Good evening from the lovely Eastern Shore of Maryland. It is a beautiful evening, clear and cool. As I am sure all of you have observed on the ospreycam, two of our eggs have hatched, and the third one is getting way overdue. Just as a recap, the first egg was laid on April 15 at 7:11 a.m., the second egg was laid on April 18 at 7:00 a.m. and the third egg was laid on April 21 at 8:08 a.m. Egg Number 1 hatched on May 24 at 5:31 a.m. and Egg Number 2 hatched on May 27 at approximately 9:00 a.m. There is video footage of both hatchings on the Conservancy’s Facebook page. I know you can all do the math, but so you don’t have to put on your thinking caps, the first two eggs each took thirty nine days to hatch. It is now Day Forty Two since Egg Number 3 was laid, and things aren’t looking so good for a third chick. According to Dr. Spitzer, our resident osprey biologist and good friend, it is not likely at this point that the third egg will hatch. But in his own words, Dr. Spitzer said “But give it a bit longer”. After all of the drama last year with Ozzie, I am not sure we want a third chick at this late date. It would be so much smaller and weaker than the other two chicks that it might have a hard time thriving. But as we saw time after time last year, Mother Nature has her own plans, and we will see what we will see!
COM pulled out his handy dandy osprey notebook for me, and here were our statistics for last year’s eggs: Eggs were laid on 4/17/2013, 4/19/2013, 4/23/2013 and a surprise egg on 4/25/2013 (the first time since we have had our camera that we observed four eggs). The first three hatched on 5/26, 5/29 and 6/2, respectively. Hatch times were thirty nine days for Egg Number 1, forty days for Egg Number 2 and forty days for Egg Number 3. Although we all anxiously watched and waited, Egg Number 4 never hatched, eventually broke in the nest and disappeared. I don’t know about all of you, but I will be both disappointed and relieved at the same time if Egg Number 3 doesn’t hatch.
You all know by now that our blogs are intended to supplement what you are seeing in the nest. We have been watching our camera since 2002, and much of what can be seen is sometimes rather repetitive, but at the same time, exhilarating. On May 23, COM and I witnessed something we had never seen in the past twelve years of camera watching. There were a couple of comments on the Conservancy’s Facebook page about this incident. For those of you who didn’t have the good fortune to be watching, a rather large, dark and fuzzy looking creature, quite dead, made its way into the nest. We didn’t see who brought the offending detritus into the osprey’s sanctuary, but I am guessing it was that jokester Tom. As I was watching the ospreycam, it appeared to me to be a large piece of some sort of deceased mammal, as I thought I could see the ruffling of fur in the breeze. I kept my eye on the computer while I was conducting my domestic chores. Tom returned to the nest, and as I was watching, he grabbed the unknown organic matter with his talons and beak, and dragged it to the edge of the nest. When he got it almost to the point where it was ready to fall into the drink, he took a good hold of it and flew off to the electric box on the end of our dock. This is one of Tom’s favorite places to enjoy a good meal and I bet he was looking forward to filling his belly with a delectable treat. I put our super duper 30 power, tripod mounted Swarovski binoculars on the unknown mass, and lo and behold, it was some sort of bird (the feathers were a clue), not a mammal. Tom sat there a moment, tore a bloody piece out of the bird and attempted to eat it. Can you say cannibal? But when he got a good bite and tried to swallow, he shook his head and smacked his beak several times. The piece of Uncle Bird fell out of his mouth, and fell into the water. Not to be deterred, Tom tried again. Same results. A few shakes of the head, a few smacks of the beak, and the disposal of the Uncle Bird nugget. Tom looked like a little kid who had taken a bite out of something he didn’t like and spit it out! I had to laugh out loud, it was really, really funny to watch him. I don’t think he could figure out what the heck he was trying to eat, but he sure knew he didn’t like it! After a few tries, he took off from the electrical box with his former treasure, flew over the dock, dropped the unsavory dead bird right on it and kept going until he reached his favorite tree. I’m not sure how ospreys get a bad taste out of their mouths, but if there was a way to do it, I am sure Tom was trying to figure it out. I sent COM down to the dock to remove the unwanted meal, and into the drink it went. The crabs should have enjoyed the tasty morsel if Tom didn’t.
Dr. Spitzer has a scientific request for all of you camera watchers out there. He would like to keep track of the number and type of fish that Tom is catching and bringing back to the nest. Most of the fish that are being caught are menhaden. If anyone sees a fish (or part of a fish, as is usually the case) being brought back, please keep track of the time. Identifying the type and number of fish being caught would be of great interest to Dr. Spitzer, so please post your observations on the Conservancy’s Facebook page, and we will get the data to Dr. Spitzer.
The Chesapeake Conservancy will be having an osprey naming contest, but are waiting to determine the final number of chicks to be named. Check on their Facebook page for further details.
I will leave you with one of my favorite photographs from last year. This was taken after one of our famous Full Moon Dock Parties. If you would like to read the whole story, please go back to my blog dated June 25, 2013-A Very Special Evening With Our Very Special Osprey Family. You can click on the photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
Oh, but one more. A surprise photo. Guess who?
I will be posting a different photo of this lovely couple in each of the next few blogs. First person to correctly guess the identity of our mystery couple will get a good prize, I just don’t know what it is yet!
Until next time, we remain
Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man and Osprey Girl
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