Notes On A Soon To Be Empty Nest From A Soon To Be Empty Nester

Good evening from the very wet Eastern Shore of Maryland!  We had a rockin’ and rollin’ storm here a few hours ago, which was short in duration but long in intensity.  Many of you were commenting about the hail as I was here looking out the window. Although at times it looked like hail, fortunately for our ospreys, it was just incredibly intense rain.  All of our osprey friends seemed to weather the storm just fine, and all have been accounted for (sorry to end a sentence in a preposition, especially to any newspaper editors or English teachers out there).

There has been an abundance of excitement around here for the past couple of weeks.  Our dear foster chicks, Maine and Montana, have both fledged.  They have been entertaining us with their feat of flight, and seem to enjoy flying around together, honing their new found skills.  This is one of my favorite times in osprey season, watching the new fledglings swooping and swirling and marveling at their freedom in the air.   We also had some moments of drama when yet another fledging landed in the nest.  This fourth chick to visit the nest looked very different from Maine, Montana and E.T., having a very dark head.  He hung in there for a couple of hours as Audrey pecked and pushed at him.  The lost fledging sat cowering in the nest with his head hung low, and endured the punishment from Audrey while voraciously clinging to the nest with his talons.  Audrey finally got her way, and the intruder was pushed off the nest and took flight while being closely chased by our fierce momma osprey.  Tom, along with his freshly caught fish, briefly joined in the chase.  Our newest intruder has not been seen since, much to the relief of Tom and Audrey.

I had occasion to ask Craig Koppie about our egg-fostering ospreys and the biological parents of Maine and Montana.  The female who incubated her own three eggs and the two foster eggs is doing fine.  As a matter of fact, another hatched chick from a failed nest was placed in her nest, and all three of her chicks were successfully raised and fledged.  Maine and Montana’s biological parents did not attempt to build another nest on the barge piling.  Even though their exact whereabouts are unknown, no one has any reason to think they are anywhere but on Poplar Island.

We have been taking a crazy number of photographs, and I have decided that the focus of this blog will be to share some of them with you, with lots more to come in later blogs.  As you are all quite aware, the view through the camera has been showing more and more of the empty nest to come.  As Osprey Girl is leaving our little nest in two weeks to begin her freshman year at the University of Delaware, I have started to identify with all of the empty nesters in our midst.  It’s going to be very quiet in all the empty osprey nests and college-bound people nests very soon.  When Maine and Montana are not in their nest, they are not usually very far away.  They like to sit at the usual locations that we have told you about over the last three years.  Montana likes COM’s boat lift and the scraggly stick tree next door.  E.T. seems to favor our neighbor’s dock and swim ladder two houses to the south of us, the scraggly stick tree and COM’s perches.  Maine hasn’t selected a favorite yet, and I see him in various locations.  Please enjoy our photographs.  Remember, you can click on each photo to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure.

I looked outside this evening before the storm, and saw one of the fledglings sitting on the picnic table at the end of our dock.  I grabbed the camera, and tried to capture the moment, but scared everyone off.  The lighting was not very good with the approaching storm, but here is where all three fledglings ended up:

Montana, Maine and E.T. sitting in our neighbor's big tree two houses to the north of us. By the time I was able to get a close-up, a crow had joined the party.

Montana, Maine and E.T. sitting in our neighbor’s big tree two houses to the north of us. By the time I was able to get a close-up, a crow had joined the party.

A close-up shot of the same scene a few seconds later:

A crow has joined the gang in the big tree.

A crow has joined the gang in the big tree.

I love the next series of photographs.  I looked outside a few days ago to see Tom sitting with a fish on our boat lift.  His delectable prize did not go unnoticed by one of our pesky crows:

Crow to Tom:

Crow to Tom: “We need to talk about this fish”

Tom to Crow:

Tom to Crow: “Oh, no we don’t”.


Tom: “Get me away from this crow. I’m outta here”.


Tom: “I saved this from the crow for you, my pretties!”.

A father's work is never done. After leaving the fish for his family, Tom takes off to catch another meal.

A father’s work is never done. After leaving the fish for his family, Tom takes off to catch another meal.

Here is E.T. in some of his favorite hang-outs:

E.T. in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us.

E.T. in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us.

In a wider view, E.T. had some company

In a wider view, E.T. had some company

E.T. loves COM’s perches.  We only have two up this year, the third one was damaged in the ice and has not been replaced:

E.T. on COM's perch

E.T. on COM’s perch

Another visit to the perch by E.T.:

Another visit to one of COM's perches by E.T.

Another visit to one of COM’s perches by E.T.

I have to admit I am not really sure which osprey this is, but it is a cool photo:

The mystery osprey

The mystery osprey

Two more E.T. photographs:

E.T. one-footing it on the perch. Show off!!

E.T. one-footing it on the perch. Show off!!

Beautiful E.T. sitting on the stick tree next door.

Beautiful E.T. sitting on the stick tree next door.

An osprey in disguise:

“Maybe the ospreys won’t notice I am sitting on their electrical box”, thinks the gull

While we are on the subject of gulls:

Gull Photo Bomb

Gull Photo Bomb

Now that Maine and Montana have fledged, we have been able to capture them in and out of the nest:

Maine and Montana on the boat lift

Maine and Montana on the boat lift and boat

Montana on the electric box at the end of the boat lift

Montana on the electric box at the end of the boat lift

Here are a couple of photographs of Montana the day after she fledged:

Montana coming in for a landing

Montana coming in for a landing

Come on, Maine, this is fun!

Come on, Maine, this is fun!

Montana coming in for another landing:

Practice makes perfect!

Practice makes perfect!

Here are some beautiful shots of all three babies and Audrey.

In this photograph, you can really see the difference in the eye color between the fledglings and Audrey.  E.T. is all the way to the left, and Maine is all the way to the right:

Make sure you enlarge this photo and take a look at the eyes. E.T. is all the way to the left.

Make sure you enlarge this photo and take a look at the eyes. E.T. is all the way to the left.

A photograph dedicated to Kathy Berrier, one of our most prolific blog commenters:



E.T. has taken off.  Everyone is wondering where he went:

“Where did he go?” wonder Audrey, Maine and Montana

I don’t have many individual photos of Maine yet, but here is one of them:

Maine on Osprey Girl's boat lift

Maine on Osprey Girl’s boat lift

In my last blog, I wrote about E.T. appearing out of no where when Tom returned to the nest with a fish.  Here is a series of two photographs highlighting what we witnessed:

In the first photo, Tom has just returned to the nest with the bottom half of a nice-sized fish.  E.T., in his usual fashion around that time, came screaming into the nest and caused quite a ruckus:

Tom leaves with the fish. E.T. is confused. Audrey is pissed off. Maine and Montana are pretending they didn't see anything.

Tom arrives with a fish.  E.T. is not far behind.

Tom will not be bullied by a youngster, so takes his fish and leaves.  Audrey is not happy.  Maine and Montana lay low, trying to stay out of the way:

Tom arrives with a fish with E.T. not far behind

Tom leaves with the fish.  E.T. is confused.  Audrey is pissed off.  Maine and Montana are pretending they didn’t see anything.

As the chicks grew older, many of you were worried when they were left alone without parental supervision.  Here are Maine and Montana entertaining themselves while home alone:

Maine and Montana enjoying their new-found freedom

Maine and Montana enjoying their new-found freedom

One of my favorite family portraits of Maine, Montana and Audrey:

Maine, Montana and Audrey

Maine, Montana and Audrey

E.T. and Montana at the end of our dock.  Montana is on the electric box and E.T. is on the lift:

Montana and E.T. hanging out on the electric box and former floating dock ramp lift

Montana and E.T. hanging out on the electric box and former floating dock ramp lift

Getting ready to be chased away by a crazy woman with a camera. Oh, no, not her again!

Getting ready to be chased away by a crazy woman with a camera. Oh, no, not her again!

Here is the last series of photographs for this blog.  Maine and Audrey are in the first of the series, and they are joined by Montana for the last three photos.

In the first one, Audrey and Maine seem to be focused on something above them outside of the nest.  The second photo shows Montana whacking Audrey in the face with her wing after landing.  Check out Audrey’s body language and the expression on her face.  I like the third photo because you can see a flying sparrow just under the nest.  The fourth and last photo in this series shows Audrey on one leg, Montana sitting up in the nest and Maine hunkered down in the nest, probably snuggled down on her favorite glove.

Everyone is looking at something happening outside the nest (probably Mrs. COM trying to snap a few photos)

Someone is arriving!

Stop whacking me in the face, Montana!

Stop whacking me in the face, Montana!

Look carefully under the nest for the downstairs neighbor in flight!

Look carefully under the nest for the downstairs neighbor in flight!

Audrey on one leg, Montana relaxing after flying in and Maine snuggled down in the nest

Audrey on one leg, Montana relaxing after flying in and Maine snuggled down in the nest

I will leave you all with a particularly poignant “Where in the World Are Tom and Audrey” entry.  The photo was submitted by Louise Wisenbaker of Sugar Hill, Georgia.  Louise is retired from Transamerica, and started watching raptor cameras with the peregrine falcon camera on the building in Baltimore, Maryland.  The photo Louise submitted is one of her mother, Polly Wisenbaker, watching the ospreycam with her cat, Baxter.  Polly absolutely loved our ospreys.  The first thing Polly would ask Louise each morning was “Have you checked on the babies”?  Sadly, Polly passed away a few days after this photograph was taken.  We are heartened that Polly was able to enjoy our ospreycam.  Thanks so much for submitting your entry, Louise.

Polly watching the ospreycam with her cat Baxter from Sugar Hill, Georgia

Polly watching the ospreycam with her cat Baxter from Sugar Hill, Georgia

That’s it for now, we are leaving on vacation in three hours, so I guess I will just stay up for the rest of night!  COM and Osprey Girl can drive, and this COMomma will curl up in the back seat with her pillow (a real pillow, not a black glove) and close my eyes!  Stay tuned for some fun blogs coming up!

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man aka COMomma 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!

3,307 thoughts on “Notes On A Soon To Be Empty Nest From A Soon To Be Empty Nester

    • I don’t know who that is, no band. Sounds like ET, looks like ET, it must be! Left behind, perhaps? Oh dear…here we go!

  1. It doesn’t look like there are any juvie feathers at all. Whoever it is has got me doing the “walk like an Egyptian” head dance! 🙂

  2. Hi all, haven’t been able to peek often as of late, a whole week of sitting grandsons, yikes! I needed two days of sleep thereafter. From the chat am I correct?: Tom is still with us and perhaps ET? Audrey, Maine & Montana have left? I thought I did see one of them on nest yesterday or the day before on a quick peek?

    • Hi Janice, I’m exhausted just thinking about watching two little ones for an entire week! bet it was fun though 🙂
      Yes, we believe Tom and possibly ET are still here. Tom, we think was just on the nest a few moments ago. He stayed for about five minutes calling out and then flew off.
      Welcome back, enjoy the day.

  3. Thanks Bella and yes Tom will certainly hang in there with ET but if ET lingers too long I fear he will feel that huge tug to go. Skimming the chat though sounds like everyone agrees that ET has made strides and will be just fine in the migratory world! Again, a great pleasure jumping in this nest so to speak… laughing at my own pun there… from the eggs that weren’t viable to the ‘egg placement’ to ET, such a journey! If anyone still needs an ‘O’ fix, Nellie, TR, Bonnie and Arrow will be with us for a bit at the Nelson Nest…another great success story!

  4. Also, thanks for putting me on to Chance’s nest, sweet little guy, he’ll be there for as long as the weather holds learning the ropes

    • Oh Janice, we found out that beautiful Chance is a girl!
      Also, can you please tell me where to find the history of your nest in BC? I only see and update from 2014 and I would love to know this seasons story. Thank you 🙂

    • Chance might be around until early October, she has at least 2 more weeks to perfect flying and trying to fish, probably more though. It looks like Jersey’s Os are late migrants according to the Wetland’s response to someone here. In general, migration peaks mid Oct but some last till Nov. Some people have commented at another site that they saw ospreys in January, cold winter already set in! I am afraid that, if I retire, I am going to have to be pried off the laptop with a crowbar!


    Remember when Tom lost the fish overboard and the look on his face? well, this is as, if not funnier than that! I’m not sure if the video will be the first thing you see but if not just scroll through the pics until you get to it, honest to goodness it is PRICELESS!!! this little one is so baffled!

      • poor baby! the fish committed suicide without knowing it! Or was it in the nest between the twigs? I can hear the kid whining: daaad! the food did not stay for dinner!! daad!

      • I know, poor thing. Like Ive said, you could hear him/her looking around yelling, daad! daad! the fish is gone, oh he’s gone!
        Ive it does look like the fish went right into the nest! I kept looking to see if I would see it flapping in there.

  6. Bella, that was so funny! One of our talented group should compose new lyrics to :”There’s a Hole in the Bucket”.

  7. haha, funny video, yes that’s our Bonnie looking somewhat baffled and dismayed at loss of her fish… that’s what happens when the inexperienced take delivery of a still wriggling fish!!

    • It was hysterical! Janice. Can you please give me a quick synopsis of this nest so I know who is who? Just Beautiful.

    • That is why our Tom delivers them headless! no way they can wiggle without one. But, they still had the same thing happened. Our fish did end up back in the water, I think.

      • Ive, Yes, you are correct! Our wonderful Tom lost one right over the edge of the nest. I wish I knew where in the blog to find that video, or maybe it was on CC’s FB page, it was soooooo funny! (I’m sure he didn’t think so 😉

  8. UTA posted pics of the nest activity this morning. Thank You! Uta!! That was Tom on the nest at 8:10 with the fish, and ET must have been the juvie there, but Uta didn’t have any pics of ET posted. ET was on the nest from 12:42 til 12:51 calling out, and she said he left shortly after that. She posted some pics of him. So we know that Tom & ET are still around!! They haven’t all deserted us yet !!!

  9. You’re right, the nest is just off the highway so that is vehicle noise but it’s Kootenay Lake you see on the cam, tons of fish. Last year was the tragedy when the male, Nelson was bringing a fish in at dusk, flew between two high voltage wires touching both and that was it for the nest. Nellie had the 3 chicks which she could not provide for after. Columbia Wireless and Nelson Hydro brought buckets of very fresh fish up, she used these but only for a day I think, then 2 chicks died, one was saved, flown to OWL at the coast and she fledged after being flown back to Nelson again and migrated. So we have Nellie, TR (Trial Run) which is a funny little story in itself, Arrow and Bonnie named after two lakes in the area

    • I just don’t understand how they choose where to place these platforms, why so close to wires? and hwys? I know that many die in collisions with vehicles too, in addition to electrocution so how do they keep these platforms in such unsafe areas? I see that too where I live and they have two by a busy hwy, one does not have many trees nearby for fledglings to land. There are plastic covers that some utilities are using to make the poles safe for birds and other critters, anyone in BC working on that?

      • BTW, in Iowa, they have lost 4 juvenile bald eagles to electrocution in the last few years. The raptor organization is working with the utility company trying to prevent future deaths. That is a lot of babies lost

  10. So, this too is a nest near and dear to the heart after so much heartbreak last year, The Kootenays is a beautiful area, lots of sport fishing and vacationers, about a 4.5 hr drive from where I live, all in southern BC. I rather expect that Nellie, the mom will begin her migration within the next couple of weeks but we have a long season here so perhaps longer

    • Janice, thank you for your story and I am so sorry for your loss last year, what a tragedy.
      So the two kids, Bonnie and Arrow are Nellie and TR’s, not fosters? Is there a way you tell them apart? They look so healthy. Do you know if the kids are fishing for themselves yet or not?
      I am still laughing about the fish lost in the nest video, that was one baffled baby.

  11. When Nelson went down last year, they couldn’t figure out what had happened to him, it was a couple of days or so before they found him in brush under the lines… very sad and interestingly, after 2 chicks passed and she stopped using the provided fish, we could see she was going to just sit on nest with the babe until it passed, she was not fishing for herself either which was a big worry… perhaps this is what the O’s do?

    • Oh my gosh how very sad. Yes, all your info was helpful Janice and very much appreciated.
      That was awesome of them to do that to the high voltage lines, in hopes that never happens again. That had to be so difficult to through. We sure do love our Osprey’s as well as our human Osprey family.
      Thank you again.

    • Janis I read that story this year. So sad it said someone heard a boom then he was never seen after that. 😟

  12. Hope this was useful info Bella, the chat is really good as well, do enjoy… just an after thought. After this tragedy, Nelson Hydro wrapped these wires with whatever to make them highly visible and avoid the same thing again

    • I guess that is a wrap on my question! But, hopefully the newly built poles are been done with safety in mind and not waiting to react after a death? That seems to be what we are doing now in the US with the wind farms and cell towers, reacting after millions of bird deaths. Thank you for the synopsis!

  13. Both Bonnie and Arrow on the BC nest, just beautiful! Oh it’s so wonderful to see some young ones in their nest 🙂

    • How many bird cam bookmarks do you have? Wonder who holds the record here? Come next spring, I am going to have quite a few tabs open in my browser. Might need to learn how to have all of them open at the same time on the monitor, like those TVs where you can watch more than one channel at a time. anyone knows?

      • Ive, I know with my posts about the BC babies it would seem I have many bookmarked, but I do not. Janice shared her site this morning and it was so beautiful, and the camera is very clear, and there are still kids! so I saved that one. I am very partial to our Chesapeake family but with the empty nest syndrome in full swing this was a welcome joy to see 🙂 The funny video of Bonnie, one of the juvies losing her fish I the nest is from that site as well. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.

  14. There were a few articles in the local paper and even made to our Kelowna computer news home page. This is where I saw the bit about the hydro co. wrapping the lines I think to make them visible and the problem was that Nelson had a habit of bringing in that last fish of the day at dusk.

  15. As for ID of the juvies, they are not ringed so it is assumed that the females tend to be a bit larger than males thus Bonnie with a more solid dark head from her beak back and Arrow, the probable male has a more broken colouring on his head. Our Mods on the chat site have it down pretty nicely. Bonnie did have more of a speckled chest than Arrow, which I think may have changed a bit as they grew. So with the lovely Chesapeake nest nearly all on journey for this year, our Nelson nest may be an interesting one to watch unfold ’til migration

  16. Our one chick in the Kelowna, BC nest of 2013 never did migrate and we have seen him for two full winters now. We have the enormous Okanagan Lake which hasn’t frozen over since something like 1955! So, with our mild winters guess he saw no point in leaving.

    • Oh how lucky you are to still have one there all year! With very mixed feelings,thanks to global warming, sort of.

    • Lucky indeed! That the pull of migration or instinct is not what makes them leave but the lack of food is a statement to the fact that the instinct to leave is not overpowering in a juvenile. Do you have any adults that have stayed?

  17. We do always have a cold snap but pretty short lived, worried about him that first year but he seems to be able to do it. He is spotted at some point everyday by some of us beside his ‘birth nest’ or on a power pole close by. We get away with it as we are in the very south part of the province… Northern BC is quite a different thing! Brrrrrr. In the Okanagan a cold snap for us is around -28C, not sure what that is F but it would have to remain at that temp for a good long time in order to freeze the lake over… huge thing

  18. -28C = 18.4F and yes, global warming EXTREMELY WORRISOME. This is our El Nino year, we should all be a little concerned

    • I had no idea they could make it at such cold temps. I wonder how often some Osprey’s don’t migrate? Maybe it was just a fluke that he didn’t and said, this isn’t so bad, why on earth should I go through all that effort. I think I’ll hang around 🙂 Yes, I know, way over humanizing again. I have no problem with that 😉

  19. Hello everyone – has been a busy blog day. Back home, and just wanted to let everyone know the spreadsheet with the locations our bloggers hail from is almost done. Then I will sort it by State, and give everyone the numbers.
    BTW Janice MacInnis – I looked through my notes, and did not see your name w/ location. Care to share!
    Anyone else lurking out there – give us a shout out where you hail from!!!
    Ive – I have only Long Island for you – what town if you care to get specific? So far over 50 bloggers let us know where they were from.
    NEXT >>>>>>>>

  20. Hi Ive, just re-read your last post and I see what you mean on the hydro pole issue in Nelson. I think what this is, is that the nest and nest cam is fairly new, tracking and watching the Osprey in this area so I’m guessing the Hydro people hadn’t thought of this type of accident where the O would fly through, miscalculate the area between and then the wings touch each wire. I’ve heard of this happening a couple of times only in the region I live in so let’s hope the companies do all get the idea and wrap these wires to make them highly visible. I get what you mean about ‘after a bunch of deaths’, it’s like the traffic lights that suddenly appear at an intersection but only after a few people have been killed… ooooh.

  21. Love to share Coreygirl, I’m in Kelowna, BC west coast Canada, Okanagan Valley region on Lake Okanagan, warm sunny, hot hot summers, wine growing country and fruit trees not to mention excellent skiing in winter, golfing in summer! Hope no one minds the pitch for tourism haha… also I think Bella asked a bit ago if the chicks in the Nelson nest we placed, no they were laid and hatched onsite!

  22. checking in again on wee Chance, he always seems so alone even with his care team close by. I may have asked this before, was Chance the only egg in this nest?

    • Janice, if you scroll down under the cam pictures, the story of Chance is told, he is the second laid egg out of 3. Only survivor, , which underscores the fragility of this species. In Europe, their plight is even more dire, extinct in many parts but now coming back. I was reading in FB about Spain’s efforts in reintroducing it there. They are so serious, they were seeking to take legal action against hunters that killed a German tagged bird back in 2011. The FB page is in Spanish and sadly has only a thousand likes…is a slow process.

  23. does anyone have info on how an Osprey do live through a cold snap such as -18F, -28C even for a few days? The water ways are open but it is very cold, that is an overnight temp btw. But then if Eagles and Hawks live here all winter long, perhaps it’s not such a strange thing after all?

  24. yes Ive, I have been following the Dyfi Wales nest for the past couple of years and have learned so much about the near extinction and how things are slowly beginning to turn around now in England, Scotland, Wales and so on. I read a sad bit about some Osprey still being shot during migration, just rather a stunner that it takes so much work to get people to realize how important this is and well of course action should be taken against these hunters. Cecil the Lion keeps sneaking back into my mind and I’m grinding my teeth now!

    • Janice, Does Mom or Dad do most of the fishing for Bonnie and Arrow, and will they bring another since only one babe got dinner delivered?

    • I will never understand how some people see a magnificent animal in the wild, land or air, and feel the need to extinguish it to mount it as a trophy. Show it on a wall in their homes. Others are happy with taking multiple pictures or plainly admiring them in their natural environment. I don’t believe it is all ignorance on the part of the killer, there is an enjoyment in killing a magnificent animal, a thrill. That is what makes them scary.

  25. They both bring in an abundance of fish each day, Bella and after that unfortunate loss of her wriggling fish, Bonnie was quite promptly brought another! Very spoiled O’s indeed. At that point Arrow and Bonnie each were feasting on their own fish on nest.

  26. OK, Coreygirl. I’m a lurker, so I’ll come out long enough to tell you that I’m watching from Macon, GA.

  27. yes, Ive, hard to watch all the news reports on this, another today, this guy defending his actions concerning the hunting of Cecil so we just hope the education gets out there and thinking changes as quickly as possible

  28. Bella, I was just saying on the Nelson blog again that I’ve never seen so many fish brought to nest, maybe mom and dad are fattening them up as quickly as possible to send them on their way haha… you see, method in their madness, had enough of Bonnie’s continual demands!

    • They are gorgeous babies, clearly very healthy. They are fattening up alright 😉 Are those salmon? They’re huge fish!

    • Reminds me of Maine. He must have gotten 5 fishes the last time I saw him and was still asking for more! Sister was not around. Tom the dad is some catcher. Someone counted him fishing 5 in 90 minutes!

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