Tom and Audrey have been calling their osprey pole home since 2009, when they were just a young pair learning how to build nests. Today, they are seasoned nest builders and have raised several families in this location.
Last year, Tom and Audrey had three chicks – named by the loyal viewers as: Chester, Essie, and Ozzie. To relive last year’s highlights, check out this short “Year in Review” video. We are looking forward to another exciting year with Tom, Audrey, and their family.
See below for some answers to questions you may have about the osprey.
How to tell Tom & Audrey apart:
You will see that Audrey is the larger and heavier of the pair, with a necklace of dark feathers and lemon yellow eyes. While the pair builds the nest together, she is the one who will guard the nest and incubate the eggs. Tom, the smaller one with the light brown patch at the nape of his neck and golden eyes, is the ‘commuter.’ He will fly out, catch fish, and return food to the nest for Audrey and her chicks. He will sometimes incubate the eggs, giving Audrey a well-deserved break. He is also responsible for protecting the nest from bald eagles, which often prey on osprey nests. Audrey is now incubating four eggs. They should begin hatching around the end of May.
Unfortunately, there are some fascinating aspects of osprey life that we cannot see through the camera. For example, courtship flights. From osprey biologist Dr. Paul Randolph Spitzer, “the male’s spectacular courtship flights, in which he hovers and dives high above the nest while carrying a newly caught fish, calling all the while. The fish flashes in spring sunshine as the male becomes an aerial acrobat. Not surprisingly, mating often follows.”
For those of you concerned about man-made materials in the nest – don’t be! Again, from Dr. Spitzer, “Ospreys often line their nest with a plastic bag, which suggests they have figured out the insulating and moisture-conserving value of sheet plastic. How did that happen?: Ospreys’ annual mortality rate is low, about 15%, and the survivor recruits a new mate. Thus all kinds of accumulated learning gets transferred to the newcomer: This is “Osprey Culture”, and the traditional annual nest site is the focus for this remarkable learning process.”
Thank you Dr. Spitzer for the great information, and stay tuned to the Osprey Cam to see what will happen next!
Please consider contributing to the Chesapeake Conservancy today to support this important work. Visit www.chesapeakeconservancy.org to learn more!