Mr. Fix It

Good evening from the chilly Eastern Shore of Maryland! Thank you all for contributing to the Chesapeake Conservancy during the Great Give. The Crazy Osprey Family is looking forward to hosting our Grand Prize winner with a tour of the secret location after the eggs hatch. Stay tuned for details of this year’s baby osprey naming contest, which will be announced by the Conservancy in the near future.

We are starting to dry out after some incredible wind and rain late last week. With some help from our technical advisor (Osprey Girl), we are hoping to get some video posted in a few days of the Chesapeake Ocean. In the mean time, we are all waiting with breathless anticipation for the arrival of our first hatchling this week. Tom and Audrey continue their same routine. Audrey does most of the incubating, and Tom provides food and break time for Audrey. As you will read about and see later in this blog, Tom has also been busy defending the nest. Our soon-to-be osprey parents have become very proficient during shift change, and Tom doesn’t seem to mind taking over so Audrey can stretch her wings and grab a quick meal outside of the nest.

I am dedicating this blog to my dear husband, Crazy Osprey Man. The story remains to be told of how the Crazy Osprey Family’s Great Adventure started, but suffice it to say for now that Crazy Osprey Man’s moniker did not just fall from the sky. But for today, I want to give you some idea of what goes on behind the scenes before and after our ospreys arrive each spring and just how valuable Mr. Fix It (a.k.a COM) is to this entire osprey operation.

I guess it all really begins at the end: When the last of our juvenile ospreys take off for their winter digs in the fall, the old nest is removed from the pole platform. I know it pains many of you ospreycam watchers to see the tedious, exacting work of Tom and Audrey callously tossed into the bay, but there are reasons for the annual destruction of each season’s nest. One reason is to get rid of any parasites that winter over in the nest. It was so cold here this past winter that any remaining parasites probably would have become parasite popsicles, but be that as it may, the nest, complete with unwanted guests, was long gone before the really cold weather clobbered us. Another reason to remove the nest at the end of each season is so the nest doesn’t get so big and heavy from continued add-ons that it becomes too precarious for the size of the pole. While Tom and Audrey are here in residence on the Chesapeake Bay, we certainly would not want to see their home topple over during one of our ferocious Eastern Shore storms. So each fall, COM gets out his trusty fourteen foot stepladder and removes the empty nest by pushing it off the platform into the bay. This past fall, COM got lucky and his son climbed the pole and did the dirty work for him. For those of you who were watching, it really was dirty work because said son did not wear gloves while removing the nest and wiping off the platform with his bare hands. Yuck! I was a clinical microbiologist in a former life, and I shuddered while watching the bare hands doing their thing.

After the nest is removed, COM gets a little reprieve from osprey-related chores until late winter. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t busily scheming about how to make things better. This new osprey season was especially busy as the ice in the bay this winter bent our pole to the point that it needed to be replaced. As long as a new pole was going up, a new platform was built to take the place of the old platform, which was at the end of its life span. Some photographs of this undertaking were already posted in earlier blogs this season, but here are a few to remind you of all the hard work accomplished by COM and friends over the past few months. Remember, you can click on each photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure:

Our winter tundra swans on the offending ice.  The pole is bending away from the camera, so you can't see the tilt.  COM feeds the tundra swans from November until they leave in March.

Our winter tundra swans on the offending ice. The pole is bending away from the camera, so you can’t see the tilt. COM feeds the tundra swans from November until they leave in March.

Our friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage jetting in the new pole.  Their compressor fell out of the kayak into the 33 degree water, and delayed installation for a day.  They were not happy.

Our friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage jetting in the new pole. Their compressor fell out of the kayak into the 33 degree water, and delayed installation for a day. They were not happy.

COM and friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage building  the new platform to the same specifications as the old platform-the temperature was in the teens

COM and friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage building the new platform to the same specifications as the old platform-the temperature was in the teens

The new platform being installed by COM (on his ladder) and Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage.  It was really cold outside and in the water

The new platform being installed by COM (on his ladder) and Phil from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage. It was really cold outside and in the water

Okay, so now we have a new pole and platform. The camera has to come out from its winter storage and go back to the top of the pole. First, it has to be tested to make sure it is functioning properly. That’s where our partners Earth Security and Skyline Technologies come into play. They were down on the dock freezing while waiting for COM to bring the camera down.

COM on his way to the dock with the camera and new high tech protective camera gear.  What's that white stuff on our lawn and dock?

COM on his way to the dock with the camera and new high tech protective camera gear. What’s that white stuff on our lawn and dock?

Wading out to the pole with the camera.  Brrr!

Wading out to the pole with the camera. Brrr!

Mrs. COM baked a lot of fresh, hot muffins this winter for all of our friends who helped get the ospreycam ready for action. But COM was the leader of the Mr. Fix It brigade:

We have been having a hard time with the pole rotating around with the windage on the camera.  In this photo, the pole has rotated around almost 180 degrees.  COM braves the elements to fix it.

We have been having a hard time with the pole rotating around with the windage on the camera. In this photo, the pole has rotated around almost 180 degrees. COM braves the elements to fix it.

Now COM has to wade back to shore-the air and water were frigid

Now COM has to wade back to shore-the air and water were frigid

The pole is still continuing to give us problems with rotation. The old pole had been in place for many years, and was well worked into the bottom. During a very strong northwest wind a few weeks ago, the pole once again ended up oriented in the wrong direction. COM did his thing, and hiked out to the pole. On this occasion, the winds and low tide combined to blow water out of the bay, exposing the bottom. COM didn’t need his waders to go out to the pole and put it back in place, only a pair of boots. What he did need was to duck Audrey, who was not happy with his presence at the pole. She was dive bombing COM for much of the time he was working on the pole, and I was certain she would take a chunk out of his head:

COM on the way to fix the pole.  No waders needed this time!

COM on the way to fix the pole. No waders needed this time!

On the way out to the pole.  Audrey was starting to get irritated.

On the way out to the pole. Audrey was starting to get irritated.

Rotating the pole back into place.

Rotating the pole back into place.

Duck, COM!  Here comes Audrey to take off your head for messing with her pole!

Duck, COM! Here comes Audrey to take off your head for messing with her pole!

COM heading back to safety.  He doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry.

COM heading back to safety. He doesn’t seem to be in much of a hurry.

Back up the ladder.  Another mission accomplished by Mr. Fix It

Back up the ladder. Another mission accomplished by Mr. Fix It

When we are home and able to keep an eye on what’s happening outside here at the secret location, there is frequently something new and exciting to see. A few days ago while I was at work, COM was looking out the window when he saw a goose family swimming by, complete with Mama Goose, Daddy Goose and seven goslings:

The Goose Family happily swimming by.  They did not realize that danger was lurking near by

The Goose Family happily swimming by. They did not realize that danger was lurking near by

Tom noticed the goose family, and thought they were too close to Audrey and the incubating eggs. He came to the perceived needed rescue:

Tom in hot pursuit of the intruders

Tom in hot pursuit of the intruders

A bird battle ensued. COM told me it was pretty exciting:

The battle begins

The battle begins

Battle scenes:

Battle scenes

Battle scenes

The battle

The battle

Daddy Goose defending his babies from Tom

Daddy Goose defending his babies from Tom

The fierce fight

The fierce fight

Great photographs, COM! We are all glad you were home and looking out the window at the right time. There is good, and there is lucky, but there was a combination of good and lucky to be able to capture these birds in action, each trying to protect their own family.

We will leave you with a more peaceful image of Tom in our backyard checking out some sticks:

A peaceful moment in the backyard

A peaceful moment in the backyard

So good bye for a few days. When next we meet, hopefully Tom and Audrey will be new parents!

Until next time, we remain

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl

If you are enjoying the osprey camera and blog, please consider a donation to the Chesapeake Conservancy so they are able to continue supporting programs such as this one. Go to http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org today. Thank you!

33 thoughts on “Mr. Fix It

  1. Thank you for all you do for Tom and Audrey, and the enjoyment we all get from the Osprey Cam!

  2. Great blog!! COM has certainly been busy and we appreciate all that he and your family does so that we can be a part of Tom and Audrey’s summer in Maryland!! The pictures of the fathers protecting their families are really amazing. Thank you!!

  3. Really love your osprey-cam. Thanks you for all the hard work you and Mr. Com (and all the people who maintain the live cam) put into this project so that we can enjoy and appreciate the life’s special moments. Just the other day, I saw Tom bring back a good size fish to the nest (although he didn’t want to share the prize so he flew away with it. Bad Tom!). Anyway, that was a very special moment to savor. Thank you all. Am looking forward to the hatching of the eggs. Happy Spring!!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words. It has been a labor of love since 1995 when our first pole went up and 2002 when COM installed our first camera. Being able to share our osprey experience with everyone has been very rewarding. We are so glad you are enjoying the camera and blogs! Mrs. COM

  4. What is Audrey doing right now? She’s picking apart something and I can’t tell what it is. I am hoping more experienced eyes can reassure me that it’s just grass and stuff. Thanks!

    • There is a piece of some kind of black plastic in the nest. Ospreys are known for bringing back all kinds of “stuff” to the nest. We have had all kinds of plastic in the nest over the years, and so far (knock on wood) no problems. It will either get buried in the nest or blow out. If any kind of problem looks imminent, we can re-evaluate the situation. We are not worried about it, so rest easy for now! Thanks for enjoying the camera and blogs. Mrs. COM

  5. It’s funny how magical the orange tape is…now you see it, now you don’t! Guess there are not any more sticks that have been marked? Or just not picking them up?

  6. Today, I think I saw a dead bird in the nest, then Tom came down and picked it up and carried it away. Any idea how it got there? Or what kind of bird it was?
    Thanks again for all you are doing?

    • Check out the next blog. We witnessed most of the incident, and will be commenting on it soon. Thanks for watching our camera and reading the blogs. Mrs. COM

  7. One egg has hatched and I saw the chick moving around. Very neat. But what happens to the chick when the mom/dad sits down on the other two eggs? Does the chick stay under them as well? I guess it makes sense to have the chick under for protection. Also, do the parents hunt throughout the night or do they stay in the nest together until morning? Obviously we can’t see what’s really going on since it’s dark. Looking forward to your answers. Thanks for the great osprey cam!

    • Tom does not usually stay in the nest overnight, he has a couple of favorite places near the nest. One is a nearby tree, and a neighbor’s dock. I do not think he hunts at night, but as you said, it is dark! All of the hatched chicks and unhatched eggs will stay under Audrey for protection while they are so little.

  8. Just saw second baby coming out of it’s shell. Welcome! This is so awesome to watch. Thank you for this opportunity.

  9. Will Audrey be able to take the stress of all these storm? She is so wet–will she and the chicks be able to keep warm?

    • All of our osprey families over the 19 years we have had our pole have been fine in the severe weather. They do look rather miserable on the camera, and we do worry about them, but knock on wood, they have always been fine.

  10. Saw some nasty behavior on the part of the older chick this morning. It appeared to be attacking the younger chick, who curled up in a ball to avoid having his head pecked repeatedly. Is this some kind of survival behavior?

    • Unsavory as it is, this is typical osprey behavior. We witnessed it last year, and it is not pleasant to watch. But all three chicks fledged last year, even with the aggressive behavior on the part of the oldest chick.

  11. What is going on? They have not been feeding the babies. I don’t know if they are waiting for the last egg to hatch or what!!.Would someone be able to do something? These babies will not make it much longer if they do not get fed.
    V.ery concerned.

    • There will not be any intervention as far as feeding. Nature will take its course. Tom has always been a good provider, so we have no reason to think the chicks will not get fed.

    • Dr. Spitzer says probably not, but don’t give up just yet. There will certainly be a lot less drama with two chicks than with three! Thanks for asking. Mrs. COM

  12. Each day that goes by that the 3rd egg doesn’t hatch my gut grows “colder”… remembering the stress created last year by the 3rd chick being so small, constantly picked, (pecked) on and rarely being fed BUT… as has been said… all three fledged and as the old saying goes… “All’s well that ends well”. 🙂 PS… I am so thankful to everyone that has a part in providing the amazing opportunity to watch these awesome Ospreys. Seriously… I thank you all!

    • Hi, Mr. Carter! I hope you are feeling okay. Dr. Spitzer says it is unlikely that the third egg will hatch, but don’t give up yet. There won’t be as much drama with two chicks than we had with three, and certainly much less worry. Thanks for checking in. Mrs. COM

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