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.