Who Said You Can’t Fool Mother Nature?

Good morning from the fabulous Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Life has been busy, busy here at the secret location with graduation parties, New Student Orientation, shopping for dorm necessities and unfortunately, chasing the almighty dollar at work.  I have finally had a chance to go through our photos and amaze you all with our next blog.

As promised, I will now regale you with a most heartwarming retelling of the events of Wednesday, June 17, 2015 here at the secret location.    After it became painfully obvious that our eggs were not viable and would not hatch, Dr. Paul Spitzer, our dear friend and osprey ornithologist, suggested that we find a foster chick to place in our nest for Tom and Audrey to raise.  A flurry of activity ensued between the Chesapeake Conservancy, Craig Koppie, raptor biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Crazy Osprey Family.  Mr. Koppie had been involved with a situation on Poplar Island involving a pair of ospreys who had been attempting to build a nest on a piling where the barges pulled in.  Poplar Island, which is located in the Chesapeake Bay, is currently being rebuilt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers using clean dredged materials from the Chesapeake Bay’s approach channels to Baltimore, which is located approximately 30 miles to the north, north/west of Poplar Island.  The pair of ospreys in question would try to do some nest building, and the nest would be knocked off by the barges.  This situation kept repeating itself until one day when the female laid two eggs on the piling.   The nest consisted of a few sticks laying on the piling, certainly not an ideal place to incubate and raise osprey chicks, especially with barges coming and going all day and disturbing the nest.

Koppie and other wildlife biologists decided to remove the eggs and place them in a foster nest where a female osprey was already incubating three eggs.  There are twenty five active osprey nests on Poplar Island, and it was not difficult to find a suitable foster mother to incubate the eggs.  The Chesapeake Conservancy contacted Mr. Koppie, who works as a raptor biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It seemed that our mutual situations would be a great fit to solve his problem of potentially having too many chicks in one nest and our problem of not having any chicks in our nest.  He checked the nest in early June, and determined that four of the five eggs had hatched, and two of the chicks needed to be relocated to ensure the survival of all four young.  Now a suitable day to transfer the chicks to our nest had to be identified.  Mr. Koppie wanted to wait for a day that was not sweltering hot, and preferably wanted to place the chicks early on a cool morning when they were ten to fourteen days old.

On June 16, 2015, Mr. Koppie, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists Peter McGowan and Robbie Callahan, visited the foster nest and saw that the four chicks were doing well.  A decision was made to remove the two chicks with the greater weight and body condition to become foster chicks in Tom and Audrey’s nest here on Kent Island.   I am sure the adult pair at that nest were probably happy to have two less mouths to feed!  Tom Collins from Kool Ice & Seafood Company, Inc. in Cambridge, Maryland donated fresh menhaden so Mr. Koppie would be able to feed the foster chicks before they were placed in the nest on Wednesday morning.  Apparently, ospreys will not eat fish that have already been frozen.  Mr. Koppie fed the chicks at around 10:00 p.m. that night.

Wednesday morning, June 17 arrived, clear and refreshingly cool, a perfect scenario for the chick transfer.  Mr. Koppie and his associate, Teena Gorrow from Salisbury University, arrived at the secret location along with a reporter and photographer from Hearst Broadcasting.  He took the chicks out of his bag, and placed them on our deck table while getting ready.

Here was our first meeting with our new foster chicks. Remember, you should click on each photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure:

 

Delivery room!

Delivery room!

 

Like most babies, they didn’t stay awake very long:

Naptime in the delivery room

Naptime in the delivery room

 

This is one of my favorite photos of our new chicks, such an artistic shot!

Our foster chicks before they were placed in the nest

Our foster chicks before they were placed in the nest

 

I’m sure our babies were quite perplexed at the series of events that brought them to our deck table:

Where are we?

Where are we?

 

Everyone got to snap lots of photographs:

 

COM taking a picture of our new arrivals

COM taking a picture of our new arrivals

 

COM and I got to hold our new friends.  Osprey Girl was happy to take photos, and didn’t have any desire to hold the young ospreys. .

 

And then the transfer began.  First, Mr. Koppie and COM got their equipment together to go out to the nest.  COM had already set up his giant stepladder.  I manned the video camera, and Osprey Girl memorialized the events of the day with our super duper Nikon:

 

Precious cargo-chicks in a bag

Precious cargo-chicks in a bag

 

Audrey was on the nest, wondering about all the commotion.  Tom was nowhere to be found:

 

Motherhood is just a few moments away

Motherhood is just a few moments away

 

Then the trudge through the water began.  Fortunately, the tide was not too high that morning:

 

Craig Koppie and COM on the way out to the nest

Craig Koppie and COM on the way out to the nest

 

As COM and Mr. Koppie approached the nest, Audrey, who had gotten out of dodge when the gentlemen started out toward her, reappeared.  Look closely, and you will see her approaching them.  She is to the right of the nest just at the junction of the water and land:

 

Craig Koppie, COM and Audrey hovering around the nest

Craig Koppie, COM and Audrey hovering around the nest

 

Mr. Koppie went up the ladder with his bag, which held a container to retrieve two of the eggs.  He had made a decision to leave one egg in the nest so if Tom and Audrey did not take to their foster chicks immediately, they would still have the urge to sit on the egg and would remain at or near the nest to facilitate bonding with the new arrivals:

 

Craig Koppie on his way up COM's really cool ladder

Craig Koppie on his way up COM’s really cool ladder

 

In the meantime, Audrey was not far away and was not happy:

 

Audrey is not happy

Audrey is not happy

 

Audrey on alert

Audrey on alert

 

The first thing that Mr. Koppie did was to remove two of the eggs.  He placed them gently into a container so the eggs may be examined at a later time to try to determine why they did not hatch:

 

Preparing to remove two eggs under Audrey's watchful eye

Preparing to remove two eggs under Audrey’s watchful eye

 

Placing one of the eggs in a container to preserve for further analysis

Placing one of the eggs in a container to preserve for further analysis

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Koppie’s faithful companion, Crazy Osprey Man, was waiting patiently with his precious cargo:

 

Faithful helper at the ready

Faithful helper at the ready

 

Mr. Koppie brought the bag containing the eggs down, and carefully brought the bag containing the chicks up the ladder to begin the transfer.  Audrey is still noisily protesting and not leaving the area:

 

First chick going in

First chick going in

 

Second chick going in

Second chick going in

 

Check out Mr. Koppie’s right hand!

 

Up you go!

Up you go!

 

Almost home

Almost home

 

After both chicks were successfully placed in the nest, Mr. Koppie took some photos:

 

Craig Koppie taking photos of the foster chicks in their new nest

Craig Koppie taking photos of the foster chicks in their new nest

 

Literally within seconds of Mr. Koppie and COM heading back to the dock from the nest, Audrey arrived back at the nest:

 

Audrey has a surprise (actually 2 surprises) waiting

Audrey has a surprise (actually 2 surprises) waiting

 

After both foster chicks were safely in the nest, back on shore there was more work to be done:

 

Mission accomplished and the media frenzy begins

Mission accomplished and the media frenzy begins

 

Craig Koppie being interviewed by Sally Kidd, national correspondent for Hearst Television’s Washington News Bureau:

 

Craig Koppie is interviewed by Sally Kidd

Craig Koppie is interviewed by Sally Kidd

 

You can watch the video feed from the ospreycam of Mr. Koppie making the transfer at “Tom & Audrey’s Osprey Adoption” on YouTube.

 

It was so much fun to watch Audrey come back to the nest after the chicks were placed.  She landed and kind of looked casually down into the nest, then did a double-take and looked again with some confusion.  Being the consummate mother, she settled right down into the nest and began caring for her new babies.  Mr. Koppie was ecstatic!  He sure loves his birds and a success story.  Look closely and you can see a small head:

 

Take a close look and you can see a little head

Take a close look and you can see a little head

 

I am sure you are wondering where Tom was while all of the excitement was going on.  So were we!  But not very long after things settled down, the proud father returned, only he didn’t know he was a proud father until he looked down in the nest:

 

Tom arrives back at the nest

Tom arrives back at the nest

 

After a few angonizing hours, everyone was fed, and life with chicks at the nest began for another season.  And weren’t we all delighted at such an incredible outcome?

So that is our osprey adoption story in a nutshell!

I have some great photos for the next blog, and will attempt to answer many of the questions that have been popping up from our faithful camera watchers and blog readers.  In the meantime, make sure you vote for your preferred pair of names for our babies.  Please go to https://surveymonkey.com/r/ospreynames to vote for your favorite!

Until next time, we remain-

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

Here is our latest winner of the “Where in the World Are Tom and Audrey” contest:

Interns from the University of Richmond's Spatial Analysis Lab watching the ospreycam

Interns from the University of Richmond’s Spatial Analysis Lab watching the ospreycam

 

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://chesapeakeconservancy.org today.  Thanks very much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

913 thoughts on “Who Said You Can’t Fool Mother Nature?

  1. I only log into the blog from time to time, but thank you all for letting me know there are now 3 juvies. I knew we had M&M, but yesterday I saw 3 (or at least I thought there were all juvies)!! I couldn’t quite figure out where the third one came from. From all you bloggers, I found out he/she is a “natural adoption”. I don’t know if this kind of things happens all the time in nature, but It’s nice to know Tom and Audrey have accepted the visitor with open wings. I’m pretty sure I saw the visitor munching on a piece of fish yesterday on its own. I feel very lucky to be able to see all this as nature unfolds in front of us. Enjoying all the twists and turns this year. And thank you all for sharing!

  2. well it looks like Maine and Montana wont be having any thing to eat thanks to gullet gut….sad..

  3. KATHY- We love ya! I know you love all the Osprey, I think you are fabulous in your devotion. I know you are kidding around, it’s all good. It’s a bit nicer weatherwise here in Maryland today, at least it’s not humid, when you live here there’s a saying we all say here in Baltimore, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity that gets ya!

    • We have that saying in Va also! Actually, the whole south has adopted it. Boy, yesterday was sure a baddie.

  4. LOVE YA TO LILLIE, THANKS.WE ALL DO HAVE OUR FUN, AND LOVE OUR OSPREY FAMILY, SO GLAD EVERYONE HAD SOME FISH. PRETTY SURE TOM WILL BRING ANOTHER , THEY NEED IT FOR AS YOU SAID LILLIE, THE HUMIDITY FOR THE BABIES. THEY STAY UNDER AUDREY, POOR MAMA !! THEY FOR SURE LOVE HER.THANKS FOR THE INFO TOM, GOOD TO KNOW, I WAS HOPING SOMEONE WAS WATCHING FOR THE TIMING.OFF TO THE GYM , BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND !!

  5. Fish delivery at 1:31 p.m. “MacVisitor” immediately flew back to nest. Audrey feeding it first. M&M did NOT get fed. Whole event lasted less than 10 min. Strange. Must have been really small or mostly eaten from Tom. Couldn’t see.

  6. Tom arrived with fish. Audrey took it and immediately began feeding Montana. The visitor should be arriving shortly for his portion. Maine now being fed.

  7. Hold up a minute! I believe Tom is doing the feeding. Audrey is calling out, maybe to the visitor that dinner is served.

  8. Yay – M&M eating! MacStealy hasn’t shown up yet – probably full from all previous feedings. Haha.

  9. Visitor arrived and pushed Maine aside to get some of the fish. Luckily he/she got some before that.

  10. They are totally calling out for him now. That’s awesome!!! Fully adopted and part of the team!!!

    • Well now I’m not sure. Seems he was alarming to something. Not sure it was the fledgling though.

  11. 3:50pm – Audrey feeding Montana – MacGyver (because he/she Macgyered its way into the nest) is wiping its beak. Maine was chirping at MacGyver but is now being fed by Audrey. There is some fast feeding going on.
    A couple of things noticed since Mac showed up (and I don’t know if this would have coincided with Maine and Montana’s developmental steps anyway) is that Maine and Montana are standing much more (vs squatting) and wingersizing more often. They are most certainly watching MacGyver when he/she is present.
    3:55 – Hey! Tom on the nest w/ everybody!!!! Maine is not eating anymore but Montana getting fed whilst Mac is waiting for a bite.

  12. Maine seems to be yelling at the visitor to share some of what was taken. Being ignored, of course. Maine gives up.and settles down next to Montana. Visitor having a hard time with the tail of the fish.

  13. I was watching and I don’t know which chick is which, other than the intruder, but I saw one of our babies being fed and the newbee……not our other baby chick……..soooooo…….did they ALL get fed?

    • Lori, See the 14 prior log entries
      4:20ish Audrey is near the camera w/ her back to it. MacGyver is next to her facing outwards. The water is shimmering (lots of bright sun here in maryland today) and reflecting off mac’s white chest acting like a strobe effect. Cool looking 🙂

  14. Well Oliver MacGyver Has found the best spot
    in the nest ..The shade from the camera mount.
    To humanize the drama a little.. Don’t you all
    remember when you were a kid and reached a time
    when you wanted more freedom going to the
    park by your self and only coming home when
    it was dinner time, hanging out with your friends
    Still needing a little help getting something to eat
    I feel this is the stage our Oliver MacGyver is
    in now…..How fortunate we are to be witness to this ((-:)
    It is a blessing!!

    • Joan, very sweet post. I agree that it is very possible that’s the stage Oliver is in. Peaceful now. 🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥

  15. Good analogy, Joan. Yes, I do remember. Audrey and Tom have been full of surprises this nesting season. We are so fortunate to have this “bird’s eye view” of nature. The twists and turns at the nest this year have been nothing short of amazing. God Bless these birds.

  16. I’d love to know what these birds are thinking in human terms. I’d also love to know Mac’s story: did something happen to his home nest, mom, dad? Or is he just confused and thinks T&A and his parents and this nest is HIS home nest? Whatever the case, I love the new guy and how he’s integrated in nicely to the family.

  17. Is it my imagination or is Audrey’s making juvie pay his/her way by babysitting gigs? She’s been gone ages! If she is, hey, good for you Aud!

  18. 6:17pm – Audrey came in with a fish – mac tried taking it away and ended up with her foot in his beak. She dropped it and Maine went for it. Mac finally realized her foot was not the fish. He pushed his way to the fish and when Audrey went to take it back Mac pecked at her until she backed off. Guess who’s eating?

    • Mr. McPigglet has taken over dinner tonight, and put up a bit of a fight to get Mr. Fish. The two kids are just standing there watching. Hopefully he’ll leave when his tummy’s full, and Tom will come back with a bigger and better catch for the kids. Ratz!

  19. 6:28 – Maine and Montana politely waiting in front of Mac like they always do when mom has fish. Difference is Mac isn’t sharing. Mac waited too long with one tear and Maine took it right out of his beak. I wonder when (or if) the switch is going to go off in Maine and Montana’s mind that with Mac they are going to have to grab what they can get or have to wait for the next delivery. This has been a very symbiotic, peaceful nest up to this point. Enough food was delivered that Maine and Montana did not have to compete to eat (HA).
    A little more reality since Mac came to the neighborhood.

    • I’m pretty sure that switch is already starting to turn over. I was noticing today that if they wanted to eat bad enough the would get up and be a little more aggressive. They’ll be fine in the long run and better equipped when the real world comes their way. Harmony isn’t always good for nature. It’s good to stay competitive.

  20. this is getting pretty serious, intruder is taking over. Grabbed leg of mom and now she keeps shaking it.

  21. okay – the switch just started to move. Maine (who must be hungry) went over and complained to Audrey while Montana put her back to Mac. Maine went back to Mac. Mac has slowed down in his gorging, and when he decided to scan the horizon Maine went in and grabbed the fish – small skirmish – Mac took back the fish.
    Maine finally gave up THEN Montana got up turned and went to Mac – she put up more of a fight than Maine and managed to get the tail end of the fish away from Mac. She dropped it, looked away and Mac jumped in, took it back and swallowed the tail end quickly.
    All food gone and now Audrey putting up a fuss.

    • From what I’ve read, it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to do for it’s age which I guess is why Audrey doesn’t put up more of a fight.

  22. 7:10pm – red meat fish. Audrey feeding Maine who is complaining the whole time – Audrey getting some bites in too. Good to see Maine getting food – he is the littlest guy. 7:11 Montana just got up but Macsneeky is starting to maneuver towards the middle – he/she stopped. Montana not getting any yet. Maine is closest – location, location, location.
    7:13 Audrey just gave a very alarming call – the babies flattened themselves and Audrey flew off with the fish.
    I’m hungry – haven’t had dinner myself yet………

  23. Audrey did come back with the fish, but is talking big time. Babies still pancaked. No eating going on. When Audrey stopped chirping I heard Tom responding. 7:19pm Audrey feeding herself between chirps

  24. 7:24pm babies popped up at the same time – to mom – Audrey feeding herself. Not a heck of a lot of fish left. Audrey took off with the fish again and landed just as quickly

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