.

Both chicks, or should we say juveniles now, seem to be healthy and have been exercising their wings. The parents continue to maintain the nest and feed their young.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there watching our nest!!

17 June 2011

Bea feeding TE, top of the picture, and MKD, towards the bottom.

15 June 2011

Our two chicks, MKD and TE, are now 6 weeks old and have grown significantly. Unfortunately for all of us their aim upon relieving themselves has been directed at our camera preventing us from watching them transform from gawky chicks to full feathered juveniles. They both have been flapping their wings in order to strengthen their muscles in anticipation of fledging, which is usually in 7 - 9 weeks of age and they will continue to roost on the nest for about another month. With the tower being 100’ high the first flight is always a tense moment.

Bea is still feeding MKD and TE, though they will soon begin feeding themselves. Juveniles will sometimes fly along the male begging for food while he hunts. Juvenile ospreys usually catch their first fish 2 – 8 weeks after fledging.

In 2009, the osprey parents would sit on the communications equipment and squawk at the young possibly enticing their young to take flight. We’ll have to see what approach Bea and Jasper take with their two. Hopefully by then, if not sooner, we’ll have rain to clear the camera housing lens.

On a side note…I’ll be taking a vacation beginning next week, but will be checking the blog to post your comments as I get an opportunity. Also, we would like to thank everyone for their patience with the lens being blurred.

07 June 2011

Updated news from other nests...

Friends at Blackwater log reports that they have three chicks that appear to be doing fine despite the intense heat and humidty.

The Dunedin nest is having trouble with it's fledgling ospreys.

The Loch of the Lowes reports that their pair is having to contend with interference from other birds and the incubation of their eggs has become intermittent.

The Hailuoto - Marjaniemi nest reports that their first and second egg hatched yesterday, June 6.

At the Loch Garten nest their two chicks are growing fast as well as experiencing a heat wave the past day.

03 June 2011

Hilton Head had a little bit of rain on the south end of the island during the night. From what we can tell the nest appears dry so we're not sure if mid island received any rain. The camera is still blurred and the high humidity is not helping. We are expecting possible showers this eveing so hopefully the lens will clear from its present state.

29 May 2011

It appears that one of the birds hit our camera when it was relieving itself so a good portion of the view is blurred. We are going to have to wait for rain to clear the outdoor housing of the camera.

27 May 2011

It's confirmed...Friends at Blackwater Refuge have their first chick! They're expecting their 2nd chick in the next few days.

26 May 2011

Both MKD and TE are growing like weeds and parents Bea and Jasper continue to build up the nest since the two little ones are quite mobile and moving about the platform. MKD has a pronounced white spot on its chest more so than TE and is also a lighter beige than TE.

News from other sites...

  • Friends of the Blackwater Refuge are expecting chicks any time now.

  • Loch of the Lowes is on 24 hour watch in anticipation of their eggs hatching. Their male osprey is having trouble with crows and chasing them away from the nest.

  • The Dunedin nest in Florida recently banded their three chicks.

  • The Hailuoto-Marjaniemi nest, which is nestled in the artic forest in Finland, has four eggs.

23 May 2011

The Photo Gallery has been updated with 41 new images.

19 May 2011

The two photos are from May 6 and today, May 19th. It's amazing how fast the chicks have grown in such a short amount of time. We are now seeing the emergence of pin feathers replacing the down the chicks had when they hatched. Pin feathers, also known as blood feathers, are rolled and protected inside a tubular sheath that contain blood vessels that nourish the feather's growth. More so on MKD than TE at this time are the signs of the rusty-golden pin feathers around the head and neck. When the feathers have developed and break the the sheath, the protective tube will fall away or the chick may remove them while preening. Dark body feathers will emerge followed by the primary and secondary feathers, and finally the outer wing and tail feathers will appear at about 20 - 25 days.

At about one month old the chicks growth will slow and they will be around 70% - 80% of their full-grown body weight and their feathers will have a tan tip, indicating a juvenile osprey.

17 May 2011

With the two chicks maturing at a fast clip, you can see the differences in MKD's crop compared to TE's. The crop stores food for later digestion.

MKD has definitely established dominance over its sibling by pecking at TE and nudging him/her out of the way at feeding time. This mornig MKD was even pecking at Bea while she was attempting to feed him/her...probably not a good idea.

13 May 2011

Sad news....We lost MT.

A little before 11:00 Jasper was bringing in more sticks and inadvertently lifted MT up by the neck with a stick and carried MT to the edge of the nest. MT fell from the tower and did not survive the fall.

11 May 2011

As the chicks develop you may notice a swelling at the base of the esophagus. This area is known as a crop and is a storage area where food can be held for later digestion. In the attached 2009 photo of one of our chicks, you can see the crop protruding from the neck. The crop enables a chick to eat as much as possible as other chicks might take its food. Also, the crop allows a chick to go longer between meals if necessary.

The 2009 photo shows a chick that is 2-1/2 weeks old. Soon our trio will look like this in about 10 days.

09 May 2011

We now have our three chicks: MKD, TE, and MT. The parents, Bea and Jasper, are doing a fine job caring for their chicks. Jasper has been bringing in plenty of fish and Bea has been sheltering the three from the heat and indiscriminately feeding the trio. With MKD being the oldest and strongest, it is usually up front at feeding time.

When the chicks hatched from their shells you may have noticed a white notch at the top of their beak. This is an egg tooth that enables the chick to chip away at the shell poking holes in it allowing it to break through the shell. (See photo). The egg tooth will fall off in a couple of weeks after hatching. Upon hatching the chicks will have a buff down with a white stripe down their back which helps camouflage the chicks making them appear as one of the many sticks in the nest.

At two weeks the chicks begin to develop a dense wooly down and will lose the buff down. The chicks will appear black and prickly, somewhat “reptilian” in appearance. This “reptilian” stage will last about a week to two weeks.