Better Late Than Never

Good morning from the cold, wet Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Another dreary day here at the secret location.  We are due for some sunny, warm spring weather, which will be most welcome by all, man and beast (bird).  Yesterday was the start of egg-laying for Audrey, yippee!!  As I write, she is sitting on her egg in the cold wind, protecting her precious bundle. The eggs should come every two days, for a total of two to four in her clutch.  The typical number of eggs Tom and Audrey produce in a season is three, but there is always a chance for four.  Time will tell, so stay tuned!

First, I had a bit of good luck last week at the grocery store.  I was thrilled with my find at six thirty in the morning.

 

Toilet Paper

A sight for sore eyes. Well, maybe not sore eyes………..

 

As I mentioned in my last blog, I went through a vast quantity of photos a couple of weeks ago in preparation for publishing my first blog of the season.  There were just too many to use in one blog, so as promised, here is one that contains some of those photos. The dates span August 2019-February 2020.  Better late than never!

As the 2019 season started to wind down in August, Audrey was the first to leave for her winter digs, which is typical at our nest.  Tom, Lil Bit and Archie remained, with Tom being the responsible parent. This is the camera pole last season before COM modified it with the spiffy new perch on top.

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Tom surveying his kingdom with a yapping fledging. There has to be some Audrey DNA in that one!

 

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Archie and Lil Bit spent some time honing their flying skills, which also encompassed landing skills.

 

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This isn’t as easy as Mom and Dad made it look

 

 

 

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Phew, made it! Look at the wingspan on that youngster!

 

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More yapping, this time way up in the tippy top of Joe’s big tree.

 

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Here is some perspective of how high up the youngster was in the tree

 

True confessions-I am not sure of the true identity of the youngsters in some of these photos, so yes, I am being purposefully evasive.  I do believe this was Lil Bit.

 

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All of our ospreys love the scraggly stick tree along the water one house to the north of us. Tom and a youngster are hanging out together

 

Here are some dastardly crows congregating in the top of Joe’s tree.  Our new pan tilt zoom camera has two-way sound capability, so if we see the crows performing nefarious acts at our nest, we can yell at them.  Perhaps we can entice the explore cam operators to help, will have to check with them.

 

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These birds we could do without, especially with the eggs arriving. Sorry for the terrible lighting.

 

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Tom keeping guard on one of the youngsters in the scraggly stick tree

 

Tom will usually spend the night either on top of the camera pole or on the cross bar which stabilized the two poles.  You can hear him scratching around when he is on either one of his nighttime roosts.

 

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Tom on the cross bar which stabilizes the two poles.

 

A lovely photo of Calico Tom The Fishing Fool shortly before he left for points south.

 

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Tom in the scraggly stick tree with a bright blue autumn sky. This is shortly before he left for his winter home

 

As much as we are sad to see our beloved ospreys leave to winter in South America, their departure allows for some other spectacular visitors.  We have a population of bald eagles in the area, who do not get along with the ospreys.  When the ospreys are away, the eagles will play.

 

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Joe’s big tree with two majestic bald eagles at the very top

 

I stealthily approached the tree, hoping not to scare them off before I was able to get a closer shot.

 

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Success! Check out the yellow feet on the closer eagle.

 

My stealthiness didn’t last for long, and one of the eagles took flight.

 

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No words needed

 

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Flying right overhead as I was twirling around to attempt a photo. Not a great photo, but you get the idea. Check out the yellow feet tucked in for aerodynamics

 

There are also juvenile bald eagles in the area.  It takes a few years for them to develop their distinctive white heads and tails.  Here is a youngster on our osprey pole.  His plumage is almost fully developed, but you can still see some dark streaks on his head.  This photo was taken just after sunrise, not the best lighting but a cool photo nonetheless.

 

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Big baby!

 

Check out the thick feathering on the legs, almost looks like the eagle is wearing pants.

 

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Juvenile eagle rearranging sticks for Tom and Audrey.

 

You can see that the eagle’s plumage is not fully developed.  This is also a good vantage point of the top of the camera pole before the new perch was installed.

 

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Something has caught the eagle’s attention

 

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Stand back, I’m an eagle!

 

I am sure this is the same eagle pair as above, this time with late afternoon lighting

 

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At the top of Joe’s tree in the late afternoon sunlight

 

In addition to eagles, there are many Great Blue Herons in the area.  I caught this young one on the electric box scratching an itch with the sparklies in the background.  This photo was taken in the morning, so the lighting is not so hot for photos this time of day from our yard.

 

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Young backlit heron scratching an itch

 

A beautiful late summer sunrise.

 

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One of my favorite sunrise photos of all time

 

It was time to take down the poles for the winter.  In years past, we have removed the nest but allowed the pole or poles to remain standing.  As I explained in the last blog, the poles are removed for a couple of reasons.  One reason is to protect the poles from moving ice.  More recently and since we have had a dedicated camera pole, that pole is mounted on our dock to allow viewing of the tundra swans, other waterfowl and the vistas that grace the Chesapeake in the winter.  Our good friends from the Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage, Phil and Dean, were on hand for the end of season operation.

 

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Phil is removing the crosspiece with COM’s help and our trusty mega stepladder

 

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Time for the nest to go

 

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Where are your gloves, Phil?

 

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Almost gone

 

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The nest is floating off toward our dock. Look closely, do you see anything vaguely familiar?

 

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COM is carrying the crosspiece back to the dock

 

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What is Phil carrying? Could it be Audrey’s copy of The Capital newspaper? Yes, it is!!!

 

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Getting the kayak ready to transport the trash pump, which is in the wheelbarrow, out to the poles

 

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The pump is in the kayak. Look in the water at the end of the dock. The remains of the nest are floating by

 

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Close up of the nest remains floating by the dock. If you look closely, you can see one of COM’s marked sticks to the right of the piling

 

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COM readying one of the pulleys to raise the camera pole

 

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The bare nest platform. There is a line from the camera pole leading to the pulley at the bottom of the platform, then attached to the bottom of the stepladder, that will be used to help lower the camera pole

 

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Drew, COM and Phil bringing the trash pump out to the poles

 

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Ready to jet the poles out

 

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Drew jets out the pole while Phil and COM lower it down. The camera cannot get wet

 

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The poles are buried four feet into the bottom and are really hard to get out

 

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The pole is lowered slowly, being assisted by COM playing out the line attached to the pulley under the nest platform

 

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Almost down

 

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Now the pole is positioned for the slow trek back to the dock, with careful attention to not getting the camera wet

 

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The pole is rotated so the camera is away from the water. COM is still handling the line keeping the pole out of the water

 

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COM is gathering the line used to lower the camera pole. Phil is resting the very heavy pole and camera on his shoulder

 

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Off they go. Due to the weight and having to make sure the camera stays dry, it takes all three to get the pole back to dry ground

 

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The pole is back to the dock. Now it needs to be raised and attached to the piling for winter viewing

 

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Phil and Dean are in the water under the dock pushing while COM hoists the pole up

 

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A nice dry camera nearing its winter residence

 

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Positioning the pole. COM and Drew are on the dock, and the young, strong, hearty Phil is still in the water (he is very cute, by the way)

 

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The nest pole stands alone. looking rather bare and forlorn

 

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Back to the dock. This is a good view of the top of the platform with the metal strip that strengthens the platform.  It will spend the winter on the top of the rip rap in our yard

 

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The team is bringing the kayak and trash pump back to shore. Sorry I cut off part of Phil. They were in motion at the time

 

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The winter home of the camera pole with the camera all wired up

 

So between the last blog and this one, you now have an idea of the amount of work involved to take the poles down for the winter and get them back in place for the start of the osprey season.  We all need to give a big shout out to COM, Phil, Dean and Michael for doing the hard work that makes it possible for all of us to enjoy some of the best that nature has to offer here on the Chesapeake Bay!  An extra atta boy is due to COM for all the behind the scenes work he does all year round to maintain and improve everything having to do with the camera and equipment.

Winter on the Chesapeake Bay is a different world from summertime.  In the warmer weather, the bay is bustling with boaters, crabbers, ospreys, heron, fish and all sorts of recreational activities.  In the winter, things slow down considerably and the weather changes from sultry summer days to the much more challenging winter climate .  In spite of the cold, grey skies, there are still those who have to make their living by working on the water.  This lone waterman caught my eye one cold, foggy winter day tonging for oysters. A true taste of the old days on the mighty, magnificent Chesapeake Bay.

 

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Tonging by hand for oysters on a cold, foggy winter day

 

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Only the hardiest among us can eke out a living this way.

 

I will leave you with another lovely sunrise over the water at the secret location, complete with two of our tundra swans.

 

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A bucolic sunrise at the secret location

 

Good bye for now!  Hopefully next time we meet, there will be a full clutch of eggs for Tom and Audrey.  Remember to wash your hands, don’t touch your face and please stay safe.

 

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Man 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never

  1. MrsCOM’sblog is one of the best parts of Osprey watching. Thank you! Sherry Clark

    On Sat, Apr 18, 2020 at 3:34 PM Osprey Camera Blog wrote:

    > ospreycam posted: “Good morning from the cold, wet Eastern Shore of > Maryland! Another dreary day here at the secret location. We are due for > some sunny, warm spring weather, which will be most welcome by all, man and > beast (bird). Yesterday was the start of egg-laying fo” >

    • Hi, Sherry! First comment of the newest blog, ding, ding,ding, you win!! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know that you like reading my blog and watching the camera. So glad you are a part of our little osprey world. Stay safe! Mrs. COM

  2. Another magnificent set of pictures and commentary. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. You really ought to enter the one of the beautiful sunrise with the fisherman in a photo contest. It is really special.

    • Hi, Nancy! Thanks once again for taking the time to post a complimentary comment! It is always my pleasure to put together a blog that everyone can enjoy. I do like that sunrise photo with the boat, and it really is one of my all-time favorites (and I have taken ALOT of sunrise photos!). Take care, stay safe! Mrs. COM

  3. Dear Mrs. COM, Thank you for the newest addition to your blog. Pictures and commentay are as usual just wonderful. That sunrise picture is really beautiful.

    So happy to read that Audrey has laid her first egg. Looking forward to see how many there will be. Fingers crossed for a happy season. In the current climate, it’s something positive for us to look forward to.

    Stay safe, everybody, and thanks again, Mrs. COM.

    • Hi, Pa Gal! And thank you once again for your nice comment. Our ospreys do take us away from the current climate for a little while for sure, sorely needed right about now. Looking forward to seeing a full clutch of eggs and successful hatching! Thanks, Mrs. COM

  4. Hello from soggy Cape Cod where a new blog just excited my soul and I thank you for a brighter afternoon 👍 What a synchronized event of pole and camera and nest removal! Your photos are majestic and have a relaxing quality with your humor appreciated. My favorite photo is one of the new Osprey almost touchdown on the nest! Thanks MR. COM, Phil,Dean,Michael and you for your hard work and devotion for Audrey and Tom and the Conservancy and of course the daily moderators of this camera that allow us to not skip a beat as one says in the day of what is happening with their beautiful captures of an osprey’s life⭐️⭐️Stay safe everyone and happy egg counting and keep the colored sticks in your yard to be picked up by smart Audrey and Tom!! Blah blah Moe from Cape Cod-a Place you also love💖

  5. Hi, Maureen! Thanks as always for your wonderful comment, a little story on its own! It’s faithful camera watchers/blog readers like you that keep us going here at the secret location. And yes, I do love Cape Cod! Take care, stay safe! Mrs. COM

    • Love your comment, Anne! Short, sweet and gets the point across. Thanks for reading my blog and watching the camera. Here’s hoping for a couple more eggs and healthy hatches! Stay safe. Mrs. COM

  6. Once again, you have outdone yourself, Mrs. COM, with the spectacular photos and the funny and informative remarks. I love this nest with Audrey and Tom, but watching them would not be possible without the COF and the Chesapeake Conservancy, joined by the Explore folks from mods to cam-ops, so I sincerely thank all of you for letting us into their world.

    • Hi, Evelyn! And once again, you are so very welcome! It always warms my heart to receive comments such as yours with such obvious regard for Audrey and Tom. We have a wonderful team that has enabled us to share our little osprey world with all of you. Stay safe, and thanks again for being such a loyal camera watcher and blog reader! Mrs. COM

    • Why hello, Becky Shaw! So glad you were able to read my blog. Check out the camera, Audrey should be laying egg #2 any time now! Thanks for the shout out! Stay safe! ZL, Mrs. COM

  7. Wow, blow by blow of pole work! What a act of love ❤. These guys are great at team work. Your blog is truely uplifting and photos are breathtaking! Wish you good health for years to come and continued good luck finding the elusive TP!

    • Hi, Martha! So happy to hear you are enjoying the blog and camera. It is quite a job to get the poles and camera out and back. We are very fortunate to have Phil and Dean so close by. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a positive comment. I should be good on the TP for a while, that package was the equivalent of 48 rolls (so they say). Stay safe! Mrs. COM

    • Hi, Mary! You are very welcome. It wouldn’t be much fun to write a blog or maintain a camera if we didn’t have faithful readers/watchers like you! Thanks for the comment, always appreciate reading them. Stay safe! Mrs. COM

  8. As always, I enjoy your Osprey blog and as someone who works on installing antenna towers, the detail in assembling the nest and cam poles. The season with Lil’ Bit and Archie was a blast and I was wondering, did you keep that newspaper from the nest as a memento? Thanks for everything you do to bring this to us, ILB, faithful viewer at the explore Osprey cams.

    • Hi, Scott! Thanks for chiming in and leaving a comment. The answer to your question is no, didn’t keep the newspaper. Even though the wrapper was there, it was no longer intact and waterproof. The newspaper was a big wad of black goo with some big pieces still left, not a keeper in any sense of the word! Glad to hear that you are enjoying reading my blog and watching the camera. Here’s hoping for a successful incubation, and some little bundles of joy in May! Mrs. COM

  9. Mrs COMOMMA !!!
    It is so inspiring to read/see your blogs and to have the honor of being part of this nest for so many years. I love your sense of humor, and I also have added nefarious back to my lexicon since you used that word for those dastardly crows!!! I hope you are all well.
    I’ll be os-praying for you all during this time!!!
    SteelyDanFan
    the artist formerly known as ~ coreygirl from md and then geri from md

    • Hi, Geri!! So wonderful to hear from you. Yes, you have been following our nest for a very long time. It’s really rewarding to hear from long timers, still going strong after all of these osprey seasons. Nefarious is a great word, don’t you think? Thanks for reaching out, and many thanks for continuing to watch the camera and read my blogs! Here’s to a successful 2020 osprey season. Please stay safe! Mrs. COM

  10. I have greatly enjoyed your blogs for quite a few years, they are well written and the photos are amazing! Thank you both so much for your efforts! I used to share the web cams with my students who greatly enjoyed following the progress of the osprey family. One time early in the osprey season, I forgot to turn the volume off my laptop in the PE office, and while giving 50 plus students their instructions for our PE class, Audrey started one of her rants. The expressions and wide eyed looks by my kindergarteners were so funny. Thanks to Audrey, we had a short osprey lesson instead of getting right into our activity of the day. Is there any concern over the long vacancies from the nest? With the rain and low temps that we have been experiencing, will leaving the nest for such long periods turn into a good outcome?

    • Hi, Chris! Thanks for the wonderful comment, made me chuckle! I wish I had an answer for you on the eggs being left unattended for so long. We have experienced this before in 2016, but the weather was nasty, rainy and cold. The eggs were left unattended for seven hours, but still hatched. Check out my blog from the end of May 2016. I don’t even see Tom or Audrey in any of their usual places today. It is colder than usual. The last time, Tom hadn’t been bringing many fish, so Audrey had to go catch her own. I think the same thing is happening now. Time will tell, but I am worried. Hang in there! Thanks for being a faithful blog reader and camera watcher. Stay safe! Mrs. COM

  11. Hi Mrs. COM,

    I’ve started watching your osprey nest some days before the first egg was laid down. I check it every day since then, to follow the birds. In these times it is a source of some relief. Today I found your blog, too, and reading it just has added personal touch to the cam’s view which I – and all of us, I’m sure – need so desperately. Now I feel these birds – and a little bit you, too – kinda friends of mine. I watch other nests, as well, but this one became special for me because of your presence, words, photos and the learned history of the birds.
    I live in Hungary which is a small country in Europe.
    Keep up doing this and stay save.
    Thank you
    Gábor.

    • Hi, Gabor! Wow, a lovely comment from Hungary, how special! My grandfather immigrated to the US from Budapest, so I have some Hungarian blood running through my veins! I am so happy you found our camera and my blog. You can go back to the Archives and read all of my blogs starting in 2013. My writing and photo taking has evolved quite a bit from the beginning, so it might be fun for you to check it out. Thanks ever so much for sharing your kind thoughts with me, has really made my day. Please stay safe! Mrs. COM

    • Hi, Gabor. I am not sure what you are seeing. Our ospreycam is on highlights. The dock where the power is located is almost under water and the circuit breaker has tripped. There is very heavy wave action and wind, with the worst of the weather, including very heavy rain, coming in later today. The eggs are unattended, don’t know where Tom or Audrey are hanging out. Looking grim. Mrs. COM

  12. Hi Mrs. COM,

    I was around until Audrey’s final farewell.
    You and the birds made my months much easier amid this crazyness.
    Will meet all of you next March, hopefully all healty.

    Szívből köszönöm és a viszontlátásra !
    Gábor

    • Hi, Gabor. Thanks ever so much for reaching out. I have been so melancholy. The poor birds didn’t have a chance this season. The weather has been so miserable, rainy, windy and cold. We have broken records for low temperatures. The night before the final attack, Tom was out there fishing for such a long time, and was unable to catch anything that we could see before dark. Adult osprey survival instincts will cause them to seek food and shelter over the eggs, which is the way it must be. I get so saddened and angry when people start blaming Tom and Audrey for not doing the right thing. I may publish one more wrap-up blog, but just not up to it right now. Thanks again for all of your comments. Stay safe! Mrs. COM

  13. Oh no, what happened? Are Tom and Audrey OK? I haven’t checked in lately, and to read your comments, Mrs. COM, has me worried about them. Eggs can alway happen again next year.

    Maybe there is some hope. Not ospreys but eagles in Florida had issues with their eggs and another clutch was laid, with successful hatches. Completely unexpected. Who knows, maybe it’ll happen for Tom and Audrey, too.

    • Hi, Pa Gal. As you have probably figured out by now, crows destroyed the remaining two eggs early yesterday morning. COM and I did the best we possibly could to try and thwart the crows, but they eventually chose a time when we couldn’t stop the attack. Poppy was even texting me from Germany when she saw crows on the nest. I was so hoping that at least one of the eggs would stay intact so if none of the eggs turned out to be viable, we would still have a chance for fosters. The weather was just way too adverse for our ospreys to spend enough time in the nest, they needed food and shelter. Without an egg in the nest, Tom and Audrey won’t spend much time there now, so we wouldn’t be candidates for foster chicks. In 2015 when we got Maine and Montana, all three eggs were still in the nest, but not viable, so Audrey was still sitting on them. That enabled Craig to remove two of the eggs and replace them with two chicks, while still leaving one egg to maintain nest fidelity. If I do another blog this season, I will talk about that. Just not in the mood for another blog just yet. Thanks so much for reaching out, it really means a lot to me. Stay safe! Mrs. COM

      • I am so very sorry, Mrs. COM. I know how much you and your family love these birds. To have to witness the crows’ destruction of what looked so promising and to be unable to stop it must have been just horrible. (As I write this, I am hearing Audrey complaining about something, with Tom in the nest, too. Makes me smile.)

        Thank you for explaining about how a nest can qualify for fosters. I remember the Maine and Montana year but had forgotten about the need for in tact eggs. Just the thought of M & M brings back such wonderful memories.

        You and your family couldn’t have done any more for Audrey and Tom. Guess it wasn’t meant to be this year as the bad weather conspired with the crows. Mother nature, so cruel in 2020. As a viewer of the cam and reader of the blog, I thank you for all that you do. Take care and be safe.

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