Patience Is A Virtue

Good evening from the finally Spring-like Eastern Shore of Maryland.  After being able to write the last two blogs during the light of day, I am back to authoring my blog at night.  And what a great night it is!  After patiently waiting for the first egg to be laid, Tom and Audrey now have two!  The first was laid very late on the night of April 17, and the second egg was laid around dinnertime on April 20.  This is a little later than last year, when Audrey laid her first egg on April 12 and her second one on April 15.  It remains to be seen how many eggs will grace our nest over the next few weeks.  We certainly know that Tom has given his all to fertilize all these eggs.  He has been an enthusiastic donor of osprey sperm to be sure!  So we just need to have a little more patience before we have the final egg count.  Ospreys will generally lay 2-4 eggs in a clutch, usually 2-3 days apart with an occasional outlier.



Tom making his sperm donation. A different view than you are used to seeing



As copulation doesn’t last long in the osprey world (the old quantity over quality school of thought), I was able to snap a couple of photos before the opportunity was over



Tom and Audrey smoking a cigarette after their interlude (ha, ha, not really kids). Tom loves the high ground



Tom is finished with his pre-fatherly duties, and takes off to the north


Typically, osprey eggs will be incubated for 5 to 6 weeks, or 35 to 42 days.  In our nest, the most common incubation period has been 39-41 days.  As the eggs are laid in intervals, they will also hatch in intervals.  But we are getting way ahead of the game!  By the time the next blog is published, we will know what the egg count will be for the 2016 season.  Then the waiting will really begin!



This is what Audrey looks like from our backyard while in the nest incubating her eggs. You can see how low and deep she snuggles down in the nest


There never seems to be any shortage of drama in this nest, does there?  The big excitement since the last blog (other than our 2 new eggs, of course) was the plastic bag that Audrey brought back to the nest.  She managed to get the bag tangled around one of her legs, much to the consternation of all of us.  Here are some photos that were taken shortly after the bag was noticed:


It was one of those windy days when Audrey brought the bag back to the nest. Before it was attached to her leg, the bag kept blowing in her face



“What the heck is this thing” thinks Audrey, looking quizzically at the bag



Audrey seems a little annoyed at the bag as she tries to get it in place for use in the nest



Right in the middle of the bag drama, Tom decides to bring Audrey the bottom half of a fish. What’s a girl to do? Fly to a piling with bag and fish. The bag is now firmly wrapped around her leg.



You can clearly see the bag handle wrapped around Audrey’s left leg.



Audrey can multi-task with the best of them. Poop, eat fish and maneuver a plastic bag wrapped around your leg.



Audrey is either looking at me for help or getting ready to get out of Dodge


Tom did seem concerned about Audrey’s plight.  He brought her the fish and she took off with it and the bag. Tom tried to get close to Audrey while she was attempting to eat the fish with the bag attached to her leg.  He landed on the ground near the piling, which is unusual to see:



Tom on the ground close to the piling where Audrey is eating her fish.  He seems to know that something is not quite right



Another photo of Audrey with the bag attached and fish. It was not a flimsy plastic grocery bag, but a heavier duty, larger bag from a retail store



Audrey has had enough of Mrs. COM stalking her, and takes off with her fish and the bag firmly wrapped around her left leg.



Audrey landing back at the nest still trailing the bag.


After a fitful day and night for all of us, human and avian, Audrey managed to pick at the bag until she got rid of it.  All’s well that ends well, I guess!  But we did have some nervous moments until the coast was clear.

I have been working many odd hours the past few weeks, necessitating early departures from the house, like at 4:15 a.m.  When I leave under cover of darkness, it is not under cover of silence.  There is nothing like the sound of a squawking, hungry female osprey (not naming any names here) in the wee small hours of the morning.  We are probably not the most popular people on the street when our neighbor’s bedroom windows are open at night!

Our downstairs birdie neighbors are also back.  The sparrows who live in the basement apartment under the nest have been busy flitting around stealing bits of grass from Tom and Audrey’s stash.  They are a cute little addition to our viewing pleasure, don’t you think?

After what seemed to be a slow start, our Calico Tom seems to be retaining his fishing fool status.  The interesting thing is that neither COM or I have seen Tom actually catch a fish this season.  He always shows up with the back half of a fish for Audrey, but his whereabouts while obtaining his delectable delights remain a mystery.  Tom must have a hidden fishing hole somewhere near the secret location.



Audrey with a tender fish morsel at her favorite dining spot, the electrical box at the end of our dock



Digging in



Yummy, this is one of my favorite pieces!



While Audrey was enjoying her free meal, Tom was keeping watch from the boat lift


Here are a couple more photos for your viewing pleasure.  All of the photos in this blog were taken since the last blog was posted:



Audrey on the electrical box after finishing a fish meal. Notice she is standing on only one leg



Our beautiful Tom and Audrey in the late afternoon sun before the first egg was laid


I want to take a moment to thank you all for continuing to follow our blog and watch the ospreycam.  Comments may now be posted on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page.  In case you were wondering, we have almost half a million views of the blog since its inception in 2013 with over 91,000 viewers from all over the world.  I will keep you up to date on our numbers as the season continues.  In the next blog, I will let you know where some of our viewers are watching from around the world.

The hour is late, so I will end for now.  Until next time, we remain-

COM, Mrs. COM 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!




And The Weather Gods Were Angry

**  Notice  **

While we appreciate the overwhelming support, enthusiasm and interest in Tom and Audrey, as well as this blog, it has reached the point that we do not have the time or resources required to maintain the comment section. We hope that you understand and continue to enjoy the webcam and the opportunity to see these iconic birds up close and personal. 


Good afternoon from the cold, windy, rainy, sleety, snowy Eastern Shore of Maryland.  I feel like we are in a time warp back to February.  It has not gone unnoticed by most of you that we have had less than stellar weather for the beginning of our 2016 osprey season.  The winds over the past ten days have been relentless.  It is truly amazing that our faithful ospreys have been able to build such a beautiful nest given the adverse conditions they have had to face.  The weather prediction for tonight is for more subfreezing windchills and ferocious winds.  Hang in there, Tom and Audrey!  It is April after all, we are bound to get some true Spring weather shortly, aren’t we, Mother Nature?  Pretty please, Mother Nature, with sugar on top?

Since I last wrote, some of the head scratching has stopped, but not all.  Our wonderful Calico Tom has made his way back to the secret location.  He defended his nest admirably during an aerial battle on March 31, and chased off the mysterious stranger.  Audrey seemed happy to have her man back, and the couple got down to some serious nest building and egg fertilizing.  The nest has really come a long way since Tom has returned.  Little by little, it has grown and been lined with grasses and other soft stuff, ready for some egg action.  COM has put out dozens of sticks, some of which have been scooped up and some of which remain laying in the wet grass, waiting for their moment in Osprey Architectural Digest.  A newly-taped red stick was plucked from the backyard for the nest on April 8 and is in full view for the time being.

Speaking of the nest, there has been some discussion of late in the blog comments about our annual nest removal at the end of each season.  This action was recommended to us by osprey experts, and we have heeded their advice ever since we have had a nest at our location starting in 1995.  There has never been a problem with a new nest being built.  There are two reasons for the old nest removal.  The first reason is that the pole and platform could not withstand a nest that continually grew bigger and bigger.  The bigger the nest, the more windage and chance for damage.  You may have seen photographs of very large nests that have gotten bigger and bigger for years, or even seen some in person.  There is a very large nest on the southwest side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as you start over from the toll plaza.  Our little pole and platform could not remain upright with a nest that size.  The second reason for removing the nest annually is to help control the parasite population that would have access to our osprey family.  Our pole and platform have provided a suitable nesting site for over twenty years, so we will continue to remove the nest at the end of each season.

There has also been some discussion in the blog comments regarding our pole and platform.  Since the original pole went up in 1995, we have replaced the pole and platform three times.  Two of the three replacements were in back-to-back years, 2014 and 2015. We had to replace the poles and platforms due to ice and wind over the winter that damaged the pole in 2014 and took the pole down entirely in 2015.  If you go back to the early blogs from those two seasons, there are many photos of the pole and platform being replaced at the beginning of those two seasons.

As with the last blog, I have been writing this one during the day, which is unusual for me.  I have had the opportunity to look out the window as I write, and have run outside a few times to snap a few photos for you.  Tom and Audrey have been spending a lot of time together today.  They have been a very cute couple to watch:


Tom and Audrey hanging out on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us




A close-up of Audrey on the swim ladder shown from afar in the last photo



A close-up of Tom from the same far-off photo


A little while later, Tom and Audrey left that location, and moved over to our dock.  Audrey had a piece of fish that Tom had brought her:


Tom (on the boat lift) and Audrey (on the electric box) on our dock. He is not letting her out of his sight today


As I was walking through the kitchen later in the afternoon, my eye caught something outside that I had never seen.  Sometimes I feel like some of my photos are repetitious, but this was a new one on me:



Long view of Tom and Audrey together on the swim ladder two houses to the south of us



Audrey is asking Tom why they left warm South America to come to Maryland.  He looks a little sheepish, knowing he had three more weeks in the warm sun than Audrey, who came back early to start working



Tom doesn’t have an answer for her, and decides to keep his mouth shut. They both look cold and wet


Many of you have been wondering where Tom and Audrey have been spending their time during this bout of very unusual nasty spring weather.  The below photos show an unusual place for them to hang out.  I noticed them out there right after the start of this windy period:



This is the first thing I noticed when I started looking around for Tom and Audrey on a very cold, blustery spring day


I tried to get a little closer with the camera:



I quietly approached, and was able to get closer to them


After a while, Tom decided he wanted to be closer to Audrey:



Tom gets closer to Audrey on the riprap. I was surprised they let me get close, although I was using a very long lens



Audrey is trying to tell me something. I’ll bet it wasn’t nice


Audrey loves to sit in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us, usually up near the top.  During this cold windy spell, she has been sitting way down in the bottom of the tree, something I had never seen before:



Audrey sitting way down low in the scraggly stick tree



A closer view of Audrey low in the scraggly stick tree


This is where Audrey usually sits when in the scraggly stick tree:



Audrey in the scraggly stick tree up near the top having a stare-down with Mrs. COM


Audrey always looks so regal at the top of the scraggly tree:



Audrey is such a regal osprey!


Tom has been bringing Audrey some delicious cold fish meals.  Here she is on our boat lift with her morsel:



Audrey on the boat lift with a snack


It is not unusual when we have strong winds from the north or west and a low tide to have the water blown out of the bay and leave us with an exposed sandy bottom.  With the very cold weather, sometimes the bottom will freeze.  This is the water behind our house a few days ago, not a typical spring phenomenon at the secret location:



The water has blown out and left us with an exposed bottom and caused some freezing.


The nest is really starting to look good.  Tom and Audrey have been working very hard on it.  Here are some photos of the nest from the backyard:



Tom and Audrey in the nest. Some of the first marked sticks are visible at the bottom of the nest




Tom decides to move to the nest support in case he needs to make a quick getaway



Tom is on the support keeping a close eye on Mrs. COM. Audrey is nonplussed


You would think Tom and Audrey would be used to me stalking them by now.  They seem to be getting better, but I am still an unwelcome intruder:



Tom and Audrey minding their own business. This is a great shot of Tom’s buff feathers on the back of his head



Let’s see how close Mrs. COM can get before someone relocates



That was close enough for Tom. He makes a hasty departure, leaving Audrey alone on the nest. You can see why Dr. Spitzer nicknamed him Calico Tom!



Audrey is all alone on the nest. Did you have to chase him off, Mrs. COM, he just got here!


Well, I think that is enough for today.  I hope you have enjoyed the new photographs which were all taken since the last blog was published.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the high wind and freeze warnings expire quickly, and we all (human and avian) can enjoy some warm Spring days really soon!

Until next time, we remain-

COM, Mrs. COM and Osprey Girl


It’s not too late for members of the Osprey Club to register for the Welcome Back Osprey gathering on April 19, 2016 from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, 80 Compromise Street, Annapolis, Maryland.  Speakers will be Craig Koppie and Teena Gorrow, who will be talking about their soon-to-be published new book featuring Tom and Audrey.  Please go to for details.

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.  Thank you!