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.


Gina said...

Thank you for the season in review. What a joy to watch GV & RJ grow and fledge. How awesome nature is!! They really are magnificent birds. I live on Cape Cod and see them soaring above quite a bit and now have a new appreciation and understanding of their life. I still think your June 8th photo of GV & RJ is the cutest thing I have ever seen!!

moderator said...

Thank you Gina!!

I hope to get more photos out soon. I got behind putting them online and now I'm playing catch up. Have a great summer!!!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading the "season in review" and want to thank our Moderator for keeping us informed all season with comments and pictures. My place is just across the island (as the crow flies) from this nest, so when I walk the beach during the fall and winter, I'll consider the osprey I see flying above the ocean to be either GV or RJ. Of course, it could also be either Bea or Jasper--who knows!


Gina said...

Good Morning!!

Is this still GV on the platform?
I'm assuming he does take flight every now and then, but everytime I check in there is always one lonesome osprey. Hope all is well with "our" little family.

Thanks again for this awesome opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Please add my thanks to all who man the camera and to the moderator for giving us insight into the minds of osprey! It is always a delight to check in on the nest.

moderator said...


GV is the only osprey that continues to stay on the platform. Jasper, Bea, and RJ are nearby in surrounding trees.

Anonymous said...

On Friday, while biking on Union Cemetery Road, I saw a young osprey fledging from the top of the water tower. It was a very warm morning, and I wondered if the nest could be on top of the tower, which is much higher than any trees in that area and gets no shade at all. Then I thought of this nest and wondered if this tower is also higher than the trees around it. Guess that is why we see the adult osprey shading their young during very warm, sunny days.


moderator said...


Yes, our communications tower is 100' feet tall, higher than the surrounding trees.

Gina said...

I was just looking at all the past years in the osprey gallery photos and WOW!, was I surprised by the 2009 bald eagles checking out the property. How awesome!! That must have been a spectacular sight.
Looking at all the photos of the different osprey you really can see all the distinguishing features on them. They are beautiful!!

Carol said...

I think GV and RJ were both on the nest just now. For sure there were two birds. 11:05 a.m. on Tuesday.

Gina said...

Empty Nest Syndrome!!

moderator said...

Hey Gina,

GV seems to be the only family member occupying the nest at times, chasing off other osprey. It shouldn't be long before they go their separate ways.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Jasper on the nest this Sunday morning. He looks like he's wondering where everyone went! Maybe he's thinking about his flight south.


Anonymous said...

Hey Vivian,

I believe that the Florida ospreys do not migrate to South America, the way the northern birds do. Perhaps the moderator could chime in on this?

Hope all is well with our Dunedin birds!


moderator said...

Hey Vivian and Peter!

Peter is correct in that ospreys that live in milder climates, such as Florida, the Caribbean and Mexico, tend to stay in the same area year round. On Hilton Head we have a few that can be spotted here and there during the fall and winter, though most do migrate.

As colder weather approaches the fish, their primary food source, may leave areas or go deeper into the water so the osprey migrate south where the fish are closer to the surface - more accessible.

As ospreys migrate from the north, we may see a few stop on our platform for a rest before continuing their journey.