23 July 2012

There is a new adult male on the nest. It appears to be the one GV was chasing off a few weeks ago. The male was moving palm fronds and sticks about the platform. It would be a bit early for a migrating osprey so this male may be attempting to secure this site for future breeding rights.

11 July 2012

As the close of our osprey season is fast approaching, I thought I would go ahead and post the season in review.

Our first osprey appeared on the platform on February 1st. This new male didn't waste any time bringing nesting material and its mate followed about a week later and the two began copulating. The 2011 pair, Bea and Jasper, arrived on February 21st, forcing the new pair to find another home. As with the first couple, Bea and Jasper quickly began repairing the nest and began to mate.

Throughout the remainder of February and up to mid March, Bea and Jasper mated and built up the nest while fighting off the previous couple for rights to the nest. Bea and Jasper improved their nest building from last year, but not by much. The 2012 nest wasn’t a beautifully constructed bowl shaped nest as seen at other sites, but they got the job done well enough and the first egg was laid on March 24th. The second egg was laid on March 26th and the third on March 29th.

During incubation we predominately had cool, wet weather so both parents didn’t have to be concerned with oppressive heat. On occasion an intruder osprey would land on the nest, but both Bea and Jasper dispatched the trespasser and they went back to incubating the eggs.

On May 2nd the first chick, GV, broke free of its shell after 39 days. About 15 hours later GV was joined by its sibling, RJ, who was in its egg for 38 days. The third chick never hatched. On May 8th we noticed the egg shell was broken and we could see a formed chick inside. The chick may not have had the strength to break free of the shell or any other possibility, we’ll never know.

As the weeks passed GV and RJ sprouted like weeds and at times fought mercilessly. Since our osprey web cam went live in 2007, we have never seen such fierce sibling rivalry. Frequently, GV was relentless in its attacks against RJ. This domination ensured GV would be the first to eat and eat as much as it wanted.

Towards the end of their two months on the nest GV and RJ grew into beautiful juveniles and began exercising their wings and began hopping about the nest. In early July we had a line of strong thunderstorms pound the Lowcountry with high winds, rain and a lot of lighting. The family toughed it out and the following day GV fledged with RJ looking on in apparent disbelief. About one week later, RJ was joining GV flying over our office.

Once RJ took flight he/she didn’t waste any time getting away from GV…you couldn’t blame RJ since all the abuse the little one took earlier. RJ currently hangs out close by with GV still on the platform and Bea and Jasper nearby.
Both juveniles still rely on Bea and Jasper for food, though this will only last until they learn to fish for themselves.

We want to say a big “Thank You” to all of our viewers and bloggers in making this another successful season. It’s great to have our locals and friends from far away participate and enjoy the ospreys at our Hilton Head office. There’s still plenty to see, so stay tuned.

As always, keep your blogs coming and the camera will continue to stay active.

09 July 2012

It appears RJ finally fledged sometime on Sunday. He/she was on the nest Sunday morning, but as of Sunday afternoon RJ was not there. GV is the only osprey on the nest as of 7:03 a.m. this morning.  RJ is probably happily eating all the fish it can without having to compete against GV.

03 July 2012

GV successfully fledged today at 9:26 a.m. and circled the tower multiple times then landed back on the nest much to the amazement of RJ. RJ spun around watching GV soar overhead our Hilton Head office. RJ has not been as proactive as GV with wing flapping and hopping about the platform. GV's next test will be learning to fish. RJ better step it up!

02 July 2012

Strong winds and heavy rain pounded the Lowcountry last night leaving many without power due to uprooted trees taking down power lines. Upon arriving at work today we were delighted to see GV and RJ sitting on the nest which didn’t sustain damage. We did notice GV fly from one side of the platform to the other this morning so these two might make up their minds to fledging soon.

26 June 2012

GV and RJ still have not fledged though both have been seen vigorously flapping their wings and hopping about the nest getting airborne at times. Jasper and Bea could withhold food from the two to encourage them to fledge.

18 June 2012

GV and RJ are now about the same size of their parents, Bea and Jasper. Both juveniles have yet to fledge, but it could be soon as they enter their 7th week since hatching. The camera housing is somewhat blurry due to it being hit by one of the ospreys relieving itself and it doesn't appear that we are due any rain in the coming week. Last year the same thing happened and obstructed our view for several weeks.

GV and RJ at times are still fed by Bea, but more often they are eating their own fish which is still brought to them. Bea and Jasper may encourage their offspring to fledge by withholding food so they can begin their fishing skills.

There are many trees and other towers near the nest for RJ and GV to perch on once they take their first flight. Landing may be awkward at first as the juveniles will have to master its balance and grasping objects. Our nest is atop a 100' foot tower so whichever juvenile fledges first will demonstrate a leap of faith and and a whole lot of confidence.

11 June 2012

Looks as if Bea and Jasper got tired of the fighting and gave GV and RJ their own fish. Though we just saw GV go over to RJ and peck him/her a few times even though GV has its own fish and now just stole RJ's fish. RJ just can't catch a break with GV.
This will be the 6th week since the two chicks hatched. GV is still attacking RJ when fish is brought to the platform. GV was seen this mornig pulling feathers out of RJ's back. RJ probably cannot wait until GV fledges or until he/she fledges itself.

08 June 2012

A quick visual difference between GV and RJ is their head coloring. GV is on the left and has more blonde in its feathers than RJ.

Their gender on the other hand is another story. The most reliable sign of gender is the "necklace" - the coloring across an osprey's chest. Females have the brown speckled chest where males are mostly white.

The juvenile's gender is not as easy to determine as they usually have a necklace then lose it as they mature. Body size often assists in determining an osprey's gender, but again in juveniles it is not exact until maturation. So we are not sure if we have males or females. Both GV and RJ have transformed into beautiful juveniles and they should fledge within a few weeks.

06 June 2012

Our osprey family is a bit damp, but hopefully the majority of the wet weather is behind them.

As many of our bloggers have noted both GV and RJ have gotten quite large as you can see from the photo in the May 21st blog. Jasper has been doing a good job bringing in fish throughout the storms  the last few days.

This weeks marks the chicks 5th week since they hatched and they both look healthy. We should start seeing the chicks, or should I say juveniles, begin flapping and stretching their wings more preparing for their first flight. Jasper and Bea will not teach their young to fly, with avians it is instinctive.

29 May 2012

GV and RJ are approaching 4 weeks of age and are progressing nicely. The nest fared well from Beryl during Sunday's high winds, but it appears that we are in for round 2. Tropical Depression Beryl is passing by so fishing may bit a little difficult for Jasper today.  Though, as of this post, Jasper just brought in yet another flounder.

25 May 2012

It looks as though new sticks have been brought to the nest and placed on the perimeter to keep GV and RJ away from the edge.  Blogger Vivian noted about the url to the osprey cam. We changed our domain name from palelec.com to palmetto.coop about 5 - 6 years ago, so please check your url and make sure it is http://www.palmetto.coop/community/osprey/env_osprey.asp

The last two days GV is allowing RJ to eat so there is a bit more harmony on the platform.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend and we also want to commemorate all the men and women, who have died in military service for the United States.

21 May 2012

It appears that GV is intimdating RJ when fish is brought to the nest and is blocking RJ's attempts to eat. Bea feeds GV first and if allowed, RJ will get an opportunity to eat. GV is a bit larger than RJ at this point and RJ needs to make the most of the available fish. Luckily, the fish that Jasper is bringing are large enough to feed all of them. It's not a matter of a lack of fish, it's just the GV is aggressive and showing authority of RJ.

16 May 2012

It's been two weeks since GV was hatched and you can see how much the chicks have grown in comparison to the remains of the third egg.

The chicks are now following Bea about the nest attempting to stay in her shadow. They are walking about the nest, somewhat clumsily at times, and using their wings to support themselves. We should soon see the chick's downy fuzz being replaced with growing feathers.

15 May 2012

Fifteen photos have been added to the photo gallery. I'm trying to catch up and add photos as I get a chance.

Hope you enjoy them. 8-)

09 May 2012

Bea has moved the third egg to the outer edge of the "nest bowl" (see arrow). No idea what happened to the chick and why it was unable to break through its shell.

GV and RJ are sprouting like weeds and as viewer Peter noted, both chicks are pretty equal in size. We'll have to see if GV is dominant over RJ or if they both call it a draw.

Chicks fighting each other can be quite brutal and hard to watch. This is a natural and an adaptive behavior. The aggressive behavior allows the dominant chick to receive its meal before other chicks and ensures a regulating brood size of healthy, strong chicks that can be raised on the available food.

As of this post, GV and RJ decided to duke it out. Each one getting in some hard blows while Bea was off to the side preening herself.  We'll have to see how nice the two siblings remain to each other.

08 May 2012

The third egg has a hole in the shell and appears the chick did not survive.  Even if the chick did hatch we wondered how it would compete for food from its older siblings. The egg will most likely be discarded by Bea as the two chicks get older.

GV and RJ have grown significantly after hatching less than a week. As their appetite grows so will Jasper's job of catching fish for them.

07 May 2012

There is still hope for the third egg to hatch. Today marks the 39th day of incubation. If the chick does hatch, it will have a lot of catching up to do.

04 May 2012

Today marks the 36th day of incubation for the third egg. GV and RJ will have a definite advantage over the third chick if and when it hatches.

Jasper has be provideing fish at regular intervals and the chicks have been stuffing themselves until they fall asleep.

03 May 2012

The second chick hatched this morning before 6:30 a.m. Thursday, May 3rd. The incubation was 38 days. The second chick's name is RJ.

02 May 2012

Our first chick hatched at 2:53 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. Incubation was 39 days. The chick's name is GV.

29 April 2012

Yesterday, Saturday, April 28th, marked the beginning of the 5th week since the first egg was laid. Incubation is anywhere from 5 to 6 weeks so the first chick could hatch any time now.

In the last few weeks, Jasper has been bringing in quite a few large bass. If that trend continues, we shouldn't see the chicks go hungry. If the chicks don't receive enough food,  aggression between the chicks will intensify and can be hard to watch. That is a completely natural, wide-spread and adaptive behavior.  Chicks hatch over a span of many days, and so there can be a large difference in size among the siblings in the same nest.  This is called “hatching asynchrony.” They are covered in down when hatched. 

Bea is constantly up and down over the eggs as of this post so the first egg could possible hatch today. The first chick hatched on the 40th day in 2011 and in 2009 it was the 38th day.

18 April 2012

'Oldest' breeding osprey lays 62nd egg at Loch of the Lowes

Wonderful video of osprey catching fish

13 April 2012

An "intruder" osprey that has been flying about landed on the platform this morning while both Bea and Jasper were at the nest. Both parents quickly dispatched the other osprey with Bea giving chase and Jasper covering the eggs.

For several weeks we've noticed that our pair has been bothered by another osprey in the area. This may or may not be the same bird.

12 April 2012

The nest finally has a nice "bowl" shape. Both Bea and Jasper have been bringing in material which has made the nests appearance much more presentable in the past few days. Today marks the 20th day since the first egg was laid so we are about half way through the incubation period. If our pair continues to improve their nest they should be off to a great start when the chicks hatch. 

Bea and Jasper seem to have a nice rhythm going with incubation. Jasper is bringing in fish and giving Bea a break from sitting on the eggs. Not much time is spent off the clutch of eggs as they must be kept warm. So far Bea and Jasper are doing a great job.

11 April 2012

Not much going on at the nest. Bea and Jasper are taking turns incubating the eggs while both are bringing in a few sticks, grasses, and an occasional pine cone.
The osprey cam viewing time has been increased to 7:00 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.

10 April 2012

More photos have been added to the gallery.

06 April 2012

With the cooler wet weather Bea and Jasper will have to make sure that their eggs are kept warm. Both parents have a brood patch, an area of bare skin under their breast feathers. Males have a smaller ‘hot-spot' than the females; however, the female ospreys have a larger area with many vessels that can be suffused with blood whenever the egg temperature falls. This instinctive ability allows the ospreys to sense temperature changes within the eggs and to control it within the nest through their own body methods. The eggs must be kept at a temperature of around 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

04 April 2012

We just added 15 photos to the 2012 gallery. More to come soon. 8-)

02 April 2012

The incubation process began on March 24th when the first egg was laid. The second egg was laid March 26th and the third, March 29th. Bea will take on most of the responsibility of incubation, seldom leaving her eggs except to feed. Jasper will then take over incubation until Bea returns. Incubation takes anywhere from five to six weeks.

Jasper with eggs, April 2, 2012

When it's time for the osprey chicks to hatch, the first chick has a definite advantage over its siblings which hatch a day or two later.  The first chick grows quickly and most likely will dominate the nest.  If the food supply is low, the dominant first chick can seize the available food supply to the danger of the smaller siblings. This insures that at least one of the year’s brood might survive. Some of the sibling rivalry can be a bit intense as they all try to receive food from their parent.

29 March 2012

Our viewer Peter spotted Bea and Jasper's third egg.

26 March 2012

It appears Bea laid the second egg about 5:30 Monday evening.

24 March 2012

Bea laid the first egg of the 2012 season either the evening of March 23rd or Saturday morning the 24th. Bea should lay eggs one to three days apart.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–4 eggs
Number of Broods
1 broods
Egg Length
2.2–2.7 in
5.5–6.8 cm
Egg Width
1.7–2 in
4.2–5 cm
Incubation Period
36–42 days
Nestling Period
50–55 days
Egg Description
Cream to pinkish cinnamon; wreathed and spotted with reddish brown.
We have our first egg. Unfortunately the web service is acting up. We'll try and get it corrected as soon as possible.

19 March 2012

Hopefully soon we'll see Bea sitting on some eggs. Last year the eggs were laid March, 25th, 28th, and 31st. The pair continues adding material to the platform, increasing the size of the nest, which does not have a definitive "bowl" shape as of yet.

Bea and Jasper first appeared on the nest February 20th and began mating the next day. Incubation is usually five to six weeks and if the eggs are fertile, will hatch in the order that they are laid. Next week will begin the 5th week since the pair first began mating and we could possible see eggs then. The typical clutch size is three eggs, but a cluth can range from one to four eggs. Since our osprey cam went live we have never had more than three eggs laid. Osprey eggs are about the size of large hen eggs and are a mottled brown, cinnamon color.

13 March 2012

Since not much is going on with our pair, Bea and Jasper, we thought we would check out other osprey sites:

Over at the Dunedin Nest they have three eggs as of February 23rd and
Blackwater Refuge is expecting their osprey's to return around March 17th.

Hopefully Bea will soon lay eggs and our pair can start raising another brood.

12 March 2012

It's still a waiting game with Bea and Jasper as far as eggs are concerned. They continue to mate and bring nesting material to the platform. Still hoping to see them build up their nest, but they seem pretty content with the way it is. Some viewer's saw what they thought was a small hawk on the nest over the weekend. Not sure what it was, but they'll need to keep it away once Bea lays eggs.

05 March 2012

Bea and Jasper continue to control the nest as the first pair are still making attempts to retake control. From what we've seen Bea and Jasper are the more dominant pair.

The nesting skills haven't improved much since last year, but I guess in time they'll learn.  Bea is spending most of her time on the nest and at times with her head down. Last year the first egg was laid March 25th so we are on schedule as far as last year's timeframe.

29 February 2012

Not much going on with Bea and Jasper at the moment. They are bringing in a few items to the nest, but neither is doing much to gather the nesting material together to create a bowl shape for potential eggs. Guess housekeeping is not one of their strong suits.

23 February 2012

Bea and Jasper continue to struggle with the curved stick on the nest. They've stripped all of the small twigs from the stick, but haven't quite figured out how to position it on the nest so it doesn't interfere with them.

The first pair that was on the tower is still attempting to recover the nest, but Bea is chasing them off. Jasper and Bea need to start tiding up the nest.

21 February 2012

Bea and Jasper, our pair from last year, have returned forcing out the first pair on the nest. Both Bea and Jasper benefited from the first couple's work of gathering moss, pine cones, and sticks. Jasper has already added to the nest while both are breaking twigs and straightening up the nest for the upcoming season.

Bea and Jasper have mated at least five times today. Maybe this year their nest building will be better than last year's. They off to a good start and hopefully they'll continue to build up the nest.

We hope to get the gallery up and going later this week with a few pictures from the 2012 season. 8-)
Yesterday, we noticed that the new pair of ospreys fighting for control of the nest against another pair. As of this morning we have the second pair on the nest. The newest pair could be our couple from last year, Bea and Jasper, as some of their markings are similar. As we obtain new photos we will compare the latest photos against last year's pair to see if we indeed have a match.

14 February 2012

The new pair on the tower has begun to mate as of today - that we have noticed.

Courtship in ospreys centers on food and nest sites. In migratory osprey populations, males and females arrive at the nest site separately, the male often arriving several days earlier than the female. Male ospreys sometimes perform a conspicuous aerial display near the nest site. This display usually occurs during early courtship, and may serve to attract potential mates or to threaten an intruder. Both sexes collect materials for the nest, but the female does most of the arranging of materials at the nest. Osprey nests are typically constructed of sticks, and lined with softer materials such as seaweed, kelp, grasses or cardboard.

Once a pair has established a nest, the male begins to deliver food to the female. Generally, females that receive more food are more receptive to mating attempts by the male, and are less likely to copulate with other males. Females beg for food from their mates, and occasionally from neighboring males if they are not well fed by their mate.

The breeding season of ospreys differs between populations. Non-migratory populations breed in the winter and spring, laying eggs between December and March. The breeding season of migratory populations occurs in the spring and summer, with egg laying in April and May.

08 February 2012

The male osprey that has been frequenting our nest the past several days appears to be new to the platform. We don't have any photos from 2008 - 2011 of a male osprey with the same head markings as this male.

A few new materials such as pine cones and twigs are appearing on the nest so the new male is attempting to take ownership of the platform for the 2012 season. The new male will have to defend the nest if last year's couple returns.

01 February 2012

We have our first osprey of 2012 on the nest at 2 p.m.

2012 Osprey Season

We want to welcome all of our cam watchers to a new osprey season at Palmetto Electric. This year marks our sixth web cam season from Hilton Head Island, SC and the fifth season for the osprey blog where our viewers can post comments about our nest and other osprey sites around the world.

Our nest is located on Mathews Drive and sits upon a 100 foot communications tower. The tower is situated within a quarter mile or so of our local airport. A beacon light to the right of the cam glows intermittently at night; therefore, we do not broadcast night images due to the glare of the beacon. The ospreys don’t seem affected by the beacon’s illumination since they’ve been nesting on the platform since the mid 1980's. Before the platform was installed the osprey built nests on the cross arms of the tower which often came apart and fell to the ground.

In the past viewers have asked why we don’t band the osprey. 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 there isn’t anyone in the area that is certified to climb our communications tower and also knowledgeable of osprey to band them.

Last year we had a new adult pair, named Bea and Jasper, at the nest with their two chicks, MKD and TE, successfully fledging. Over the last few years we have had new pairs take control of the platform so we’ll have to see if Bea and Jasper return or if a new couple settle on the tower.

If you’re new to ospreys, check out our Osprey FAQ page as well as our Osprey Photo Gallery for pictures from past seasons.

Thanks for joining us and we hope to see another successful osprey season!