Big Beautiful Babies Bloody Banding Biologist and Other Tidbits From 2015

Good morning from the spectacular Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Well, I thought I had better write the wrap-up blog for 2015 before the 2016 season officially starts.  The camera will be leaving the swan viewing area for the osprey viewing area the week of March 7, just around the corner. I hope you have enjoyed watching our beautiful swans and mooching geese while patiently waiting for the return of Tom and Audrey.  Winter is passing us by, complete with a blizzard and much welcomed visits from Osprey Girl (who made Dean’s List her first semester at the University of Delaware, yippee!).  This official wrap-up blog will touch on some of the highlights of the 2015 season, with special emphasis on the banding operation that took place in July.  For further details and more photos chronicling the 2015 season, you can go back to those blogs to refresh your memory!

As you may recall, we had a very eventful 2015 season. We had drama from the very start, with a flurry of activity surrounding who would be the King of the Castle (not really a castle, but the osprey nest, of course). Calico Tom, the fishing fool, won the honors and became the man of the hour. He performed his pre-fatherly duties with gusto, and Queen Audrey presented Tom and her loyal followers with three lovely eggs. Weeks of breathless anticipation followed, but as the window of opportunity for each egg to hatch passed without new life, a deep gloom fell over the kingdom.

In June, our melancholy was about to come to an end.  Dr. Paul Spitzer, our resident osprey expert and dear friend, suggested that we place a foster chick in need of a home into the nest, with some very specific parameters that needed to be followed as to the age of the chick.  The Chesapeake Conservancy made contact with Craig Koppie, a raptor biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the rest, as they say, was history, with not one chick, but two!

These are our two foster chicks on the day they arrived before they were placed into the nest.  Remember, you can click on each photograph to enlarge it for your viewing pleasure:


Our two new foster chicks!


Our foster chicks, yet unnamed, taking a look around:





Craig Koppie placing the Foster chicks in the nest. Audrey is on high alert


Tom heads back to the nest with a stick.  He had no idea of the surprise in store for him!


What a glorious day in the continuing saga of 2015!


Life went on at the nest.  As usual, COM aka Mr. Fixit, was frequently fixing something at the pole.  He takes very good care of the osprey pole, camera and nest.  We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude for his devotion to our favorite osprey family:


COM adding support to the pole to avoid rotation, which plagued the nest pole during the early part of the season

We certainly had a lot of excitement in July.  The month started with a beautiful summer day:


A beautiful summer afternoon at the nest


We thought the real excitement in July was to be on the 17th with Craig Koppie banding our two foster chicks.  Little did we know what was to occur a couple of days after the banding:


Double trouble-wading out to the nest to retrieve the foster chicks for banding



COM and Craig setting up the ladder



First chick being removed from the nest for banding



First package ready to go down the ladder




OUCH! A big beautiful baby is bloodying a banding biologist. Hey, that would make a great title for a blog…..



Stand back, I’m an eagle!



Don’t drop it!!!



COM is a good helper. One down, one to go



Next victim! On to number two.



Sure wish I knew how to fly, thinks the young osprey



Escape is not an option



Gotcha! Happy Craig, sad osprey.



Birds of a feather flock together, and I am not talking about the ospreys!



COM and friend


Craig Koppie with the red banded chick, soon to be named Montana, who appears to need a manicure



COM and Craig wading back to the nest with precious cargo. Don’t get that camera get wet!!



Montana in nest, Maine ready to go back


I know that we can all agree that the banding of the soon-to-be named, rapidly growing chicks made it incredibly easier to differentiate between the two chicks as the season progressed.  Many thanks to Craig Koppie, raptor biologist extraordinaire and COM, his faithful helper. Photo credits for the banding go to Teena Gorrow, as Mrs. COMomma was at work attempting to fill the college account.  By popular vote later in the season, the red-banded chick was named Montana and the yellow-banded chick was named Maine.  These names were chosen by the camera watchers/blog readers in memory of chicks in Maine and Montana that perished very early in their young lives.

Just as I was getting ready to write a blog about the banding, an interloper appeared at the nest on July 19, just two days after the banding.  We really thought we were through with visiting strangers and drama for the 2015 season, but it was not to be.  Enter E.T., although he wasn’t named at the time:



First photo of the intruder, soon to be known as E.T.  He is at the far right closest to the camera.  Maine and Montana are hunkered down, and Audrey is confused.


Tom arrived back at the nest and a big surprise was waiting, another hungry mouth to feed:



Someone is not happy with the new arrival. Yes, we are talking to you, Tom



E.T.’s first day in his new digs. The whole family is perplexed, even E.T.


The working theory on the arrival of E.T. was that he was a fledging from another nest in the area who landed with us and decided he liked the new digs.  Our E.T. gave us oodles to talk about and much entertainment for the rest of the season.

Here are some other favorite photos taken in and around the nest during July 2015:



Super Full Moon rising over the nest. One of COM’s marked sticks is making its presence known




The same full moon as the evening progressed. One of our infamous Full Moon Dock parties was in full swing at the time, with lots of howling going on!



July 2015 Full Moon. Check out the glowing eyes!



Words cannot do this photo justice-Full Moon over the nest with the moonlight reflecting on the water



July thunderstorm-Another one of Osprey Girl’s amazing photos



July thunderstorms. Osprey Girl took some incredible photos that night.  This one includes the osprey pole, complete with osprey


The summer continued with Maine, Montana and E.T. learning to fish and fend for themselves before heading on their arduous trip south.  We worried at times if they would ever perfect their fishing skills, and the youngsters did not let us down:



Learning to fish successfully. Two of our juveniles in the big tree, each with their own catch. The crows are looking for a hand out.


Oh, bittersweet September.  Some of our friends were on their way, but there were still some ospreys around.  We consoled ourselves with views like this behind the nearly empty nest:


September sunrise behind the nest pole. Spectacular!


October was a fun month.  We had our end of season gathering, aptly named The Flocking.  The many attendees ate and drank and told tales of the summer.  Dr. Spitzer spoke to us, and was as entertaining as ever. A poster put together by one of our faithful camera watchers/blog readers, Featherdog, was a popular item.


image 1

The happy Flocking attendees! Some had already left before the group photo was taken.



Dr. Spitzer regaling us with tales of the osprey. He is a plethora of osprey knowledge, and we are so fortunate to have him in our corner!


There were always new and spectacular things to see at the secret location, even after our ospreys went South for the winter.  Here is a favorite December photograph:



A rare December rainbow at the secret location. Take a look at the extremely high tide, up to the bottom of the dock


All good things must come to an end, as our 2015 season did.  We leave you with a scene from December:



A December sunrise, complete with swans, geese and COM’s dock Christmas tree.  The empty pole looks so forlorn.


So another successful season came to a close, our most unusual yet.  From March through October, we laughed, cried, oohed, aahed, smiled, frowned, wondered and worried.  In another couple of weeks, the cycle will begin again.  Who knows what 2016 will bring?  Will our faithful Audrey and our Calico Tom return to start another family?  Or will we be met with some new osprey friends fresh back from their South American travels?  Stay tuned, we will know very soon!

Thanks for staying with us, and we look forward to another wild and wonderful season with you, our faithful camera watchers and blog readers!

We remain,

COM, Mrs. COMomma and Osprey Girl

We hope to see you all at the annual Welcome Back Osprey Party on April 19.  Craig Koppie will be the speaker.  Details to follow.










123 thoughts on “Big Beautiful Babies Bloody Banding Biologist and Other Tidbits From 2015

  1. Thanks for the early birthday wishes Featherdog and Bella!! That made my day and since I won’t be on the computer all weekend, I get to celebrate now, haha. By the way Kathy – I am also turning 69 and it stinks!!!. I know it’s only a number, but when you think like a 29 year old it’s very bothersome. Of course, my body feels like an 89 year old!
    I know I don’t say much here because I only check in at work during the week (my home computer is on the fritz), but I do keep up with you guys every day, and love the conversations. You all seem like a really wonderful bunch of people and I’m so happy that you’ve gotten so friendly with each other.
    I’ll be back in touch on Monday – have a wonderful weekend all!!

    • Congrats, Jeanne! Hubby (75 in Aug ’16) says his body is doing to him now what he did to it sixty years ago!! I’m still in the mode where my brain says ‘oh, you can do that!’ and the body says ‘nah…, too much high mileage!!’ ~ then it proves it to me!
      Please continue to post your comments! That’s how we’ve become such good friends! It seems our lives have become interwoven over the winter. Please join the fabric of our love!
      For the Love of the Birds ~ currently in Osprey ‘Anticipation’ Mode & soon to be in TaTa Tundra Swans… FD

  2. Hola! Much ado about nothing. Got just a couple of inches this morning. BUT we are supposed to go into the 70’s by next week……….planet………broken……….
    Happy early birthday Jeanne! The swans were wonderful to see this morning. Bird wing hugs to all, and have a great weekend. I ordered butterfly bushes last month – they are not scheduled for delivery until mid-April, but I am so looking forward to getting them in the ground! Want more to see Audrey! For the love of the osprey! 😎

    • That’s great, CoreyGirl! Just be careful weeding under and near them next year because they drop lots of seeds in the fall. Free new plants!! Butterflies love “Joe Pye’ (??) weed. It gets dull looking flower balls on 4-5′ stalks. My yard guy pulled all of mine out because he though they were “weeds” (they are). I get/see more butterflies on them than on the butterfly bushes ~ go figure! FD

  3. Hi Everybody! I finally got to visit the GoFundMe page for CCs Great Blue Heron Rookery CAM. Great idea. I shared it on FB (for Hubby since I don’t FB). Shares: 333 so far. They need lots more bucks… Here’s the site:

  4. Thanks for the link to the donation page, Featherdog. I just donated also. I watched the little video and those are going to be some loud birds. I’m really hoping they eat only fish like the osprey. I saw the dock early this morning and thought it looked funny. Also no swans, didn’t occur to me I was seeing snow. Saw the swans later in the morning when the snow became obvious. This is a popular day for birthdays I guess. It’s my oldest daughter’s b’day, makes me feel old! I’ll be 69 too, later this year. I am really looking forward to Audrey’s return along with the rest of you!


  6. My computer has made this site unaccessible ever since we heard from Mrs. Com and I second all that has been posted about the wonderful pictures and memories from 2015. Absolutely amazing. Thanks so much, Mrs.Com! Congratulations on making the Dean’s list, Osprey Girl and happy birthday, Jeanne!
    I, too, sent a donation for the Blue Heron Cam the Conservancy is setting up. It’s obvious I’ll get little else done this spring and summer with so much happening rigtht here on my screen.
    Thanks, Natalie, for keeping me filled in when I couldn’t access the blog.
    Fingers crossed that our friends will have a safe journey back to their nest here in Maryland. I told my friend who came today to fix my computer that this was the most important site on my list.

  7. JEANNE; Happy, Happy Day–even though I know you won’t be reading this until Monday. Hope you had a great birthday weekend.

  8. Happy Birthday Jeanne!!! It’s just a number they say….right.
    Cold but sunny today here in B’more. I’m starting to pack…heading to Amelia Island, FL on Wednesday I may get to see some Osprey’s! It is an annual trip the guys go to a car show at the Ritz, girls GO SHOPPING!! Can I just say SHOES.
    Haven’t checked on any sites as of now will do later off to get a pedi. Have Fun flap those wings and give plenty of Bella 🤗S

  9. Hi Everyone… a bit chilly today – perfect day for packing for Florida FF!
    Eagles are hatching all over the place on cams – you can check here for updates – and an ‘egg watch calendar.’
    Also, you may want to keep a close eye on Eastern Shore, MD’s weather – sometimes when the wind is coming from the South (today!) the O’s may hop on a thermal and head this way. (Found this info on Dr. B’s site: Ospreytrax… 2 of the O’s that he’s tracking are on their way!)
    Haven’t seen or heard any Osprey yet – but am leaving the volume up on the Osprey cam… just in case someone flies by!
    I’m sooooo ready for Spring!
    Stay safe, everyone! 🙂

  10. Good Morning Everyone…does anyone remember the app from last season that enabled some of us to have audio for the webcam? My iPad does not seem to be able to relay the audio. The app has a plump bird in the picture! I see the swans today, beautiful but no sound 😓!

    • Hi Lillie…yes!!! I could not come up with that name. Is the camera up and running yet? I saw the swans but for 3 days the site has come up blank. Don’t want to miss any activity!! Thanks again for reminding me of Puffin!

  11. Good Morning All…just checking in; not a great deal happening here on Long Island. All our animal babies seem to be doing well and I just saw the beautiful swans, probably for the last time, since the camera is about to be moved this week. But that’s a good thing, because we know what that means.

  12. A very good morning to all my wonderful friends,
    I came across this site by mistake this morning, I have never heard of “Mr. President” & “The First Lady” they are eagles that have returned to DC in 2015 and raised one baby, it is the first time since 1947! so very exciting. I sent you the home page because as the pictures scroll through, you will see that Mr.Koppie took one of the pics! There is a link for the CAM at the top of the page. The First Lady laid her eggs in February, so anytime now we will have eaglets!
    It is a beautiful day in Florida, warming up nicely.
    Enjoy your Sunday and don’t forget your amazing SMILE! and do some flapping for FF! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Good Morning! ’bout time for the Tundra Swan-to-Osprey switchover! I can tell there’s been a change(s) to the software because SOME of us (not me) have sound again… Is anybody else having to wait a long time for the page to refresh? This blog seems to take a great deal of time longer than before. One thing may be that the pictures are triple (or more) the size usually posted. That by itself can cause the long delay to load/refresh the page…
    MIL/SIL update… I’ve had a cold that’s driving me crazy for the last two weeks and a lower back that just won’t fall in place so I haven’t been to visit/care for MIL. We’re working on Item #9 (at the very least) of where I anticipate a need, tell SIL, she ignores then screams at me because she has to deal with it ~ on an emergency/crisis basis ~ when she could have prepared for it.
    I brought a key-code entry lock ~ one that uses either a key or a code to let someone in on February 11th. I told SIL to get maintenance to install it. She didn’t believe it necessary & so didn’t get it done. Thursday, she was told the aide would be off this w/e & another would be sent by the agency. SIL thinks the agency will give a key to her (nope). She calls screaming at me because she has to spend Friday night there so she can let her in Saturday morning @ 7AM! This is somehow my fault… No, I refused to accept responsibility for it. I told her GET THE LOCK INSTALLED! She poses that it’s not necessary because the relief aide now has a key. I asked her what happens when either aide’s car breaks down or gets sick and a substitute needs access…
    SIL refuses everything I tell her she needs to do. MIL is eligible for up to $1,100 a month in aide-assistance from the VA (plus many more benefits) but she’s dragging her feet acquiring the documentation.
    I’ve stopped ‘doing’ but still give her a heads-up on the run away freight train that’s about to run over her. She ignores the advice at her own peril.
    Remember the issue of verifying MILs medications? She didn’t do that either & the home Heath Nurse found her B/P extremely low. Now, her meds are changed… Stupid, stupid, stupid! You can bet that if SIL EVER needs/gets into a similar position, I won’t be her Champion!
    The waiting will soon be over and the Birds will be back! YIPPEE! I’ll be glad to see them again!
    For the Love of the Birds ~ currently in Osprey ‘Anticipation’ Mode and soon-to-be in TaTa Tundra Swans…. FD

    • OH FD, so sorry for your stress….that is why you have a cold and back issues. Please take care of yourself FIRST! WE NEED YOU!


  15. Hi! Maybe the cam is down because they’re getting ready for Osprey??? Blog said ‘week of March 7…”
    Wishful thinking? 🙂

  16. Good Morning!! Spring is so close my favorite season of all.
    Checked on Bei Bei so cute following mom around.
    I miss seeing the swans😕 But happy that it means closer to seeing our family.
    The Pink Shell Osprey nest.. 2 babies so cute this morning yapping for food…mom said shhhhh and sat on them. LOL
    Have fun today!!! I only have today and tomorrow then I will be in the sky flapping my wings!!

  17. Kathy: The cam is down. It is probably in the process of being moved–getting ready for Audrey and Tom.

  18. Good Morning all you Birdies
    We have Rain, thunder and lightning here in Long Beach
    CA.. Hurray!! But the negative, is the dilemma wondering
    whether to go to my exercise class or to stay in my cozy
    little home… Need to go!! After the Doughton (SP?) Abby
    Party last night I need to go!!.. Did any one watch? I was
    satisfied with the out-come .. So glad Daisy came to her
    senses and Lady Mary redeemed herself .
    The Birdies here are all hunkered down in the Camilla and
    Holly bushes ((<:)}

    • Joan, I don’t know if you know that you should only use the ENTER key at the end of a paragraph. WordPress uses what’s called “word-wrap” which means that the sentence will wrap automatically to the next line at the end of what looks the end of a line in the entry box. Example: all I entered before this used no ENTER key. Now, I will hit ENTER to move to the next paragraph…
      This is now the second paragraph. I formatted some of the “2015 Osprey Season Yearbook” over the weekend. Your entry lines all end with the ENTER key which artificially elongates the entry.
      I knew the Yearbook was going to be a huge project since we all have a tendency to post lots of Comments but it’s really a ‘gargantuan’ project. It’s really hard not to read the Comments while I am formatting (3,307 last night)!! There are so-o-o-o-o many memories! It will be a great keepsake when I finally get done with it!
      I truly hope they get a new camera w/ INFRARED (see in the dark) technology! Wouldn’t THAT be a pleasant surprise?
      For the Love of the Birds ~ currently in Osprey ‘Anticipation’ Mode and in TaTa Tundra Swans…. FD

  19. Hi to all and well wishes from my new osprey friends appreciated 🎀🎀at this time I will be reading blog but won’t be posting for a while as our next journey is occurring 🎏🎏for the love of the birds. Safe travels Audrey and Tom🌈🌈🌈moe

    • Praying for both Gene & you that you both find peace and happiness! Please remember to take care of yourself ~ The Caregiver! Many, many HUGS! Come back soon… FD

  20. Hello to all my special birdie friends!
    Hi Moe! I will pray everyday for you and Gene that your journey is a smooth and peaceful one. Please take it easy as possible, he is your Superman! And you, his Rock. Please let us know as soon as you can how everything is going, we will miss you terribly. 💕

  21. Have a wonderful day everyone! SMILE at a stranger, it will make you and them feel beautiful 🌹 🐥🐥🐣🐣

    • Bella, I LOVE smiling at a stranger with one of those all-knowing, but not snarky, grins! I’ve done that then had the wife/girlfriend come ask me how I know him… It was funny then but too scary to do now! Fun memory, though!

  22. I’m back! Thanks again to everyone for the birthday wishes. The only exciting thing I did was go out to breakfast with the kids and grandkids and had grilled sticky bun french toast! Can’t get much better than that! Take care everyone and looking forward to the 70 degree weather later this week!!!

  23. Big News! Osprey sighting in Grasonville today. I spotted an osprey on my way home from the grocery store. Grasonville is close to T& A’s nest – about 5 – 7 miles. It won’t be long. I hope they hurry with the camera. I hope everyone has a great day.

    • that is good news! We have been donating to the projects fighting pesticides application and that are planting milkweed along migratory paths! The right kind of milkweed, whatever that one is! Thanks for the update. I needed to hear that.

  24. Thanks Feather!!!! I clicked in to the ospreycam about an hour ago, and it is still clocking!!! ANTICIPATION!!!! We most certainly will probably be seeing the cam over platform any day/hour/minute now!!!
    AND, oh yes, I was watching the Downton Abbey conclusion. Soooooo glad they ended all on happy notes for everyone. I was a big crybaby!
    Bird wing hugs to all!!! For the love of the osprey! 😎

  25. Hello again to all of you — I have been missing you all for a while (only Granddaughter was married Jan. 9th, much to do and much fun). Thanks to all the COM’s for those grand storm pics, and of the banding!! And kudos to Osprey Girl on making the Dean’s List! And Joan, enjoy the rain and stay safe. Can’t wait for the osprey drama to begin.

  26. 10 more days till Audrey returns…
    …10 more days till Aud… (Mar 7)
    Mark one off as dawn arrives…
    …NINE more days till Aud! (Mar 8)

    25 days till Tom returns (Mar 7)
    25 days till Tom,
    I just can’t wait (& hope it is sooner)
    Until that date and
    There’s no more days till Tom!

    For the Love of the Birds ~ currently in Osprey ‘Anticipation’ Mode and TaTa Tundra Swans…. FD


  28. Hello dear friends,
    I too am eagerly waiting for our feathered friends to return, I purposely did not get involved with any other cam site this winter, only the occasional peek at E7 and E8, because Uta posts lots of updates, and Kathy worries about little E8, so I was worried a little too. I was wondering though, I think the Peregrine Falcon mated about this time last year?? I wonder if they will mate on the same ledge again this year.

    Moe and Gene, my thoughts and prayers are with you both, I believe all will be well, I thank God you have each other.

  29. The falcon site states they’ve been nesting on that ledge for the past 35 years so the odds are they’ll do it again. I have been seeing an adult there by itself periodically.

  30. Good morning! Getting excited for my annual trip to Amelia Island FL. My sister and niece(she is 10 yrs younger) I always say that because when I say I’m going with my niece people think a “kid”. Well we have such a good time while the men go to see the cars. I will check in but not as much. Flap those wings, have fun, and 🤗
    Prayers for all and our birds!

  31. Good morning to all of my amazing COFriends!
    No CAM this morning, so I assume we are very close to Audrey making the platform her home for her little family, I CAN”T WAIT!
    Prayers to All and even more SMILES! Have a wonderful day! 🙂 🙂 🙂


  33. Hello everyone! It has been a strange weather season here in Maryland to say the least! In southern Md we had 18inches of snow, then bitter cold, then rain, rain…Then the groundhog saw his shadow and voila! 8 more inches of snow! Now…it will be 70 degrees + much of this week! I am looking forward to return of Tom and Audrey and whoever else shows up! 😎

  34. Still no camera for me either!!! I believe it is over 70 degrees in central Maryland…… I am in the beginning throes of a kick butt cold that has started making its rounds in my office. I having soup – what a weird day!
    Regards to all – for the love of the osprey 😎

  35. Good day everyone! 61 here, 70 tomorrow and I heard my first Canada Goose honking his/her way back home from migration this morning! Coreygirl, you kick that cold right back!! FD thanks for the count down. I can’t wait either.

  36. omgoodness, it’s so beautiful outside, Fran have safe travels, be careful girlie, you are probably just getting healed up from the last excursion. Have fun sweetie-pie!

    Susan, you are so right, this weather has been all over the place, hopefully we are on our way to Spring now…

    Kathy, I’m quite sure your prayers have helped little E8, I think he’s going to make it! He’s learned to snatch and grab the food and weave and duck to avoid some bonking.

    Coreygirl- feel better soon babe, take care of yourself!

    Hello Bella! 🙂

  37. Hello everyone…it feels as if I’ve been away for years instead of just a few days. I’ve missed you all – and so many of you have so much going on. I’m seeing a lot of new names as the anticipation grows for the start of the new Osprey season. FF have a safe trip and stay well; hello KATHY and Lillie and FD; and Maureen, even though you will be away for a while you are in our hearts. Bella, a question: are you at all near the Pink Shell resort where the new osprey chicks are? We are expecting some nice sunny weather here on Long Island. I see we have another Barbara joining us…where are you from? Enjoy the rest of the day dear friends.

  38. Oh! Suzie Hart, thank you for refreshing you for refreshing my memory about the falcons, I do recall that now. I have noticed they seem to be hanging out more on the ledge.

    Barbara and Barbara, we missed you too, the excitement is building…looking forward to our favorite feathered friends returning home, I guess they consider this nest their home??

    Have a nice evening folks!

  39. Breaking News! We’ve just heard from Mrs. COMomma that there is an osprey on the platform this evening eating a big fish! Perhaps with morning’s light she’ll be able to determine if it might be Tom or Audrey!

  40. Just saw the CC Facebook post…pretty exciting news! Can’t wait to hear from Mrs. COMomma tomorrow to see if she can see who it is!!

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