Puzzling Perplexing Possibilities

Good morning from the finally sunny Eastern Shore of Maryland!  After days of rain, clouds and ferocious winds, we have finally had a couple of beautiful sunny days.  Unfortunately, rain is forecast to start later today and continue through Saturday, with some heavy rains expected.  Birds and humans will start to grow moss between their toes!  But Sunday is supposed to be beautiful, how fitting for a Happy Mother’s Day for all of the mothers out there, human and avian!

Speaking of the weather, I am sure you have noticed that that wind speed indicated on the camera view doesn’t seem to correlate with what you are observing at the nest.  You would be correct, the actual wind speed is frequently way higher than the posted wind speed. COM is working with the explore folks to identify a weather station in the area that more accurately reflects the conditions here at the nest.


Squawking Audrey on a dreary day in the scraggly stick tree with a stormy sky (reminiscent of Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick) in the background



The scraggly stick tree is in bloom, adding to the light green patina of pollen enveloping anything and everything in the neighborhood, inside and out


While we are on the subject of weather, here is Audrey on the nest hoping the rain will stay away:



Gathering clouds over the secret location. This is a good view of the infrared light source directly under the fancy camera cover (K-Mart trash can). Audrey is hunkered down waiting for a meal and incubating her eggs



Tom and Audrey on another rainy day. Check out the downstairs neighbor returning home on the right!


There have been three major issues looming over us since the last blog.  I will attempt to address them all.  Here goes……………

First and foremost, I know you are all waiting with bated breath for the hatching of our first egg.  The range of hatching osprey eggs is 35-42 days after they are laid.  At our nest, the typical range has usually been 39-41 days.  I know you can all do the arithmetic, but as a quick guide, here is what we are looking at:

Egg #1-laid April 12, range of possible hatch dates May 17-24

Egg #2-laid April 15, range of possible hatch dates May 20-27

Egg #3-laid April 18, range of possible hatch dates May 23-30

So there you go, we are getting close!



Audrey looks like she might be counting the days to her first little bundle of joy


Issue #2-Oh, Tom, Tom, Tom!  Where the heck have you been, buddy?  It did not go unnoticed that Tom’s typical behavior seemed to have altered over the last week or so. His usual moniker, Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, seemed to need a revision.  Although we have the advantage here at the secret location of seeing what goes on around the nest as well as in the nest, we were also puzzled and perplexed.  Tom’s presence was sparse, and he wasn’t seen at his typical hang-outs. When he did show up at the nest, it was usually without a fish.  This unusual behavior also caused Audrey to catch her own fish, leading to the crow incident.  For those of you who missed it, Audrey’s tummy must have been growling, and she decided to take matters into her own talons and go fishing.  The eggs were left unattended, and an obnoxious crow decided he felt like an egg snack.  The crow started pecking at one of the eggs, causing Audrey to come barreling back to the nest to protect her potential offspring.  The fate of the injured egg is unknown at this time, so we will see what happens during the hatch window.  The pesky crows are everywhere and are quite bothersome.  In addition to bothering the ospreys, they have taken baby birds out of our bluebird house.  COM has modified our two bluebird houses with homemade devices to deter the crows from their nefarious sojourns.



Tom on the left, crow on the right waiting for the spoils


There was also some speculation that perhaps we had another osprey visiting the nest that was not Tom.  One of the reasons it was thought that was a possibility was the seeming lack of the buff color on the back of this osprey’s head.  We were also perplexed at that observation, having noticed the same thing.  What was puzzling was how Audrey treated this possible third player, she did not seem bothered at all to have the bird there.  It looked like Tom, but the lack of the obvious darker patch was puzzling and perplexing. I saw Tom a couple of times eating big fish in his usual places, but he wasn’t bringing any to Audrey.  Something just seemed off.  I knew what I was observing, but I did not know the answers to the questions being posed.  As in the past, when something is troubling at the nest, the Crazy Osprey Family calls in the experts and a call was placed to our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie.  I explained my observations, and my puzzlement. Here is a synopsis of my lengthy chat with him:

Anything is possible in Nature.

That about covers it all.  The bird in question could have been a returning juvenile from previous years at our nest, but probably not from the past two years since those three birds were banded.  It could have been Tom, and we just couldn’t see the buff due to the weather.  His fishing could have been off due to the turbid water caused by all the wind and rain.  He could have been taking refuge from the elements, etc., etc.

Anything is possible in Nature.

Thank you, Craig, for being there when we need you!  You are always the voice of reason, and we are so glad to have you as a mentor and friend.


Issue #3 has been the various camera malfunctions.  Believe me, no one likes having these camera issues.  We are all doing the best we can to correct problems when they happen.  We are in a transition year with the switch over to being one of the explore cameras, and everyone is learning.  Bear with us, we are all trying very hard to make this a wonderful experience for everyone.  Think positive, not negative and we will all get through these learning curves together!  Thanks so much for your patience and understanding.


I have taken a bunch of photos the past two weeks, and will finish the blog with some of them.


Here is a series of photos of Calico Tom the Fishing Fool, taken on May 6:



A delightful meal in the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us on a yucky day



I would admonish my daughter if she took a bite this big



I guess this piece was a little slippery (rain or blood or general muck), he dropped it!



Plenty more where that came from…



In between bites



Ready for another chunk of Chicken of the Sea



Thinking about fleeing from Mrs. COM



Nah, think I will stay and chow down a little more



Okay now, Mrs. COM, you are coming into my comfort zone


Tom and Audrey have allowed me to come much closer to them this year than in years past.  Dr. Spitzer told us to talk to them, which we have been doing.  I really do think it is working, they seem much less bothered when we are around them this year.

I had another close encounter with Tom, but this time, he decided to move on when I got close:



Tom with a rather large fish in the scraggly stick tree



Not paying much attention to me yet



You looking at me?



Getting closer. He is starting to realize I am not going away



Well, maybe just one more bite



Okay, I have had enough of you, Mrs. COM



Tom and his fish relocate to the big tree two houses to the north of us



She’ll never find me way up here in this big tree!


We have other visitors in the neighborhood besides those that fly:



A furry friend exploring near our big step ladder. Don’t let the eagle see you down there, you tasty morsel


Speaking of eagles, over the last two weeks, we have seen Tom and Audrey chase off an eagle that has been in the area a couple of times.  There is definitely an eagle pair living near by, we think across the street in the woods.  They are probably busy with their own young ones, as we haven’t seen them as frequently as we did over the fall and winter.

Some of you have been wondering about our dear scareowl, Roger.  He is back on duty, still kind of scraggly and dirty from his ordeal in the storm, but sporting a new chapeau:



Roger on duty at the end of the dock. Stay away, you murderous owls!



Roger, our protector and defender of ospreys big and small



How do you like my new hat? Spiffy, don’t you think?


As Audrey has been spending the vast majority of her time incubating, we don’t see her out and about so much these days.  She hasn’t been getting equal time in the photograph department.  I spotted her on the poop dock a couple of days ago, and wandered next door to memorialize her visit:



Does it look like something is missing? Yes there is, a leg!



The second leg is now down for a quick getaway



I think she likes me, hasn’t flown away yet, but I am further away than it looks in this photo



Audrey relocates to the top of the piling.  Look ma, I can balance on the other leg, too!



Audrey figures Tom has had enough time at the nest, and decides this is good time to vacate the piling






Everyone’s home for a minute


Tom has been relieved of egg duty (although he really likes egg duty), and decides to visit our neighbor’s new boat two houses to the south of us:



Tom leaves the nest and heads south



Flying low, cool reflection




Almost there


Here is the new boat, without poop producing ospreys.  The swim ladder where Tom and Audrey like to perch is visible to the left of the boat and the two dock chairs.  The poop dock is at the end of the dock in the foreground:



Poop dock in the foreground and sparkling new boat one dock down to the south



Poop dock and one of our COM modified bluebird houses next to my garden. Our neighbor’s new boat and the swim ladder are visible to the right



Tom at his destination, demonstrating why he is not welcome on top of my neighbor’s new boat



Caught! Please let me stay!


Tom then flew to COM’s boat lift on our dock.  Unfortunately, he didn’t choose the best place for a photo, but boys will be boys.  The two two photos are similar, but I couldn’t decide which one I like best, so decided to use both of them:



Tom on the boat lift, Option #1



Tom on the boat lift, Option #2


So which is your favorite?

Tom is not feeling like humoring Mrs. COM, and continues to the north, where he makes a stop on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the north of us:



Tom has continued on to the north, trying to get some alone time


This swim ladder is one of Tom’s favorite haunts:



Tom on the swim ladder on the dock with the new boat two houses to the south of us. Both Tom and Audrey like this perch


It’s so good to see Tom back at the nest with more regularity.  He likes to stand on the nest support:



Tom and Audrey together again




“Reunited and it feels so good” Audrey is singing to Tom (somehow I don’t think these are the lyrics she is singing)


This will give you some perspective of the nest pole in the water:



Can you see another pile of COM’s prefab sticks? Look closely


Well, it is 2:44 a.m. on Thursday morning, and I have to leave for work at 6:45, so I think it is time for a wrap.  Tom and Audrey may be parents again when next we meet. I will leave you with a glorious sunrise here at the secret location.  Someone has been getting up early, guess who?



Sunrise at the secret location. Thank you, Mother Nature!


Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man (COM), Mrs. Crazy Osprey Man (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!



















165 thoughts on “Puzzling Perplexing Possibilities

  1. This has been a horrible day for everyone. I am in Calif. and have been watching since 2 o’clock. That damn crow
    was attacking the little neighbors chicks and the small birds were screaming at him but nothing they could do while he sat there and ate their baby. I was crying so hard and screaming at him to get away. (like he could hear me)
    And hoping Audrey or Tom could hear their calls. It is almost 10 p.m. here so 1 a.m.where you are and neither have returned. I am so heartbroken like everyone. What a sad, sad day. Mother Nature can be cruel at times.
    Love to all. Maggie

  2. It was a rough season for Audrey weather-wise and with Tom a no-show much of the time. Her hunger and own survival won out and that’s a good thing. As difficult as it was to watch I actually feel some relief for her. I really don’t think the eggs were viable anyway. I hope for the best for the little sparrows but must accept whatever happens. Blessings to the COM family for maintaining the camera and blog for all of us. It’s very important for us to have a strong connection to all of Nature. Thanks again COFamily. XOXO

  3. Woke up just as heartbroken. Rewound the footage from this morning…. duck flew to nest, and Audrey flew away… did not try to defend…. after duck left, two crows came….and flew off with two of the eggs…tried to peck at the remaining egg. Not sure what Audrey is sitting on now….I can understand abandoning the nest as a means of survival, to get food that Tom wasn’t supplying…. but to not defend when other animals approach, I don’t understand that. This is just so very sad.

  4. just got up in CA. it is 6 am here. Saw only 1 egg left. I cannot imagine how the COF must feel with all they have put into this. Poor Audrey. But Mother Nature has a way of letting them forget horrible things like this. Hope
    everyone has a nice Mother’s Day. Too bad this has to happen at this time also. Maggie

  5. As hard as it was to see the eggs destroyed, it would have been even more heartbreaking to watch the chicks starve to death or get eaten by predator birds. Tom hasn’t been able to provide enough fish for Audrey, so it seems unlikely he could have sustained three babies. The nest has also looked much more raggedy this season; in past seasons he would frequently bring new materials and rearrange existing material, but he hasn’t been doing that, either. It seems that something has happened to Tom that isn’t visible to us, but which has changed his behavior drastically. As someone else pointed out, Audrey did what she had to do for her own survival, which is Mother Nature’s way. Such a sad ending to the season. Our thoughts are with the COF!

  6. Thank you, Mr. & Ms. COM, for providing us a window to Mother Nature and how She works on a daily basis. The time and energy you’ve given has been received by many, from humans to birds, and made this a better planet to try and understand. Please don’t deny yourselves the joy you’ve brought to many, and to share your secret world with us is such a gift from the heart…………

  7. Audrey back a couple of times in the last hour, laid down on the remaining egg, and left. She looked at it as if she knew it didn’t look right. At least we know she is okay, now where is Tom? I hope he is okay as well. Just devastatng with only a few days to hatch 💔 Something didn’t seem quite right from the very start. Again, to the COF, my heartfelt condolences and gratitude for your dedication for allowing us into your amazing world with these wonderful birds. I hope someday we will understand this season. COF ~~ DTF (crazy osprey fan ~~ dream to fly) 💕


  9. Two Osprey on the nest, one is Audrey and the way the other came in mantling a fish, I did not think it was Tom, but now I see the buff spot on the back of his head. Not offering her any and she does not seem to care, so odd.


      • Thank you Miss Kathy, I’m so confused and sad that I could not really tell what was going on and who was who. That makes me feel better that he brought her at least a morsel.

  10. Both Tom & Audrey are currently on the nest (11:50 a.m.). Audrey is looking at the egg and trying to sit, Tom has his wings spread and exhibiting some pretty unique behavior. In fact, I’m not quite sure if this is Tom at all. Audrey is now on the nest incubating the remaining egg.

  11. So strange. Was watching one sorry on the nest. Kept standing up and shifting over remaining egg. Suddenly 2nd osprey showed up and the both sat on next a bit. I can’t see how this last egg is viable though.

  12. Two birds were on the nest, but I could not see buff on the back of either head. One flew away and Audrey sat on the egg. The other bird just returned. The back of the head appears to be white. I don’t think this is Tom. I’m afraid Tom is lost to us. It is just not like him to leave the Audrey and the eggs like he did. Fishing can be dangerous for them.

  13. What a sad start to Mother’s Day! I am sure we all feel for the COFamily who have worked so hard on behalf of the ospreys and us, and we thank them for their devotion. (No more 2 a.m. postings — too hard on you!!) There will be better years to come. Best wishes to you and all your faithful fans and followers.

  14. A renewal of hope………………12:27 p.m. Audrey was sitting on the egg when another Osprey (Tom?) came to take her place. He is now incubating the egg. Perhaps another partner involved? They both seem to be sharing and co-parenting the remaining egg. A possibility for a good outcome maybe? Time will tell…………

  15. Blessings to one and all on this sad Mother’s Day. Hopefully the remaining egg is viable for Audrey’s sake since she is a stellar mom who has been put thru the depths of hell.

  16. I think that when Audrey kept leaving this morning, she was interviewing nannies. If only the last egg is viable, that would be a real Mothers Day miracle.

  17. Thoughts and prayers for the COF and Audrey and Tom (if he is still able and willing to be a good mate). Nature can be random, but never cruel. Audrey has to survive to perpetuate her species another day ~ just not this day.
    Very sad….
    Wing hugs to all my fellow friends here….
    For the love of the osprey 😎

  18. First thank you COF for the wonderful blog and pictures.Last day was horrible for me and think for all of us.I have closed cam after crows attacs the eggs ,was reading only all post.What i was feeling,i can not write.After night sleep and thinking,i`m happy that we not lost one of our adult ospreys Tom or Audrey.Weather was horrible,who can blame both.Rain,storm and i think,fishing was not possible.This afternoon ,i opend the cam and how the osprey good was given me the hope and i saw Audreys return with Tom and fish gift for her.Here the video.05/14/17 11:42

      • thanks so much UTA for the pictures of today! and we will never know why things happened as they did yesterday! At this time the nest is so pretty with Queen Audrey on the egg! calm waters below-her man Tom hanging out with her today and blah blah Happy Mother’s Day to you UTA Happy Mother’s Day to you Mrs. COMI I am so glad Audrey and Tom are aok!! adios moe from cold and rainy cape cod!!

  19. We’re back to square one minus two eggs. Audrey is incubating the golden egg (5:42 p.m.), Tom is standing on the post on the nest, and Audrey is yapping to Tom “Go get me a big juicy fish, and make it snappy!” We shall see……….

  20. I saw that also and am hoping golden egg is ok but we will all have to wait as no idea which egg it was remaining 🤗 I am still in love with Audrey and Tom in ospreyland 😀At least sun and warmth on the nest👍 And the waiting game continues 😉. Adios moe from the cape that is much cooler. ❤️

  21. Good morning ospreyland lovers and friends!! Sun is shining and waters below the nest are gleaming and feathers are dry for Audrey this gorgeous day. Hey Tom I haven’t seen u so far but you are handsome. Keep that fish coming and help keep that golden egg covered. Enjoy the day everyone. adios moe from the cape where the sun is finally out!!

  22. Good Morning from sunny Winston-Salem, NC. Audrey is looking gorgeous as ever and protecting the golden EGG. Our hopes are high for a viable egg and successful hatching, let’s keep the faith. Now where’s that Tom? : )

  23. Tom recently arrived with part of a fish for Audrey and he’s on nest duty now. He had not been there during the past 4 hrs on the rewind.

  24. Good afternoon what a beautiful day! I think Audrey is trying to nap a bit. I have not seen Tom today but haven’t been watching much today. Have a good day!! Keeping faith for that egg to hatch…we went through this last year we can do it again.

  25. and having faith is so important!! at this time Tom is with Audrey on the gorgeous nest with the last of today’s sun and warmth being enjoyed by both!! sleep well all and keep that golden egg covered!! we all have to believe!! adios from moe on the sunny cape finally!!!!!

  26. Yea!! During the past 4 hrs on rewind Tom did show up at about 7:45 and stayed about a whole 5 minutes. From my perspective there are no accolades for his behavior today.

  27. well day 17 almost completed!! windy and warm at the nest with Audrey on the golden egg! finally got 77 degrees on the cape and the osprey nests were saw had egg incubation! adios moe from the cape

  28. 11:10am ~ Good morning everybirdie! Well, timing certainly is everything when observing the nest cam. Audrey was putting up quite the fuss, so I came to watch…. Tom flew in with a fish, Aud took off and Tom has taken over incubating duties. I do have to say, never a dull moment this year with our super couple. The nest is one of the most sparse I have seen in the time I have been watching….
    Well, the next few weeks may determine the rest of the season. We do know what this couple is capable of. Audrey has had to defend this year’s nest more than usual against intruders, and she does need to keep her strength up.
    Adios, as moe says!!!
    For the love of the osprey! 😎

    • I definitely agree with you regarding the “state of the nest”! This is my fourth season watching and I’ve never seen it look so raggedy. In past seasons, Tom (both this one and the previous one) constantly brought new sticks and other nesting material and rearranged things. I don’t see that happening very often this season. While muddy waters may account for poor fishing, it certainly doesn’t explain this seeming lack of interest in the nest.

    • and good afternoon from cape cod!! the osprey nests around here are half the height and still raise young ones!! wow sun,no rain, Audrey a hot mamma osprey,fishing fool Tom doing the best he can and blah blah> glad i am not on camera 24/7. we are all going dream big for the golden egg to hatch!! adios moe from finally 79 degree cape cod for the love of the tourists here

      • I don’t think anyone is saying that young can’t be raised in the nest in it’s current condition — just noting that this is yet another one of this season’s irregularities. We’re ALL hoping for the best possible outcome for the remaining egg! Based on the hatching timeline previously provided by Mrs. COM, the next couple weeks will tell the story……

  29. Wouldn’t it be cool if a “lost” baby was found and Audrey ended up adopting like she has in the past? Just a fleeting thought, she’s MOM of the YEAR to me……….

  30. Audrey at this time looks like a bathing beauty just sitting in the sun and watching the water below!! u rock Audrey and I saw Major Tom still loves u with a little bit of lovemaking lunchtime or so!! adios moe from the cape

  31. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, hut-hut
    Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, hut-hut
    Took a walk and passed your nest
    Late last night
    All the sticks were placed
    Way down tight
    From within, a dim light cast
    Two silhouettes on the nest
    Oh, what a lovely osprey couple they ma-ade
    Put his wings around your waist
    Held you tight
    Pecks we could almost taste
    In the night
    Looking back at the sky
    Audrey and Tom’s silhouette’s on the nest
    I couldn’t hide the joy in our eye-eyes
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Ty-oh, oh-oh
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Silhouettes (silhouettes)
    Ty-oh, oh-oh This is far fetched but I thought of this song when I saw UTA’s entry of both putting a new stick down-silhouettes We can make believe it is Mrs. COM and Mr. COM walking down their dock! Song is by the Rays 1957 adios moe from crazy cape cod

  32. Does anyone have any idea, and I hope this is not true, if the egg is not viable how long will Audrey and Tom keep
    nesting? I think they took out my reply about the chick making noise in the egg during the last week before it hatched. It is in the “Nature” doc. “Owls and the Super Powers”. Maybe they thought I was making it up but
    if you go to National Geographic.com I think you can watch it there. It is towards the end. Just saying Audrey and Tom may be able to hear their chick and may know it is still alive. I sure hope so. I don’t understand why Audrey didn’t defend more. But this is my first bird watching year. I am so hoping all goes well. I’m, in CA. and I watch
    each day. Sending good thoughts to all. Maggie

    • Based on what happened two seasons ago, it appears they aren’t able to tell whether the eggs are viable or not. That season they incubated long past any possible hatching date — and the incubation only ended when the eggs were removed and two “orphan” chicks were placed in the nest. Those chicks, later named Maine and Montana, were raised successfully by Tom and Audrey.

      • Thank you so much for the information. Since this is my first year it really helps. Sending positive thoughts. 1:47 pm PST in Calif. Maggie

  33. Good afternoon! Warm day here today. Tom must be near Audrey got up…never mind potty break she is back on the nest. I’m hoping for that miracle for the golden egg. Have a great weekend🐥🐣

  34. good evening osprey lovers! well at this time audrey is yapping and tom just flew to back left post and is not paying any attention to her!! i see the new soft brown linens placed on the top of the nest bowl! well another day of incubating and hoping the golden egg becomes golden with a baby!! adios moe from cape cod

  35. Mr Tom has been disappointing during past 4 hrs on rewind & scan. He showed up with empty talons @6:15, same @7:25 when he visited for 5 mins. same @7:45 when he was there for 2 mins. He needs to take some lessons from Uta’s clip of the Montana osprey Lewis who fed his mate Iris as she was on the nest.

  36. Good afternoon: Audrey looks good on the nest. I was so worried about her yesterday evening because we had a violent storm here on the Western shore–maybe it wasn’t as bad on the Eastern Shore. Whatever, she seems no worse for the wear. Hope you’re all having a good day.

    • It would seem logical to assume that this lack of attentiveness from Tom is only going to reduce any possibility of Audrey & Tom being foster parents if their remaining egg doesn’t hatch. Even if this egg has beaten the odds and hatches, one has to wonder if the chick will survive since Audrey often has to leave the nest unattended while catching her own fish. We’ve already seen how opportunistic the crows are and Mrs. COM’s blog has also mentioned the presence of eagles nearby.

      • I agree that fostering isn’t a good idea this year with Tom’s erratic behavior. The day of the crow attack I rewound twice and saw the crow get into the third egg. Yesterday, at around 820am EDT the egg was positioned to show the hole for the first time, that I saw, since it was pecked into. Waiting to hear a comment from the experts if they might consider a foster chick.

  37. During past 4 hrs rewind & scan Tom finally showed up 40 mins ago w/fish bottom & Audrey flew off to eat. I hope birds aren’t prone to deep vein thrombosis since Audrey is extremely sedentary.

  38. good evening to all and at this time looks like date night with Audrey and Tom. Seems more nest building today with the moss and branches.. Sometimes it is hard to see the golden egg now. Enjoy the view ! adios moe from cape cod

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