Calico Tom-Protector and Defender

Good evening from the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland!   Thanks to all of you who were able to join us at the Welcome Back Osprey gathering in Annapolis, Maryland.  We were so happy to meet many of you who were in attendance, and really enjoyed Dr. Bierregaard’s informative presentation. Before we get into what has been going on in and around the nest, the Crazy Osprey Family is proud to announce that Osprey Girl is officially a Fightin’ Blue Hen at the University of Delaware.  It was a difficult decision for her, as she also loved Drexel University, but I guess we are keeping the bird karma going here at the Crazy Osprey Family homestead!  Congratulations, Osprey Girl and go Blue Hens!

I am quite positive that it has not gone unnoticed to all of our faithful readers and camera watchers that there are three beautiful eggs in our nest.  The eggs were laid on April 12, 15 and 21.  Last year, our three eggs were laid on April 15, 18 and 21.  Only two of the three hatched last year, both after thirty nine days on May 24 and 27.  In 2013, our first year with the Conservancy, Audrey laid four eggs on April 17, 19, 23 and 25.  This was the only time we had four eggs laid.  Three of the four eggs hatched on May 26, 29 and June 2, the first after thirty nine days and the second and third after forty days.  So if I am doing the math correctly, the first egg should be hatching around May 21, give or take a day.  Take a deep breath and put on your waiting caps, we still have a ways to go!

Tom and Audrey

Tom and Audrey “sharing” a fish on our neighbor’s dock

Meanwhile, we have been enjoying the day to day activities at the nest.  Crazy Osprey Man (COM for all of you newbies out there) was concerned about the tilt in the new pole.  You may remember that last year, we had an awful time with our new pole spinning around in the wind before it worked itself into the bay bottom.  COM made a few trips out to last year’s new pole in some very cold and nasty weather to rotate it back in place.  This year, the pole didn’t appear to be spinning, but tilting.  Our very own Mr. Fixit aka COM, improvised an anti-tilt device and installed it at the bottom of the pole.  It seems to have done the trick.  COM’s trips out to the pole did not go unnoticed by some of our astute camera watchers, as he could be seen on the ospreycam for brief moments making his way through the water under the pole.  Thanks once again for your skilled and inventive workmanship, Crazy Osprey Man!

Crazy Osprey Man straightening up the pole with a more permanent solution of his making

Crazy Osprey Man straightening up the pole with a more permanent solution of his making

This evening as I was preparing dinner, Tom was sitting on the nest, and Audrey was hanging out on the scraggly tree in our neighbor’s yard to the north of us.  Maybe it is my imagination, but I think Calico Tom sits on the nest more frequently than our old Tom.  Or maybe it is just easier to tell it is Tom due to his wild and crazy feathers.  Anyway, Tom took off to the north and within five seconds, Audrey hightailed it back to the nest to resume her motherly incubation duties.  She knew he was gone, and didn’t waste any time getting back to the eggs.  It is truly amazing to watch nature in action!

Audrey taking a break from the nest

Audrey taking a break from the nest

There have been many comments regarding Audrey’s vocalizations while sitting on the nest.  Many of these calls are heard when Tom is out fishing.  If I hear Audrey squawking especially loudly, I will look up, and I can usually see Tom out fishing close to the nest (way up high), or in the area with a fish he has just caught and is not sharing.  It will soon be time to mute the sound on our computer, as when the windows are open in our house, we are treated to stereo squawking due to the seven second time delay between the real time squawking and when the camera image and sound are seen and heard over the internet.  The din can be overwhelming when our ospreys are in full voice times two!

Tom with a big fish-should be enough to share

Tom with a big fish-should be enough to share

We have all been pleasantly surprised by the smooth transition from our previous Tom to this year’s Tom, aptly described by Dr. Spitzer as “Calico Tom”.  Many of you were filled with worry and consternation, wondering if this mottled intruder could fill the shoes, or should we say talons, of the old Tom.  Well, I am pleased to say that Calico Tom has jumped right in and taken over his duties as defender and provider.  His hunting skills are providing many fish lunches and dinners.   When not at the nest, he comes a flyin’ when Audrey gives the distress call or he sees an intruder in the area.  We had a flurry of intruders a couple of weeks ago, which I attribute to some of the juvenile ospreys making their way back to this area after their first migration.

Audrey on Osprey Girl's boat lift

Audrey on Osprey Girl’s boat lift

There have been so many great comments on the blog this year.  I read them all with gusto, and enjoy each and every one.  It’s been a real treat to see where our readers/watchers are located.  This year, we even have a dedicated camera watcher from Germany.  Her name is Uta, and she posts informative comments and still shots from the ospreycam on the Conservancy’s Facebook page.  Fran’s comments are lovely, as she describes in poetic detail what she has observed on the nest.  We have Joan watching the camera from Long Beach, California and Maureen from Cape Cod in Massachusetts, truly from sea to shining sea!  Which leads me to my next request, submissions to our “Where in the World are Tom and Audrey” contest.  Please take a photo of yourself watching the ospreycam on your home computer, tablet or phone.  Send it to  We will post a weekly winner in each blog, and then announce a winner for the 2015 osprey season.  The overall winner will be awarded a great prize after all of our ospreys take off to their winter digs.  All of the winning photos from the last two seasons can be viewed in our old blogs.

Returning to the nest

Returning to the nest

Don’t forget about the Great Give coming up on May 5 and 6.  More information may be found on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website and Facebook page.  The largest donor during the Great Give will win a visit to the secret location, hosted by none other than the Crazy Osprey Family in the flesh!  We put out a great spread to welcome our guests, but not to worry, we won’t be serving fish!

Well, that’s it for now.  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 today.  Thanks very much!

136 thoughts on “Calico Tom-Protector and Defender


  2. A belated Happy Mother’s Day to Audrey! When I first checked in at 9:06 , Tom was on the nest. A large Osprey I thought was Audrey was perched on the left-hand pole, seemed to be waiting, but Tom wouldn’t get up. A not-so-welcome visitor? A bit later, inggb when I checked back in around 9:12, Audrey was back on the nest and “redecorating.” There’s a new stick.. it’s not too long, kind of thick, and light enough for her to move very easily. She is not happy with its placement, and she’s fussing with it. She has moved it all over the nest while sitting on the eggs. Who says Ospreys can’t multitask? When I first started watching, it was on the far left side of the nest. Then little by little she moved it clear across to the right corner. It looked as though she might be content with it pushed so far to the right that it seems poised to fall out of the nest… But no! She fusses with it some more, muttering to herself as she pokes the uncooperative stick here and there. It just doesn’t fit into her decorating scheme. Then at 9:31, Tom flies in and stands right next to her… no, it’s more as though he’s standing on top of her. She is not at all happy with being crowded that way and makes some noise about it, but Tom won’t leave. He then starts nudging at her bottom. No kidding! That’s really, really what he started doing! Audrey made quite a bit of noise about it, but Tom wouldnt stop pushing and nudging her around and under her tail feathers. He seemed bound and determined to get her out of the nest. (“This nest ain’t big enough for the two of us, baby! “) Audrey finally flew off at about 9:35/9:36. She’d had enough of Tom’s gentlemanly conduct, I guess. (Alas! He’s no gentleman, Audrey… He’s just a youngish male Osprey who needs some training in nest etiquette.). Tom quickly settled himself onto the eggs without any further ado. Good heavens, Tom! You’re supposed to be out and about providing for Mama. Back to remedial Papa Osprey school for you! As I finish this at 9:48, Tom is sitting quietly — contentedly? — on the nest. Just a homebody, I suppose. Who would’ve guessed? .So much for stereotypical gender roles among the Grand Ole Ospreys!

  3. P.S. Too funny! By the time I finished writing the above entry, it was about 9:55. Checked back on the nest, and Audrey was back in place, fussing once again with that same stick. Take that, Tom!

  4. P.P.S. Forgot to mention that the sparrows were chattering up a storm when I checked the nest and found that Audrey was back. No doubt gossiping at the goings on in the Osprey penthouse!

  5. Hello All, I’ve seen Tom nudge Audrey also, it seems so sweet, he’s really intent on doing his share of nest duty. There was a good Nature program on a few weeks ago that I taped and finally had a chance to watch it the other night, it was about how Hummingbirds will start a nest right in the vicinity of Hawks and they are usually quite safe from the Jays which prey upon and feast on the Hummingbird eggs but the Jays don’t often venture into Hawk territory because the Hawks will feast on the Jays but the Hawks don’t bother with the Hummingbirds, they’re to small and too fast to waste their time on. Does that make sense….but also the Hummingbirds probably don’t even know that the Hawks are the reason they have successful nests their little brains just know they had a good nest and the hatchlings survived so they return time and again to the same area where they had success. I think that’s the case with the little Sparrows or House Finch that nest so close to the Osprey, what do you all think??? (Lillie)

    • Hello to all- last week we watched on Cape Cod a male osprey who was on nest with female on one telephone pole and the telephone pole next to it had 3 crows sitting on it. We watched for 10 minutes the male osprey chase each crow by self and all three high into the sky with nosedives etc. and finally the three crows said enough of you big bird and were gone and haven’t been seen since then! Always under the osprey nest are the little birds minding their own business. Isn’t bird life GRAND!!!💫✨💫✨💫✨

  6. In answer to your ? Lillie regarding the sparrows—they find it mutually agreeable. The sparrows have a safe place to nest (and some grand nesting material!) In turn, the ospreys have someone to “clean” their place of insects and bits of fish from feedings. They rather depend on each other (symbiotic is maybe a word I’m looking for?). I asked CC this year (see FB posts)if it could be the same sparrows year to year and they answered its hard to tell but at least the same family as they return to area where born. I thought the hawk/hummingbird relationship very wonderous! Oh! and the sparrows sing great lullabies….

  7. Oh no! The Nature program did say that sometimes nests are still bothered and ransacked by bad birds even with the big birds as protection. It seems the Starlings are really torturing the Sparrows this morning, I hope they didn’t get the eggs or chicks. Oh my~

  8. The water is busy and the nest is noisy at 8:15. The nest-raft is a little symbiotic world of its own, adrift on the ripples of dark green water on this overcast morning. The sparrows are particularly chatty, hovering about the nest. There’s quite a bit of activity . I count at least 4 at any given moment, in different “corners” of the nest. They seem to come and go, each pausing for a few moments; as each one flutters off, another immediately drops in. Could there be as many as 5 or 6? There must be more than 1 nest in the immediate vicinity of Tom and Audrey’s abode… a bit of aggressive/defensive behavior in evidence every now and then, as one sparrow flies directly at another as if to force an “intruder” away from the Osprey nest. The maneuver works if only temporarily. . But there always seem to be quite a gathering of sparrows hoping for some leftovers. Audrey gets up and nudges the eggs around with her beak and head, then resettles on the nest. Is it my impression, or does she seem to be doing this more often this morning? At 8:27, Tom arrives with Audrey’s morning treat. The exchange takes place smoothly, Audrey takes off, Tom fusses with the eggs and then settles onto them with that rocking motion. There you go, Tom! That’s the way to get Audrey off the nest! (Just wait until the nest is full of noisy, hungry hatchlings, my friend. Will you be so eager to settle in?) As to yesterday’s observation of Tom’s “wanting” to be on the nest… that was no gentle nudging; I’ve seen that many times. What I saw yesterday was a little different. Tom was quite insistent, wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Audrey didn’t just get up and take off. The little drama played out for about 5 minutes by the clock. It was rather amusing and fascinating. Anyway, now at 9:00, it’s Tom who’s calling out, loudly demanding something, with only 2 or 3 chatty sparrows for company… Although every so often there’s a larger, darker bird’s head just barely in the camera’s range, apparently picking at the nest; don’t think I’d noticed one of those hanging around before. Giving the sparrows a bit of competition? (“Audrey, my love, do come back! Fair is fair! Haven’t you finished eating yet? Have you gone shopping or something? Our pesky neighbors keep borrowing things. Do bring home a nice stick or a bit of moss.”). Just before I sign off at 9:30, Tom is still on the nest… calls out rather pitifully now and then. (Be careful what you ask for, Tom. Sometimes you get more than you wanted.). Who needs sitcoms?

  9. Some of those birds weren’t all Sparrows, there were some looking like Starlings
    to me two Sparrows popped up on the outer branches and almost immediately there
    was a flurry of these Starling like birds flying around (4 or 5) then they were gone
    except one sitting on a near twig, ignored by Audrey who was busy fussing with her
    to be babies.

  10. Thanks, Joan. I thought there might have some starlings around the nest. I’m not good at identifying different species; they were black and I’d guess about 50% larger than sparrows, with light colored beaks. (But there were definitely multiple sparrows, as well!). As to Audrey’s focus on the soon-to-be hatchlings, she definitely has her priorities straight.

    • Starlings are also called that because they have light colored “speckles” that some thought resembled “stars” on their dark brown/black bodies. The have a yellowish beak and chattery whistles and noises when they talk.

  11. Sweet dreams Audrey and Tom! Audrey u really know how to swing your hips to get into the egg warming position and Tom u have grown up a lot! I finally donated monies today to keep your cameras rolling!! Keep up the good work!😇😇😇

  12. An idyllic morning on the nest. The reflection of the sun on the water is a long, ripply finger caressing the edge of the nest with hints of fuschia glimmering on the sparkling highlights at the outer edges. Every so often, a breeze ruffles the feathers on the back of Audrey’s head. The breeze reveals that there is a pale green, leafy thing ornamenting the nest this morning. Audrey is quiet, but she seems restless. She seems to be getting up and nudging the eggs more often. And as the sun shifts slightly in the course of it morning commute, I realize by the now-apparent “calico” patchwork of brown shades that it is, in fact, Tom on the nest! (Funny how a too-bright light can trick the eye.). It’s a beautiful morning.

  13. Starlings abound! You Pirates of the Birds! Begone You! Do not take over our nests say the sparrows or leave your eggs either! Go find your own patch you Patch-eyed Pirates!

  14. Enjoyed that, Linda. Starlings really are pirates, aren’t they?! If we speak of a “herd” of cows, a “murder” of crows, and a “congress” of baboons… I’d vote for calling multiples of that species bqwtyird an “invasion” of starlings. (They do have a way of being invasive, and a gathering of them does seem like an invasion.)

  15. The nest looks more interesting this morning. Audrey is fussing incessantly with what seems to be new mossy stuff, in the general area of the red fabric on COM’s stick. Around 8:00, Tom dropped in and I think he brought more green stuff. (I had a brief problem with the signal, and when I reconnected a minute or so later, there was a whole cluster of leaves at the right hand pole.). These birds do like to decorate! I had a bit of email correspondence with one of the folks at Woods Hole about the peculiar things in the nest up there (rubber gloves, bits of rope, pieces of fabric that dangle off the edge and blow in the wind) and he commented that he never ceases to be amazed by the odd collections of things the Ospreys will bring into their nests. The New Jersey nest also is cluttered with “flotsam and jetsam.” Audrey and Tom seem to have a rather tastefully understated way of adding color. Of course Mrs Boo-kay would have only the finest, hand-painted Royal Doulton!

  16. Since last I checked in, the “Green thing” has been moved .. First thought it
    was lettuce but think it is plastic or cloth Audrey was fussing with i for a while
    moved a piece closer to her egg hollow then Tom flew in and she eagerly
    flew off and Tom bless his heart settled down to his duty.
    Pray for Rain in Calif. !!

  17. Hello. I’m Cathy. I’ve been watching this season and I know that this is a new nest this year and Audrey gave Bob Villa a run for it when she put it together but it really appears to be very small compared to other nests I’ve seen. I can’t imagine momma, papa and the little ones fitting in. Is the small size just the way the camera is picking it up?

    • Hi, Cathy and welcome to “our” nest. The reason the nest may look a little smaller to you is that we remove the nest at the end of each season. This is for two reasons, to ensure that parasites do not winter over in the used nest, and to lessen the windage on the nest so it doesn’t topple over. We have been doing this for twenty seasons, and have never had any issues with a new nest being built. The nest is plenty big for the whole osprey family, not to worry! But it will look a little crowded as the young ospreys grow, and grow quickly they will. The Conservancy has a Youtube of the nest being removed each of the last two years. Thanks so much for watching the camera and reading our blogs. Mrs. COM

  18. Something about the movement of the water this morning makes the reflection of the sun look like a living creature with many arms, swimming… dancing on the surface of the water. Audrey, of course, sees none of it. She is quite focused on her task. It’s all one, immense, living puzzle… each pice fitting so well with another. But no, that’s not quite right. Perhaps an orchestra is a better metaphor: each instrument has its own part to play, and all together they create one piece of music. Yes… a piece of visual music… melodies, harmonies, soft sounds contrasting with loud crashing chords, grace notes… all to raise us up, lift our hearts, move us to wonder, if we have the grace to pay attention. At 8:10, Tom arrives with the tail end of a fish. The exchange is smooth this time, with only a quiet exchange of Osprey greetings. Each does his or her part. Audrey flies off to eat in peace. Tom settles onto the eggs with that familiar rocking motion. (It’s also like a ballet, so beautifully choreographed, minor variations on a theme.) And soon there will be a new “movement” in this particular symphony, when the eggs hatch. Can’t wait!

  19. I’m Three Hours behind you on the east coast so sorry to miss the early morn
    activity .. Just now 10:11 your time looks like Audrey on duty a Sparrow on
    on one of the favorite twigs to the far right, another joins him for a brief moment
    and flies off, the first following soon after .. Wonder if they have eggs in a nest
    under the platform or are just taking advantage of the convenient shelter ..
    Mrs. COM. Can you tell if they have a nest under there? We have rain here
    in Long Beach Ca. and more to come,.will take all we can get. Sure miss
    our wet winters

    • Hi, Joan! We cannot see the sparrow’s nest, but are sure there is one under the osprey nest as they steal pieces of grass from Tom and Audrey’s nest and take it underneath. We have always had sparrows nesting under the big nest. Glad you are getting some rain in Long Beach, you really need it! Thanks for your question. Mrs. COM

    • Hi, Jeanne! The first egg should hatch on or around May 21, followed in approximately 3 days by egg number two and six days after that for egg number three. All dates are estimates, but we are getting closer! Thanks for your question. Mrs. COM

  20. Had Comic relief this Morn. Tom on nest lots of squawking but no Audrey
    finally she arrives and a smooth switch takes place Tom off to his manly
    business, Audrey fluffing and fussing rearranging twigs I’m sure she is
    thinking ” Men .. What a mess he left” Little later Tom is back with a huge
    stick putts it in a good spot it rolls down Audrey helping they put it back it
    rolls down, They put it back it rolls down .. Tom manhandles it to another
    sight it stays .. Lots of chuckles over their antics .. Audrey off to her womanly
    things Tom back on nest/
    Two questions, never see them relieve themselves, The Bald Eagles backed
    up to the edge of the nest and did their business, don’t see that with the
    Ospreys ?? Thinking When Tom was having a hissy fit he might have had
    to go?? Just Curious.
    Second .. The only noise I hear is the birds chattering. No voices or engines
    running, Dogs barking Etc. ??

  21. The ospreys do that, too, although I haven’t witnessed it this year. It certainly helps to keep the nest clean! I just checked the Bremen, ME site and there was a closeup of Mom. Amazing! I believe they have several people sharing in the photography. She appeared to be staring right at me. I hadn’t realized how black their bills are.

      • If you haven’t witnessed a feeding, go to the Hellgate Osprey cam and you can see Stanley feeding Iris in a clip from May 6. It’s precious. He DOES take a few bites himself! Unfortunately, the noise from the highway is very loud. It sounds as though a thunderstorm is occurring.That’s also the case at the NJ site. Our Audrey and Tom don’t realize how lucky they are to have such a tranquil place to nest.

  22. Hi, I’m new here (at this site). I live in Colorado but grew up in the Northern Va area, vacationing At Va beach and now at the Outer Banks. I love this webcam. Thanks so much! I have been watching a Barn owl webcam nesting box since last year. But, on this webcam they just posted a Osprey Rescue from a leash that was used to make the nest. It is in the front range of Colorado. Thought you might be interested. Scroll down to the bottom of the site to see the info.


  24. It seems that CalicoTom has been on the nest for at least the past hour and a half — where’s Audrey? He’s been chirping and chirping, but she’s been nowhere in sight.

  25. Correction: The NJ site isn’t noisy. I’ve visited so many sites I’m getting confused. Speaking of confusion, it took me 15 days to realize the “Who’s Your Daddy” site was so yesterday and the “Calico Tom” is the current blog source. DUH!!! I had a lot of catching up to do.

  26. Hey, everybody! Crazy Osprey Girl has posted a new blog entitled “A Crabby Bird Wearing a Backpack,” and people are now adding comments after what’s she’s written. (Plus there are great photos!). It has to do with another female from the area and how they have tracked her winter “commute” to South America. Check it out!

    • Thanks, Fran. I had seen Crabby and her backpack. I assume that’s where we’ll post our comments now? I don’t want to miss the news about the first egg to hatch.

  27. Just checked in on our Family in time to catch Tom leaving nest and a few seconds later Audrey
    flew in to Woman her post .. Have caught Tom leaving the eggs unattended for a few seconds
    and Audrey flying in for duty. My guess is that she is near by and Tom communicated with her
    that he needed a break. Another Sunny Morn in Long Beach Ca.

    • I saw the switch, too — but I don’t know one from the other. Can you give me clues? I can’t get a size comparison. Thanks. (We’ve been getting rain at last in Albuquerque, but we will hope you get even more!)

      • I can try Barbara Audrey is a solid dark color and Tom is lighter with lots of lighter
        spots hence Calico Tom

      • Sorry, Joan, I meant how can I tell the peregrines apart. Your post about Tom and Audrey came right on top of what I’d seen on the Baltimore camera, and I didn’t distinguish the two. Yes, I can tell Tom and Audrey apart, but if anyone can help me distintuish the two falcons, I would be very grateful. Thanks.

  28. The Falcons on the Transamerica building on Light Street have two new baby chicks!, just hatched yesterday and today! So adorable!!

    • Yes they are So Sweet little puff balls, Got a good look at them when parent took
      a flight around the neighborhood

  29. Geez, three places to post… I am posting here because it seems like this is the one running in chronological 2015 order. Someone posted a comment about the size of our nest. Check out the one in Boulder, Colorado – it’s about FIVE times the size of ours, though without the COM & family: I think the size of the nest has a lot to do with the size of the platform it’s on. There is a huge nest atop one of the field’s light pole at the Edgewater Park football/baseball fields. We can see them fly on/off from time to time. Knowing how large these birds are (6′ wingspan), they seem much smaller as they soar above!

    The peregrines are cute, all fluff with one unhatched. Our ospreys will be here soon! I’m not looking forward to the tortuous battles over food and access for chick #3 (last laid). I resign myself to the fact that life isn’t always pretty but it is the way of nature. Here’s to hoping for the best!

    • Okay Kathy, you survived last year’s battles! I think we should name them in honor of the Star Spangled Banner’s 100th anniversary: Dawn Light, Twilight Gleam & Perilous. What do you think? Perilous would seem to fit for #3!

  30. What a beautiful sight at this time with Audrey facing us relaxing in the last sunshine for today! Rest up and get ready for the new babies🍼🍼🍼🍼🍼

  31. With 3 blogs being posted to, I am afraid I will miss something. Mrs. COM could you direct us to just one for current postings. Thanks.

  32. We’re trying to get on one blog. “In Case You missed It” is the latest by date, 5/18. Shall we agree on that one? We need to be on the same page with the birth of the chicks so near!

  33. It looks like rain on the Chesapeake and Tom looks miserable all hunkered down
    keeping his baby’s dry Same thing at the Falcon nest not a glimpse of the babies
    now Three.. parent is doing a good job covering them hope they are getting enough
    to eat

  34. To everyone still posting on this sit, all the rest of us are on “In Case You Missed it”. I wondered what happened to you! There’s actually a chick in the Woods Hole site. I watched it being fed.

      • You’re very welcome. Apologies for “sit” instead of “site”, by the way. When everyone was going in different directions it seemed sensible to use the latest one which was 5/18. I do have a post on the this site saying that on 5/20. We’ve missed you! You have a lot of catching up to do. One thing I’m having a problem with (Fran is, too) is the Baltimore falcons. The three babies are precious but all those feathers from things the parents have killed to feed them! Can’t we teach them to eat fish?!!!!!

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