Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Good afternoon from the sunny, cool Eastern Shore of Maryland!  There has been a beehive of activity here at the secret location since my last blog.  The partnership between the Chesapeake Conservancy, Explore.org, the Crazy Osprey Family and Investigative Options, Inc. is up and running, and has generated much interest in our favorite Chesapeake Bay osprey couple.  A hearty hello to all of our new viewers, and welcome back to our faithful friends who have been with us in previous seasons.  I thought I would use this blog to update the action at our nest and address many of the observations made by our new followers.  I know you are all wondering when the first egg will be laid, so here are some quick stats from last season.  Audrey arrived on March 8 and Tom arrived on March 31, 2016.  The three eggs were laid on April 17, 20 and 23.  This year, Audrey arrived on March 21 and Tom arrived on March 25.  I will leave you to ponder possible egg-laying dates.  Maybe some of you can start an egg-laying pool!  Hopefully, these tidbits of information will assuage some of your concerns. So without further adieu, our 2017 blog season continues!

At 12:02 a.m. on March 21, an owl was observed sitting on the platform.  Although said owl was a beautiful bird, his/her presence caused some alarm in the COF (Crazy Osprey Family), as we lost a two day old chick and an unhatched egg to an owl early last season. We sent the camera stills to our favorite osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer and our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie, who each confirmed that our late night visitor was indeed a Great Horned Owl.  They both expressed concern about the presence of the owl after the incident last year.  So our Osprey Protector and Defender, Roger, came out of his winter quarters and took over his watchful duties.  COM (Crazy Osprey Man) was at the ready, and prepared Roger for placement at the end of the dock.  But before Roger was in residence, at 6:00 p.m. that very day, our dear Audrey returned to the secret location.  By the time Audrey was back, our swans were on their way north for the nesting season.

 

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Audrey back at the platform. This photo gives you some perspective what the pole and platform look like from the dock.

 

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A closer look at Audrey resting quietly after her journey. She doesn’t rest quietly too often, she must have been really tired!

 

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A cold and windy day after Audrey arrived back. She was probably wondering why she left her winter digs so soon.

 

In order to protect Audrey, COM worked into the darkness to get Roger on duty.  He was deployed at 8:32 p.m. on that dark, cold, windy night!  Thanks, COM, your moniker is well-deserved!

 

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Roger back in action for the 2017 season.  Note the empty platform and camera in the background.

 

With the return of Audrey, the Tom watch was officially underway.  There was a brief osprey stop-over on March 23/24, with much discussion as to the identity and gender of the visitor.  Audrey had also disappeared, as the weather was not welcoming to our newly arrived bird.  At our nest, it is not unusual for Tom and Audrey to take a leave of absence during very cold, windy weather.  They take cover out of the wind, and probably hang out in more protected trees around the neighborhood and in near-by woods.  We checked all the usual hang-outs, but Audrey was not to be found.  On March 25, she returned to the platform without offering a clue as to her former whereabouts.  Maybe she had a feeling that Tom was in the area, for later that night, he arrived back at the platform after dark.  His identity was confirmed the next day during daylight.

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Audrey in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us the day after she arrived

 

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Tom in the big tree two houses to the north of us shortly after his arrival. The tree will look very different in a few weeks when it leafs out.

 

Now that our happy couple was back together, there were many questions posed by our newer viewers inquiring how to tell Tom and Audrey apart.  Sometimes this is not easy. Our first Tom and Audrey pair, who started out with us in 1995, looked completely differently from each other, and there was never any question about who was who.  Our current Tom and Audrey are a different story.  Audrey is a little bigger than Tom, and has a Phoenix-shaped black patch on the back of her head.  Tom has a buff patch on the back of his head, and has mottled-looking feathers. When he first arrived at the secret location in 2015, the mottling was more pronounced.  He was nicknamed “Calico Tom” by Dr. Spitzer, and that name has stuck.  Over the years he has been with us, the mottling has lessened, but you can still observe his mottled feathers when he is dry.  When wet, the mottling is harder to notice.  Don’t feel badly if you have trouble telling Tom and Audrey apart, even the Crazy Osprey Family isn’t sure sometimes!

 

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A beautiful photo of Calico Tom sitting on COM’s boat lift with perfect conditions to see the reason he was given his nickname by Dr. Spitzer. He is dry and the sun is at a perfect angle to capture his mottled look.

 

Over the next few days, there was much discussion about the lack of nest building and many questions about the removal of the existing nests from year to year.  We have always removed the nest at the end of the season based on input from our resident osprey experts.  There are two reasons for the removal of the old nest every year.  One is to prevent parasites from wintering over and infecting our birds in the spring.  The other reason is that the nest, if allowed to grow and grow, would get way too big and heavy for our little pole.  The pole is twenty one feet long, and is sunk six feet into the sand, making it fifteen feet off the bottom with an average of thirteen feet above the surface of the water.

 

Dock Osprey

A really big nest on a boat lift right up the creek from the secret location. This nest would be way too big for our pole and platform, and is obviously not removed after each season.

I guess the owner of the above dock doesn’t get to use his boat lift very often!

 

Here are the remains of our nest after COM took it down last fall.  To remove the nest, he simply pushes it into the drink.

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Our 2016 nest forlornly floating off.

 

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There it goes……………

 

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Arrivederci, old friend!

 

After much angst and gnashing of teeth about the lack of nest building, a few days after Tom arrived BAM!, the nest building began in earnest.  It was a sight to behold!  We hope you all enjoyed watching the nest take shape with warp speed. Yet another advantage to removing the nest every year, I will add it to the list. But next year you have to give Tom and Audrey a little break.  After all, they just flew thousands of miles and needed a little R & R before commencing the build! This year, COM put a few sticks on the platform when he put the camera up to give you something to look at, but I don’t think he will do it again next year.  Now you know not to worry about the old nest being taken down, as Tom and Audrey (all of our Tom and Audreys) have built a spectacular new nest every year since we have had our pole starting in 1995.

Before the nest was started, you may have noticed a piece of aluminum angle iron on the platform.  There was some concern expressed about the safety of our ospreys with that piece of metal being exposed. COM installed it to keep the platform from deforming under the weight of the camera.  There were no sharp edges, and there was no chance that any birds could have been injured by the aluminum.  As soon as nest building began happening, the aluminum strip was quickly covered. Rest assured, we love our ospreys and would never do anything to cause them any harm!

The day after Tom returned, I happened to be home on another cold, wet afternoon and noticed him with a humongous fish.  It was so big, he had trouble carrying it and landed in the yard next door.

 

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Tom in the yard next door to the north. He had a hard time carrying his humongous fish, and landed in the grass. Note the buff color on the back of his head.

 

Tom was a little camera shy, and decided maybe he could carry the fish after all.

 

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Tom decides to take his chances and fly off with his prize fish. He landed on the dock next door to the north.

 

For those of you who are new to our camera, you will quickly learn that if Mrs. COM has a camera in her hand, she becomes a stalker extraordinaire.  Just a few steps closer……..

 

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Here she comes, Tom, get ready to move on!

 

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Yep, time to go!

 

Tom relocated to the dock two houses to the north of us.

 

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Maybe if I hide this fish, she will go away

 

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I don’t think hiding the fish worked, here she comes again.

 

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Getting ready to relocate yet again, darn it Mrs. COM

 

Off he went again, so I decided to let him eat his fish in peace.  This gigantic fish was identified as an American shad.  We usually see our ospreys eat shad early in the season before they migrate further north.  The majority of the fish caught and eaten by our ospreys during the season are menhaden, or alewife.  In the Chesapeake Bay, they are usually referred to as menhaden.  We will discuss fish later in the season.

 

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Audrey on the electric box at the end of the dock eating sloppy seconds. Roger is on duty, and looking very dapper.

 

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This tastes so good I think I will have another bite!

 

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I thought Roger was supposed to be a scarecrow. This crow doesn’t look too scared!  Maybe the crow knows Roger is really a scareowl.

 

Last Thursday, April 6, 2017, we had a ferocious storm blow through at the secret location.  There were tornadoes confirmed in Washington, D.C. and even closer to us.  We always worry about our feathered friends in such dangerous weather.  Our usually calm bay was whipped up into a frenzy.  Audrey hunkered down to ride out the storm.  Tom was nowhere to be found, probably hiding in the woods like a weenie.

 

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The Chesapeake Ocean

 

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Audrey is hunkered down riding out the storm. One of COM’s pink marked sticks is still visible in the lower left part of the nest.

 

The storm was fierce, but the nest held.  There was some damage, but it was mostly intact.  Windage on the camera caused it to rotate 180 degrees from its usual position.

 

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You can see some of the damage on the right hand side of the nest. Audrey is telling Tom to get moving, and either fish or do some nest repair. Tom is trying to ignore her. A pink and green marked stick are visible after the big blow.

 

The most damage from the storm was inflicted on poor Roger.  Here he is after the storm.

 

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Roger was pummeled by the wind and rain. His stylish straw hat was ripped off his head, and only a remnant remained.

 

COM retrieved brave Roger, and has taken him to the garage to be rehabilitated.

 

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Roger looking wet, dirty, bedraggled and hatless. His supporting stick has been broken off. COM is exhibiting the appropriate amount of concern.

 

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A bit of Roger’s old hat can be seen sticking up out of his “head”, which is an upside down gallon oyster container.

 

If you have been watching the camera even a little bit, I am sure you can’t help but notice that Tom and Audrey have been doing their best to make sure we have some fertilized eggs.  For the voyeurs in our midst, here is what their interludes look like from shore.

 

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Tell the kids to go into the other room, X-rated osprey photos. The camera is still in the rotated position.

 

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Wham, bam, thank you m’aam!

 

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The osprey equivalent of smoking a cigarette after their romantic interlude.

 

This photo gives you a perspective of the pole in relation to the water surrounding it.  It was taken just after the storm before COM was able to rotate the pole back into place.

 

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Audrey alone on the nest after the storm.

 

There has been discussion about perches at our nest.  I will discuss this in the next blog, as this one is getting way too long.  In the meantime, here are Tom and Audrey in the nest just after the storm.  You can see the damage on the right side of the nest.  Tom loves to perch on this nest anchor.

 

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Tom perched on one of his favorite places before the pole was back in position.

 

We had a very low tide a couple of days ago, and COM went out in the water and rotated the pole back into its original position.

 

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The pole is back in its usual position. Audrey is also in her usual position, the one with her mouth open squawking

 

Well, this blog has gotten long enough.  I still have lots of good information to pass on to you about various inquiries, and will continue answering some of your questions in the next few blogs.  I’ll cover such topics as where Tom and Audrey hang out when they are not in residence, perches, history of the nest and other fun facts that inquiring minds want to know.

 

A parting shot for now…………

 

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Sometimes you just get lucky. COM thinks I am gross for putting this photo in the blog. But it is nature in action, right?

 

Here’s hoping for a nest full of eggs for the next blog!

Don’t forget about the Chesapeake Conservancy’s 4th annual Welcome Back Osprey Party, to be held on Tuesday, April 25 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. in Annapolis, Maryland.  It will feature ornithologist and filmmaker Jacob Steinberg, who will talk about a documentary he wrote, directed and produced called “Osprey”.  For further information, please visit http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

111 thoughts on “Inquiring Minds Want To Know

    • Good morning Queen Audrey on this glorious Holiday day😍I think you are still asleep when I just checked guarding you and Major Tom’s beautiful TWO different colored osprey eggs🤞Enjoy the day everyone and their families and flap those wings as we say😘God bless the osprey🌈🌈

  1. Hey Tom: I’m glad you found a bright pink ribbon for your lady Audrey and the osprey to me!! gorgeous night and day on their nest. adios moe

  2. So happy to see the family growing. 2 eggs!! Wonderful news and nice warm weather for incubating too. Yay and Happy Spring to all!

  3. 9:14am..good morning everybirdie. Back to the grind once again. So nice to see things are progressing positively. Just popped in and Audrey is facing away from the camera. She is catching naps ~ there is one of the downstairs neighbors going from behind Audrey, snatching some of that lovely bed o moss, and then flying to their entrance of the downstairs condo!!!! Stealth he/she is (too sun shiny to see if it is the female or male sparrow)!
    9:20am ~ DANG – the female sparrow just took a huge beak-full !!! Symbiosis at its best!
    For the love of the osprey! 😎

  4. How eggciting yippee!!! That is wonderful …. Can’t wait till they all hatch T&A have this down pat. 💖❤️

  5. I wish we could get rid of that stick they both have been trying to do with no luck. Now it worries me more as I just got a good look at the eggs and that thing is right there in the way!

  6. Bella, I said same thing the other day it’s going to poke an eye out. There is a glare this morning the stick may have been removed or relocated …I hope so. Windy day on the water going to be a bit chilly. Have a great day!

    • I know, I’m so bummed. That’s probably also the reason that Audrey is not in the comfy middle and is so close to the edge. I hope something can be done. Those sides still need a lot of building up too. If Major Tom gets poked in the tail feathers maybe he’ll get upset enough and just snap it off. One can only hope. 🐥💕🐥🐣🐣🐣
      Have a wonderful day everyone. COF~~DTF
      (crazy osprey fan ~ dream to fly)

  7. Three eggs…good work Tom and Audrey….let us hope all continues to go well for them. The nest is still looking so pretty. The two osprey chicks at the Pink Shell Resort in Florida are on the brink of fledging…so our hatch watch will continue the cycle. Still cold and a bit blustery here on Long Island.

  8. Good morning I got to see changing of the shifts!! Eggs are BEAUTIFUL!!! Two look to be more speckled than the other. That poke your eye out stick has got to go. Tom took a bite at it before flying off. Bit rainy off and on today temps they say reaching 70 so that is good. Have a Great Day flap your bird wings to get ready for the hatching!!

  9. 9:30am ~ good morning everybirdie!! A bit of wetness brings in this day. Audrey looking a bit waterlogged. Of course as I am watching the sparrow neighbors from downstairs get into their own rock and roll hoochie koo…..
    ahhh spring is in the air everywhere now!
    For the love of the osprey! 😎

  10. Looks like the Peregrine Falcon’s (Barb & Boh) eggs are hatching! Two fuzzy babies just popped out with more to come! Baltimore is proud!
    “Update April 20, 2017: Two eyases have hatched! The first hatched on the morning of April 19 and fans tuned in on April 20 to see the second. Watch to see Boh and Barb feed their hungry offspring and to also see if the other two eggs hatch!”

  11. A beautiful sight now of Audrey awake incubating their three eggs and Tom on front right side cleaning himself👍🌈🌈sweet dreams everyone😍

  12. Audrey is sound asleep on those beautiful three eggs and Major Tom in same spot right front standing up-at first asleep then wakes up to shake his feathers 👍Wind seems to be blowing🌬🌬When I went to bed it was raining but doesn’t seem to be doing that now💧Rest up you two as the whole world has been enjoying your shanighans and will ne rooting u on when the day breaks🌈🌈

  13. Good morning! I have seen the eggs a few times. They are beautiful!! I wish that poke your eye out kid stick would be broken off. It’s a stick in the neck, stick in the wing, and a stick on the butt. Dreary day here in Baltimore. Have a great day everyone. Wing hugs❤️

    • Happy Earth Day today! We’ll send some sunshine your way from NC! May the sun shine on all sides of your wings today, and everyday!

      • Please do — we could use it!! It’s cold, wet and generally ugly here in MD today. Poor Audrey! Also feel bad for Barb and Boh trying to keep their babies warm and dry.

  14. Serenity on the nest at this time! Audrey is facing forward incubating their three precious cargo of eggs and Tom is on right front with head tucked in and sound asleep😴😴and the world awaits to c if a fourth egg will be laid soon🤔🤔sweet osprey dreams😴

  15. Where is everyone?? Audrey hunkered down and keeping those eggs covered and it looks breezy🤓Flap those wings a feather at a time and just enjoy the beauty of the osprey nest view😎😎😎😎😎

  16. Love to Tom and Audrey from Mexico Beach, Florida. Enjoy watching from home in Georgia but have to watch on weekends at the beach, too. 😍

  17. Finally had time to check in on the falcon cam in Baltimore. Looks like there are 4 white fuzzballs. I’m hoping the runt makes it. Mom fed the bigger eyasses , but the runt didn’t get anything from the 4 pm feeding.
    I’m happy to report that the neighborhood ospreys around Rock Creek have returned and have been sighted and heard numerous times these past two weeks.

    • With 4 babies, there is quite a size difference between the first and last, so I’m worried about the tiny one, too. Last year the fourth one didn’t make it.

  18. Tom brought in a log about 3 hrs ago that is at the left side of the nest……. maybe to balance offset the poking stick on the right side.

  19. 5:08pm – hello everybirdie! Tom just flew in with half a fish. Audrey sure has a her way of letting us know when he is coming in. Heard her calls and went to the cam just in time to see Tom land. He was already looking at the eggs before Aud took off, and as soon as she did he moved to cover them. A little chilly today in Maryland.
    Be well all
    For the love of the osprey 😎

  20. 5:42pm audrey back…..only took a minute, but tom gave up the incubating duties. Just love how attentive he is.
    For the love of the ospreys 😎

  21. All is well in ospreyland this Sunday nite🌒Also looks like a quiet date night for Audrey incubating on left and Major Tom at his usual right front of the nest spot🌸Another beautiful day to watch them🌷🌹🌻

  22. Good Morning! Another soggy day at the nest. Poor Audrey, wet and feathers blowing in the wind. It will take until June for the nest to dry out..

    • And it’s not looking any better for tomorrow! 😦 Hopefully, Audrey will stay on the nest and not take off on an overnight trip like she did last spring.

  23. GOOD ALMOST NOON ~~~CLOUDY RAINY AND COLD ~~~IN WILSON NC ~~MARY IN WINSTON SALEM ~~SEND SUN ~~AUDREY, AND TOM NEED A WEATHER BREAK ~~BE SAFE AND WELL AUD, AND TOM AND EVERYONE ~~

  24. Audrey justifiably yaps and nags. She’s been unattended for 4 hours until about 20 minutes ago when Tom made a very brief cameo appearance with no stick/bedding/food then took off.

  25. Good afternoon T&A lovers! That poke your eye out stick is going to send Me! Over the edge! I so wish, pray, hope, someone, somehow would go out there and snap it off. Audrey is sitting on it! What happens if it cracks an egg!!! So
    worried.😞
    Have a wonderful rest of your day 🙂

  26. I’m so excited new blog out entitled Mr. Murphy comes to call🌷Scroll down a bit from this post and u can hop right into new pictures and blog and please post on new comments there🤗🤗🤗. Adios. Moe from the cape😜😘

  27. Good morning! Another rainy day in Baltimore. Looks like Audrey is on the nest still sitting on poke your eye out stick… I so wish it would break must be a fresh twig. I have seen both chewing on it and it doesn’t budge. I want the sunshine and mid 70’s back and I’m sure that they do too! Flap those wings today. Big wing Hugs to all.

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