A Crabby Bird Wearing A Backpack

Happy allergy season everyone! It’s Osprey Girl. It has been a while since I have posted a blog, but there is no better time than the present. Today I will be shifting the focus from our beloved Tom and Audrey to another feathered friend named Crabby. Those of you who were at the Welcome Back Osprey Party in April will know what I am referring to and the rest of you are about to know.

On April 17, 2014, Dr. Rob Bierregaard and his team tagged a female osprey here on the Eastern Shore, who was subsequently named Crabby. Dr. Bierregaard is a Research Associate of the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He has trapped and tagged dozens of ospreys during his career as an ornithologist. Trapping a bird is not easy, but the setup that was used made the process go smoothly and the bird was not injured. The team set up a trap (picture below) and placed it on top of Crabby’s nest while she was away fishing. When Crabby returned to sit on the nest, the trap was sprung and a series of knots tightened around her talons, preventing her from flying away. Dr. Bierregaard immediately waded out into the water and put a ladder up to the nest. Once up at the nest, a black hood was placed over Crabby’s head in order to calm her down. Crabby was then carried back to shore. Back on land, a tracker was fitted and placed onto Crabby’s back, secured by nylon straps. The tracker is set up like a backpack for a bird and runs on solar power. Once the tracker was secured, Crabby was free to go and continue on with her life.  Although Dr. Bierregaard had been trying to catch male ospreys, he determined that Crabby was actually an unattached female who happened to be visiting the nest.

Trap used to catch Crabby

Trap used to catch Crabby

Hooded Crabby

Hooded Crabby

The most interesting part of tracking Crabby is that we can see her every movement. On August 25, 2014, Crabby packed her bags and began her journey south from Maryland to her winter home. There was little traffic, and she made a few pit stops on her way down the east coast. Crabby arrived in southern Florida on August 29. The next day, she left the Florida Keys around 4:28 p.m. and landed in Cuba 6 hours later (customs was clearly not very busy/ existent). Crabby then travelled across the beautiful Caribbean. She left the Dominican Republic the morning of September 8th and landed in Venezuela 25 hours later. Dr. Bierregaard continued to track Crabby’s flight across Venezuela.  The last leg of her trip took 14 days and ended on the coast of French Guinea. Crabby wintered in this location and on March 15, 2015, she began the journey north back to Maryland.

At the nest

At the nest



This year Crabby did not return to the pole where she was tagged. Instead, she chose a tree in a different part of the Eastern Shore not very far from where she was tagged. Dr. Bierregaard contacted Crazy Osprey Man (COM) a few days ago asking him to attempt to track down Crabby’s new home based on information from her tracker. On Sunday, May 10, COM and I made the drive to Crabby’s new location and saw her happily flying about. In our area, ospreys typically nest on poles in the water, so it is unusual that she chose a tree on land to set up her nest. One of the main problems with nesting in a tree is that predators can more easily reach the nest.

Crabby's nest. Crabby is not home

Crabby’s nest. Crabby is not home

Dr. Bierregaard holding Crabby

Dr. Bierregaard holding Crabby

Crabby’s full journey is detailed on Dr. Bierregaard’s website which I have linked below.  I encourage each of you to take a peak at it! Once on the site, you will be able to sign up to receive regular updates about Crabby and the other ospreys that Dr. Bierregaard has tagged.

Jeff from the Chesapeake Conservancy holds Crabby

Jeff from the Chesapeake Conservancy holds Crabby

Adios Amigos! Until Next Time,

Osprey Girl

http://www.ospreytrax.com/OspreyMainPage.html Osprey Home

http://www.ospreytrax.com/html_files/Crabbya.html Crabby’s Maps

23 thoughts on “A Crabby Bird Wearing A Backpack

  1. Thank you, COG, for a fascinating blog and great photos. It’s a fabulous piece of research into the life of these amazing birds. What a long “commute” she Braves to get to her winter home! I have such admiration for these creatures. The photos are quite wonderful and really flesh out the story. Thanks again.

  2. Hey Osprey Girl! What a pleasant surprise to read a beautiful and informative osprey entry from you! I am still at awe how big the osprey are-one of your pictures really depict how tremendous their wing length truly is! Tonight on our nightly osprey search ride on Cape Cod we were able to see two osprey perched up in trees overlooking different nests-they are so tall. Also the course of their travels off season is so crazy! We watched a pair return to a sparse nest placed near their old nest on top of a chimney! The osprey seem to find parking spots easier than me👣👣 for now thanks for all for letting me enjoy the OSPREY VIEW!🌈

  3. Leaves and twine, grass and straw, warps, wefts and spindle beaks. They carefully weave all these “threads” into the collected branches of a loom. Birds are Weavers, making their Tapestry: A Nest! (Behold a Hummingbird or an Oriole house, Amen)

  4. The view of the nest is like a painting this morning at 8:35. The water is as still as glass, and a halo of clouds encompasses the nest, with a bright spot of sunlight illuminating it all from within. In the blink of an eye, the reflection of clouds evaporates as the wind sweeps them away. Only the ball of light remains. Tom is on the nest, and calls out every so often. Most of his song is softly spoken, a wistful yearning for something unnamed. Every so often, a series of calls builds to a crescendo and might almost sound like a demand, except that he falls silent after hitting that loudest note. And then for a few precious moments, an avian duet adds to the Rennaisance quality of the scene. As another formation of clouds enters the picture, Tom’s quiet notes alternate with the chirping of another bird or two. They sing in this call-and-response kind of way for almost a miraculous minute, and then it’s once again a silent painting. In the upper atmosphere there’s enough wind to keep the clouds rolling along. But at the level of the nest, there’s barely a whiff of breeze to touch even a feather on Tom’s head… he’s panting a bit, so it must be getting warm in the mid-morning sun. The duet starts up again, this time it’s clearly an alternating song with the sparrows. Just a few seconds, but it’s very much there: a few notes from Tom then a few chirps from the sparrows, followed by Tom’s tones. Then Tom stands and fusses with eggs, moving them around a bit before settling himself back onto them, breast first. Oh my goodness! What a joy — and a privilege! — it is to start the day with these images and sounds. (There’s lovely, yellowish, straw-like stuff at the front edge of the nest… new color scheme, and ever so functional. Wonder if it will stay or blow away?) Wishing many beautiful moments this day to all!

  5. So glad she made it home. That was quite a trip. I can say I would not be looking forward to such a very long journey in the fall!!

  6. Just checked the falcon nest. Be patient… You’ll probably have to wait no longer than 10-15 minutes and she’s bound to get off the nest. I started watching around 9:20 and at 9:26 Barb got off the nest entirely and went off ot the ledge. Guess what? This morning there’s a second chick!, it’s still a. It damp, and while Bab was off at the ledge, the older chick — quite fluffy — snuggled up to its newer, damper sibling. Soon there will be new life in the osprey nest, too, and I won’t get a thing done, keeping an eye on the hatchlings. Awesome stuff!

  7. It appears there are postings here and to the “In Case you missed it” blog. I have been busy going back and forth between to the two nests This will certainly be an exciting time! I just can’t wait for Audrey’s chicks to be here!

  8. Barb just returned with “dinner” for the hatchlings. Boh took off, in a hurry. Guess he got tired of babysitting.

  9. I did see the chick (or chicks)!! Barb is so protective it’s hard to tell but ti looks as thought here could be two. I could see one egg.

  10. I should have read Fran’s comment before I posted. So there ARE two! That’s fast. I also should proofread my posts. No way to correct “ti” after I’ve made the error.

  11. The falcon now has three chicks. I worry about them falling off the building. I’m not sure where to leave comments either, been going back and forth. It is always nice seeing life renewing itself.

  12. The falcon babies just had breakfast, then Mom(or Dad?) flew off with what was left of the carcass. The babies huddle together until Mom(or Dad-can’t tell the difference with these two) comes back. Falcon domestic bliss!

  13. New life! So exciting! Also, I am so happy that ALL eggs hatched. This will be a busy summer watching both families. The difference between the two nests is notable. Much activity at the Osprey home, but very little transferring of duties during the incubation period for the falcons. Let’s see if Boh steps it up now that the chicks are here. Thanks to the Chesapeake Conservancy for providing another webcam so we can learn more about these beautiful birds.

  14. I think everyone would like to be on the same blog. “In Case You Missed It” is the latest by date 5/18. Shall we agree on that one?

  15. Hi, all! We’ve switched over to the latest blog entry, which is entitled “In Case You Missed It.” (It’s wonderfully informative about eggs, incubation, the effects of pesticides, and the good news about rebounding Osprey populations, among other things.) For newcomers: as each new blog entry is added, everyone switches over to that latest page. Last year, I kept missing the changeovers, so I though I’d take a moment to explain in order to keep anyone from being “left behind.” The best bet for staying on top of things is to go first to the Chesapeake Conservancy homepage, clicking on the latest blog entry, and then scroll down to read the most recent comments and add your own. That way, we all stay “on the same page” and no one misses updates and notes. See you all there!

    • Hi, Gergi. The hatching window for the first two eggs has passed. We are in the window for the third egg, which is over on June 2. Thanks for watching the camera and reading our blog. Mrs. COM

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