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,, 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.



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



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



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!



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.


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



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!



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.


Our 2016 nest forlornly floating off.



There it goes……………



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.



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.



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……..



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



Yep, time to go!


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



Maybe if I hide this fish, she will go away



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



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.



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



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



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.



The Chesapeake Ocean



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.



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.



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.



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



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.



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



Wham, bam, thank you m’aam!



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.



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.



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.



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…………



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

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!











Never Fear, The Date Draws Near!

Good afternoon from the still blustery, cold Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Since my last blog, we certainly have seen some nasty weather here at the secret location.  We went from hoping one of our feathered friends would make an early appearance to being oh so very happy that the platform is still bare.  I know many of you are watching, waiting, beginning to get nervous and a little worried about the fate of our beloved family.  Therefore, I have gathered some data on the dates our ospreys have returned since we have had our newest Audrey.  I hope these nuggets of knowledge will provide some relief over the next few days while we watch and wait.  This data was shared at the beginning of the 2016 season, but I thought it would be a good reminder that there is no need to panic just yet!

2009:  This was the last year of our first Tom and Audrey pair.  Tom showed up on March 22, 2009, and Audrey arrived on March 30 that year.

2010:  We were away on a spring break vacation from March 12-21.  The morning after we returned home, March 22, we observed a new Tom and Audrey already in residence at the nest.

2011:  This was the year for a St. Patrick’s day return for Tom, with Audrey only three days behind on March 20.

2012:  Tom arrived on March 21, but COM’s usually reliable notes do not reflect the exact day of Audrey’s arrival, which was sometime after Tom’s.

2013:  This was the first year of our partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy and the start of our blog.  Tom arrived on March 21 with Audrey not far behind on March 24.

2014:  Our first anomaly year, with Audrey showing up before Tom on March 22.  Tom took his good old time, and made his grand entrance on March 27.

2015:  We had a crazy start in 2015.  Audrey showed up first on March 16, followed by a brief one week visit from a dark stranger.  The visiting osprey showed up on March 23, and adult-rated osprey shenanigans occupied most of the week this Lothario was in residence.  Our Calico Tom arrived on March 30, and laid claim to his new mate.  The dark stranger moved on to more fertile, friendly grounds, and was not seen again.

2016:  Audrey was back very early last year.  The camera was scheduled to be put up on March 9, but she arrived back on the scene March 8.  After another early season of suspense and questions surrounding the arrival of a second osprey previously not seen, our Calico Tom finally showed up.  He took charge and reclaimed his woman on March 31 after a resounding aerial battle with the mystery osprey.

In my walks around the neighborhood, I have not seen any ospreys so far this year.  We have many active nests in our area, and none of the ospreys are back.  So at this point, I am not worried about Tom and Audrey returning.  Are you all feeling better now?  Get some sleep, it will be all right!

There have been many questions and comments posted on the Conservancy’s Facebook page, our blog and at the site.  While we wait for the return of Tom and Audrey, I thought this would be a good time to post some thoughts and insights in response to your questions and comments.  For some reason, the photos in this blog have reverted to posting at a small size, so please click on each one to enlarge for your viewing pleasure.

Swans:  Many of you have commented and posted photographs about our gorgeous tundra swans that grace the water around our nest.  In addition to being Crazy Osprey Man, COM is Crazy Swan Man from November, when the swans arrive at the secret location and March, when they fly north to their breeding grounds.  Our visiting flock of tundra swans usually numbers between sixty and seventy a day. A few years ago, some of our swans were banded and fit with satellite collars, and their summer home was determined to be in northern Hudson Bay, up near the Arctic Circle.  A general rule of thumb around these parts is that when the swans leave in March, the ospreys return.  COM feeds his swans daily when they are here, and when they see him walking down the dock, they take off in flight toward him to get to their daily ration of cracked corn.  The swans you see on the osprey camera are tundra swans, which are native swans.  They have a black beak, and have very loud calls.  The other swans that used to be seen around the Chesapeake Bay are mute swans.  They are non-native swans with orange beaks, who wreak havoc on the underwater grasses.  The mute swans were introduced to North America from Europe in the late nineteenth century.  They have been declared an invasive species due to their adverse effects on waterfowl and native ecosystems, severely reducing the density of submerged aquatic vegetation.  The mute swan population in the Chesapeake Bay was eradicated several years ago, and we haven’t seen any mute swans at our dock for many years.  The mute swans that would visit the secret location were very mean to the tundra swans (and would hiss at us), and although beautiful, we were not sorry to see them go.  We hope you have enjoyed watching the tundra swans swim by under the nest pole.

Some of our swans


Crows:  We have a plethora of crows in the area, and you may have noticed some of them sitting on the nest platform.  When our ospreys are in residence, the crows will hang around trying to mooch a free meal of unattended fish or scraps that remain in the nest.


Lots of crows waiting for a free meal


Infrared light source:  Once again this year, COM has spent a large chunk of his time trying to tweak our infrared light source for nighttime viewing.  He purchased a new light for this season, and we tried it out for a few nights.  Under the darkness of night, one of us would go down to the dock and try out different COM designed filters, while the other was stationed at our dedicated osprey camera computer monitor located on the second floor in COM’s office assessing the quality of the IR light using different parameters.  Communications between the end of the dock and the house were by cell phone.  I think the final product will be awesome for nighttime viewing this season.  From what we have seen so far, the IR feature is looking really good.


Unusually low tides:  The winds over the last ten days have really been howling.  When we have high winds from the northwest and a low tide,  sometimes the water will get blown out of the bay.  This usually occurs only during the winter months a couple of times a season.  Due to these high winds, a few days ago the swans could be seen walking around under the nest pole!  For those of you who observed this, it was quite comical to see the swans waddling around on their feet and not swimming by as their usual graceful selves.

High winds from the northwest and an unusually low tide=water blown out of the bay


Nest sticks:  I guess COM was feeling a little sorry for our ospreys this year, as for the first time, he placed a few sticks on the platform when the camera went up.  The platform is usually bare until nest building commences, but not this season. For those of you new to our nest, we have some of the luckiest ospreys around.  Every season, we gather the perfect osprey nest sticks, and put them in the backyard for the ospreys to use in building and maintaining their nest.  COM will tie various colors of construction tape to some of the sticks, and these marked sticks always end up in the nest.  Keep your eyes peeled during the season for the various color sticks that will appear.  You won’t see any green St. Paddy’s Day sticks this year as there are no ospreys around, but Easter is not far off!

COM’s supply of sticks


Roger:  Our resident scarecrow Roger, protector and defender of osprey nests, is resting comfortably in his winter quarters (the garage) until his services are needed.  He will make his appearance soon, and maybe we will give him a spring make-over (but maybe not, we will see).  Roger became one of the family after an attack at our nest by a Great Horned Owl last season, leading to the loss of one of our newly-hatched chicks and an unhatched egg.

Roger doing his thing. He looks like he is doing a little dance


Eagles:  There are three eagles that have been around since the fall, two adults and a juvenile.  They all spent a fair amount of time sitting on the nest platform, in the big trees two houses to the north of us, and flying around the area.  I don’t anticipate this will be a problem when Tom and Audrey return.  We will keep an eye out for a confrontation, but there is nothing we will be able to do if there is trouble between the eagles and ospreys.

The two adult eagles in the nest after the ospreys left but before the nest was knocked off


The two eagles after the nest was removed for the 2016 season


The eagle stands alone


A beautiful sunrise at the secret location during October 2016:

Mother Nature at her best-October 2016 sunrise


Remember, after a one season hiatus, comments are once again being allowed on our blog page.  Feel free to communicate with other camera watchers and blog readers at the end of each blog. Please follow the rules, which were posted in the last blog.

I hope I have soothed you about the return of Tom and Audrey and answered some of your burning questions.  Here’s hoping for some good news in the next few days!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!



Sweet Sixteen

Good afternoon from the sunny, brisk Eastern Shore of Maryland!  We have had a very pleasant winter here at the secret location.  With only one snowy day in January (which was on a Saturday and didn’t last very long), Mother Nature has been very kind to us. More about that in my next blog, but suffice to say, we are very happy not to have the expense and aggravation of having to put up a new pole and platform this year.

Better late than never, they say, so here is the much overdue wrap-up of our 2016 season, just in time for the 2017 season to begin. The camera is up and operational, and we expect it will go live this week.  We have a new source of some funding this year, and I know you will be very happy with the camera image, including a new infrared light source.  With that said, please enjoy a stroll down memory lane, back to February 2016.

We had a fairly pleasant winter in 2015-2016, with no new pole or platform needed.  A welcome addition of an infrared light source for night viewing was installed on the camera mount by COM. Our good friend Peter Turcik from the Chesapeake Conservancy came to the secret location to help COM put the camera back up after it spent a peaceful winter in the garage.  As we weren’t expecting any action back on the platform until around St. Paddy’s day, the camera was scheduled to be installed on March 9.  However, much to our chagrin (and delight, of course), our first osprey showed up on March 8!  I was home from work the day of the camera installation, and was able to photograph the series of steps required to put the camera back on the pole. You can take a look at the “Hello Ospreys, Good Bye Swans” blog, published 3/17/16, for the full series of photos. Here are a few photos to jog your memory about all the hard work it takes to get the camera operational each year:


Com and Peter carrying the fourteen foot stepladder to the end of the dock. Peter is wearing his Chesapeake Conservancy osprey shirt!



The stepladder is going into the water off the dock.



COM has the cables down to the junction box. Note how gracefully he stands on one leg, sort of like our osprey



Maneuvering the camera to go up the pole



Getting closer-Don’t drop it now!



Mission accomplished!


Audrey didn’t waste any time getting back to the platform after the camera was up:


Did you ever feel like you were being watched?


As I previously said, our first osprey of the 2016 season was spotted on March 8, earlier than usual and a day before the camera was on the pole.  There was much speculation about the true identity of this first osprey, as we had several early visitors those first few weeks.  After many days of careful observation, we officially welcomed back our beautiful girl Audrey!


Audrey in the scraggly stick tree next door to the north



Audrey on the nest with a good view of the camera set-up. The infrared (IR) light is mounted just below the camera on the vertical support



Audrey picking up a prefab nest stick in the COF’s backyard


The drama started early in the 2016 season, as we had many early visitors to the nest platform.   Many questions about gender, actions and intent of these avian visitors were posed by our astute camera watchers.  The experts were contacted about the unusual activity we were seeing.  Our dear friend and osprey expert, Dr. Paul Spitzer, gave us a lesson in some of the fundamentals to successful nest building, two of the most important being the male bringing food to the female and engaging in cooperative nest building.  We did not witness either of these behaviors until the real Tom (our beloved Calico Tom, The Fishing Fool) finally returned to his summer residence on March 31 after fighting an aerial battle with one of the earlier visitors.  The “A Real Head Scratcher” blog, published 3/28/16, has more details about what was going on and many photos.


Audrey and the mysterious stranger on the nest



Audrey is asking Tom why they left warm South America to come to Maryland


Early on during the 2016 season, we experienced problems with the camera and sound, which was discouraging for everyone.  The problems were fixed with help from the Chesapeake Conservancy and our other partners.  During the time before the “And The Weather Gods Were Angry” blog, published 4/11/16,  we experienced some very rotten, cold and windy early April weather, which was the cause of great concern.  Tom and Audrey would take refuge in the trees, and would not be seen at the growing nest. This was a trying time for all!  One morning, they were spotted on the riprap, trying to stay out of the wind.  We hadn’t seen this happen before.


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


April brought a very disturbing incident when a plastic bag Audrey picked up became wrapped around her leg, just before she was due to lay her first egg.  Ospreys have a habit of bringing back all sorts of stuff to the nest, but the bag she found and brought back could have had disasterous consequences.  Fortunately, Audrey managed to pick the bag off of her leg before she laid her first egg on 4/17/16. Her second egg was laid on 4/20/16.  Check out “Patience Is A Virtue”, published 4/21/16, for the rest of the story and photos.

Audrey with the plastic bag wrapped around her leg. This was very hard to watch:


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



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


The third egg was laid on 4/23/16, and then late April and early May brought more than 15 continuous days of rain at the secret location.  On Thursday, 5/6/16, everyone began to notice that Audrey had not been seen since the day before.  COM went back over the recordings of the nest, and determined that Audrey had left the nest at 2:00 p.m. on 5/5, and had not yet returned.  Tom had taken over the incubating duties just after Audrey left, and sat on the eggs all through the night of 5/5, until he also left at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday morning.  At that time, there were three eggs in the nest, the temperature was forty seven degrees and it was steadily raining.  Once again, the experts were contacted about the fate of the unattended eggs, and the news was not encouraging. Audrey returned to the nest at 2:48 p.m. on Thursday, May 6, without a word as to her whereabouts during the time she was missing for over 24 hours.  After Tom and Audrey had raised two foster chicks (and E.T., of course!) in 2015, plans were put into place to look for foster chicks in the likely occurance that the unattended eggs didn’t hatch.  Take a look at the blog “Beautiful Noise”, published 5/12/16, for the rest of the story.



Time to try to dry off! Tom shaking out his feathers


Tom is enjoying a big menhaden on a rainy day:


Tom is still looking wet, probably from a combination of fishing and the weather. This is as close as I got to him, as I wanted him to eat his dinner before the weather went south on him





Squawking Audrey, probably squawking about the sun being in her eyes during the one bit of sun we had in the last 15 days


On 5/27/16, after being exposed to forty seven degree weather in the pouring rain for seven hours, our first egg hatched 40 days after it was laid  The second egg hatched two days later on 5/29/16.  Dr. Spitzer said we were making history once again at our nest. He did not know of any scientific studies about ospreys that addressed what had happened at our nest.  Our infrared light source was working well, although some tweaking was needed as the light was a little too intense.  All seemed right in our little osprey world.  “History In The Making” was the name of the blog that was published on 5/31/16.



Gorgeous sky the last day of May 2016. Audrey is in the nest with Chick #1 and Chick #2. Tom is chilling somewhere in the neighborhood


Little did I know that while I was writing and published that blog, a tragedy was in the making right outside at the nest.  Reports were coming in that an unusual loud crashing noise had been heard on the camera at around 10:00 p.m.on 5/31, and that Audrey was quite agitated.  We checked the nest at first light, and our greatest fears were realized.  Only one chick and the unhatched egg remained in the nest.  COM checked the camera footage from Tuesday night.  The noise that was heard was caused by a large dark shape, probably a Great Horned Owl, that had attacked Audrey from behind, causing her to be knocked off the nest.  During the attack, one of the chicks either fell out of the nest with Audrey or was snatched by the owl.  Audrey sat on the remaining egg for a couple of days, then ate it, with the theory being it had been damaged in the attack.  Our joy at having three eggs laid with two being hatched under such extreme conditions were dashed.  Our faithful osprey experts were once again consulted.  Craig Koppie suggested that we place a scarecrow on the dock to try to repel any future attacks.  Those of you who have been following my blog for the past four years know that nothing makes COM any happier than a good, challenging project.  Out to the garage he went, and a couple of hours later emerged our new friend and Protector of Osprey Chicks, Roger:



Roger, protector of ospreys, at his original location at the beginning of the dock


A few days later, during a visit from our dear Cape Cod osprey lovers and friends Maureen and Gene, COM relocated Roger to the end of the dock:



Roger has been relocated to the end of the dock to be closer to the nest. Maureen and Gene from Cape Cod have stopped by for a visit



Roger doing his thing. He looks like he is doing a little dance


June also brought a rare sighting for us in the middle Chesapeake Bay, pelicans!


We heard the fishing is good in the Chesapeake Bay this time of year

Check out the blog “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”, published 6/30/16, for some fun reading.

We had a brutally hot July 2016, during which time our osprey chick was named Chessie by our loyal camera watchers.  On 7/11/16, Chessie received a beautiful new blue band from Craig Koppie.  The blog “Big Blue”, published 7/19/16, is dedicated to that day, with lots of great photos from the banding process.  Here are just a few of many:


Craig comes back down to readjust the ladder, being watched by Audrey the entire time



Chessie has been eating her Wheaties! What a wingspan!





COM is waiting patiently for the package



Craig gets stung by a jellyfish. Chessie is thinking it serves him right, and cheers on the jellyfish



Chessie has been freed from the towel. From the look of things, I think Craig has held a bird or two in his day




Craig hands the tape to COM.



COM, Chessie and Craig with Roger, protector of the nest. And a fine protector he was, indeed!


For the rest of July 2016, we were all waiting for the big moment when Chessie would first take flight.  During the wait, we were having all sorts of technical problems, making it difficult to take photos and write a blog.  The very hot, humid weather was causing my camera lens to fog up every time I went outside to take photos.  In addition, on the advice of our computer guru, I switched to Windows 10, which wreaked havoc on my ability to download and use photos in the blogs.  Extreme frustration prevailed in the Crazy Osprey Family household. COM was quite perturbed when the infrared light source stopped working, as there was no way to fix it until the camera came down in the fall after all of our osprey family headed to their winter digs.  But our problems melted away for a little while when Chessie fledged on 7/21/16.



Audrey is watching Chessie trying to get her balance



Yapping away on COM’s boatlift motor



What is different about this photo?

In the above photo, Audrey is sitting on top of the camera, and Tom is in the nest. This was the opposite of their usual positions.

This is one of my favorite photos from the 2016 season, taken in July:


Somewhere over the rainbow……………………

More photos and escapades of Chessie may be found in the blog “The Chessie Chronicles Part 1”, published 7/31/16.

Alas, our 2016 season was coming to an end.  Our dear Audrey departed for her winter quarters in South America.  It wouldn’t be long until Tom and Chessie began their arduous trip to warmer climes.  Mysteriously, COM’s infrared light source began working again. Another season of wonderful osprey adventures was almost over.



Tom in the scraggly stick tree



Chessie and Audrey in the scraggly stick tree

“The Chessie Chronicles, Part 2”, published 8/31/16, will fill you in on the rest of the season.

Our 2016 season totaled over 100,000 blog views, bringing our total views to date since the inception of the blog in 2013 to well over 500,000.  The camera was viewed from over 70 countries all over the world.  In May 2016, Tom and Audrey starred in a National Geographic television show “United States of Animals”, as part of the Nat Geo Wild series.  In October 2016, our dear friend and raptor biologist, Craig A. Koppie, along with his co-author Dr. Teena Ruark Gorrow, published “Inside An Osprey’s Nest”. Through incredible photographs and words, this book tells the story of our 2015 season, starring Tom, Audrey, Maine, Montana and E.T.  It is available to purchase through the Chesapeake Conservancy website.

Before I end our Sweet Sixteen, I have some great news to share.  Last April, a very hard decision was made to stop allowing comments on our blog.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the comments, as well as the camaraderie that was developed through these interactions. It was sad not to have the comments, and something seemed to be missing.  After careful consideration and some cajoling by yours truly, it was decided that we would start allowing comments again.  To ensure everyone’s enjoyment of the blog, some rules are being put into place for guidance in posting comments.  It is unfortunate we have to do this, but our only two options are not allowing comments or following the below rules.

Osprey Camera Blog Comment Rules

No stalking or harassing another person, dominating a conversation, discouraging participation by others, or mocking, baiting, bickering, taunting or belittling others.

No submission of comments that may be considered abusive, defamatory, disrespectful, illegal, offensive or disparaging.

Comments should be limited to topics discussing ospreys, osprey nests, other birds, subjects relating to the blog, Chesapeake Bay, nature, etc.  Limited comments about personal matters will be permitted, but long missives about someone’s personal life should not be posted.

The moderator of the blog reserves the right to remove/disapprove any comment for any reason, without having to explain these actions.  

Anyone continually ignoring the above rules will be banned from future comments without further explanation.

Thank you for your understanding and complying with the rules.  We are trying to have the blog and comments remain a wonderful experience to be shared by all.  If the rules don’t work out, comments may be permanently banned.  I am very excited that the comments are returning, so please try hard to be good!

That’s enough for now!  Get ready for another fascinating season with Tom and Audrey.  Who knows what drama will prevail this year?  Welcome back!

Until next time, we remain,

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!








The Chessie Chronicles-Part Two

Good evening from the sultry Eastern Shore of Maryland!  This hot, humid summer just doesn’t want to let go.  Our dear Audrey has headed south for her winter digs, so Tom and Chessie can’t be far behind.  The days are getting shorter, Osprey Girl is back at school and fall is just around the corner.  This will be my second-to-last blog for the 2016 season, with one more wrap-up blog after this one.

August has been a frustrating month for me here at the secret location.  I thought my trusty Nikon D7100 had been acting up, and short of sending it back to Nikon for repair, I was not sure what to do.  Since going to Windows 10, many of the photos I had taken appeared stretched out when I previewed them, and there was no rhyme or reason to which photos had this wacky appearance.  I went to post a couple of these weird, stretched out photos on the blog (so maybe one of you would have an idea of what was happening) and when I posted them, they look normal. Now I am thinking there is some kind of disconnect between the camera and my new Windows 10.  If anyone has an idea of what is happening, please contact me at with your thoughts.  I am going to look around for a Windows 10 class, have any of you taken one that you would recommend?

Here is one of the photos that appears all stretched out on my photo previews.  I was going to use this one as an example of what the funky photos looked like, and when I posted it, voila!, the photo appeared normal.  I am stumped.  Anyway, this is our family before Audrey left, complete with some decorative nest trash.  What do you see that is unusual on the next two photos?  The answer will follow after the photos.


Tom, Chessie, Audrey and a downstairs neighbor


The next photo is from the same series, and on my preview photos, it looked fine. Someone is making a lot of noise, and it is not Tom or Audrey.  Maybe I have forgotten how noisy some of our other young ospreys have been, but right now my vote for the noisiest youngster ever is Chessie. Check out the expression on Tom’s face, it is priceless.



Do you ever shut your yap, Chessie?


The answer to the above question is that Audrey is on top of the camera, and Tom is in the nest.  This is an osprey position that is not usually seen at our nest.  Here is what we are more used to seeing:



Tom back on top!


Here is another family photo.  All three of our friends are on our neighbor’s dock two houses to the south of us:



A little family getaway. This was as close as I could get with all three remaining in place


There has not been much activity at the nest, but there are many ospreys still in the area.  When Tom or Chessie is on the nest, they are quite aware of all the strangers in their midst.  The nest has been visited by some of these intruders, and we have had  several noisy, serious aerial battles between Tom and the unwanted visitors.  On a few occasions, we have witnessed one of the more bold intruders actually stealing sticks from our nest!  Quite the impudent marauding osprey, don’t you think?

Another mysterious occurence is that the infrared light that had been illuminating the nest at night and then stopped working appears to have started working again.  COM has ordered a new light, and was trying to figure out a way to mount it for the rest of this season.  He decided there was no way to reach the camera pole from the top of his fourteen foot step ladder without taking it down, so now he has a nice winter project to keep him busy during the cold months.

As you all know, Audrey has been an exemplary mom to all of her broods, and this year is no exception.  Here are some photos of Audrey and Chessie hanging out together shortly after Chessie fledged.  She was quite attentive to him after he left the nest.



Mother and Son



This is another one of the photos that looked all stretched out in the previews (but posted normally), and was taken shortly after Chessie fledged.  I really like this photo.  You can clearly see the buff area on the back of Chessie’s head, his blue band and the incessant moving mouth.  Audrey is staying quite close:



Chessie and Audrey in the scraggly stick tree


This photo was taken on one of those sultry summer evenings.  I had just gone out to check out my garden, and noticed Chessie and Audrey in the scraggly stick tree with a storm not too far away to the north.  Look closely to see Audrey:



Audrey and Chessie on a beautiful summer evening


I have seen Chessie fishing, but haven’t personally witnessed him catch a fish.  I have seen him dive into the water on numerous occasions, but haven’t seen him come up with the goods. Tom continues to provide sustenance for Chessie, and does a fabulous job responding to Chessie’s incessant yapping for food.  In this photo, I guess Chessie must have wondered what had happened to the fish he had been eating.  Take a close look:



I don’t know what happened to my fish, it was here a minute ago……


We don’t see much of Tom anymore, but he is certainly still around.  He seems to show up early in the morning and later in the afternoon to provide Chessie with a meal.


Audrey has never been one to like her picture taken, but I have managed to grab a few:



Chessie and Audrey


Audrey was not happy about Mrs. COM taking photos close to the water, and decided to relocate:



Audrey in the scraggly stick tree


Audrey decided this was not a good place to make her escape, and decided the nest was a better option after all. In the meantime, Chessie had decided if Mom left, maybe he should also get out of dodge:



What a wing!



Audrey in flight



Back to the nest she goes!




Audrey arriving back at the nest. Chessie has vacated the premises



Home, sweet home all to myself, thinks Audrey



Here is one of the other places Chessie has been seen hanging out in the neighborhood:



Yapping away on COM’s boatlift motor



Not much to grip on to!


It’s easy to tell that Chessie is really enjoying his freedom of flight.  He soars around, swoops up and down and just has a good old time.  I love to watch newly fledged ospreys figuring out just what they can do in the air!



Chessie even yaps in flight, multitasking!


Here are a couple of photos taken this afternoon of Chessie in the nest, all by himself:



Come on, Dad, where’s the beef? (For those of you who remember the old Wendy’s commercials)




I’m over here, can’t you hear me?



The hour is getting late, so it’s time to wrap up for tonight.  If you have any questions, please feel free to post them on the Conservancy’s Facebook page, which I follow.  I will try to answer any questions you have in the final blog of the season, which will I will write when the nest is finally empty.

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!












The Chessie Chronicles-Part One

Good evening from the quiet Eastern Shore of Maryland.  After a week of many violent storms here in Maryland, it is beautiful and calm at the secret location tonight.  On the night of our last Full Moon Dock Party, there was a terrible storm replete with booming thunder, incredible lightening and hail the size of quarters and larger.  I couldn’t bear to look at our osprey friends out there on the nest.  Since the infrared light source is not working, I only could get quick peeks whenever there was a lightening flash.  Tom was no where to be seen, but Audrey and Chessie were hunkered down weathering the storm.  COM and I ran out to pull the cars under the trees so the hail wouldn’t damage them.  A hailstone hit my foot, clad only in a flipflop, and it hurt!  I kept thinking about a hailstone hitting one of our ospreys in the head, and was really worried.  A great sigh of relief could be heard at the secret location at dawn the next morning when Tom, Audrey and Chessie were alive and well back at the nest.

Now that I have brought up the infrared light, let me tell you what has been going on.  As I am sure you have noticed, we lost our infrared (night light) a couple of weeks ago.  Due to the location of the light, it has been a problem to try and fix it.  COM, true to his name, has purchased a new camera with a built-in IR source.  His plan is to use that camera only for the infrared light source, and will try to get it up and running as soon as possible.  So stay tuned, hopefully there will be a light source for your night time viewing pleasure in the near future.

Another question that has come up on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page is regarding the gender of Chessie.  When Craig Koppie was here banding Chessie, he initially thought Chessie might be a female, but was not sure.  He was out here for a dock happy hour we hosted for the good folks at the Conservancy, then stayed for the Full Moon Dock Party (double party night on the dock).  After more careful observation, he is heavily leaning toward Chessie being a male.  So I am not sure which pronoun to use, maybe I will try to stay gender neutral!

My photography the past few weeks has been hampered by the very hot, humid weather we have endured of late.  When I go out to snap a few shots, the camera lens steams up from the transition between the air conditioned house and the lazy, hazy outside air.  I am not sure what to do about that dilemma.

My other big problem right now is that my computer died since the last blog was published.  I have a new PC with Windows 10, which I am trying to master.  Much to my chagrin, the new computer and my Nikon 7100 do not seem to like each other.  I cannot view thumbnail photos, which has been a nightmare.  If anyone knows how to solve my problem, please contact me at Tom_audrey_osprey

Roger continues to grace the end of our dock, and is now like one of the family. When Roger first made his appearance on the dock, every time I looked out the window, I would be startled by the figure who appeared to be making its way up the dock into my yard.  He is still getting the attention of Osprey Girl, who hasn’t yet gotten used to seeing the dapper Roger hanging out on the dock.


Roger swinging in the breeze while keeping peace in the kingdom

The big excitement since the last blog was the day our Chessie took flight for the first time.  In the days leading up to the fledging, Tom and Audrey were spending less and less time at the nest, leaving Chessie to his (I am just using his this blog to keep things easier) own devices.  We are seeing less and less of Tom, who stops by with a fish with regularity, but does not hang out in the nest very often.  Here are some photos leading up to the big day:


Tom, Chessie and Audrey in residence. Even though Chessie is a big boy, he still likes his mommy to feed him

As I was watching this exchange and snapping away, Audrey swallowed a very large piece of something long and slimy.  I think the delectable morsel got caught in her throat and she was having trouble swallowing it.  In the following photos, it first appears that Squawking Audrey is doing her thing when in fact, she is having trouble swallowing whatever piece of fish is stuck in her throat:


Something in stuck in Audrey’s throat. Do you think ospreys know the Heimlich maneuver?



Now Chessie seems concerned about his mom



While Audrey is choking, Chessie is giving us a great view of his buff head and Tom is examining his toenails



Audrey finally is able to swallow the offending piece of her snack


This photo has nothing to do with ospreys, but our butterfly bush (which grew as a volunteer) is a beautiful part of our yard along the riprap:



Our beautiful butterfly bush gracing the waterfront


I have to look around to find Tom these days, and he is not usually in sight.  I found him one day on our neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south:



Tom with his catch. He is eating his fill before taking the sloppy seconds to the nest


Tom was watching me approach his location.  He continues to be very camera shy.  Maybe he thinks I want his fish?



Tom takes off with his fish as Mrs. COM approaches his location. Look at those striking feathers!


Tom flew right back to the nest with the bottom half of his fish.  Unfortunately, the camera was in the way when I took this photo of Tom landing in the nest:



Tom landing in the nest with a fish snack for his family


Tom has delivered the fish to Audrey and decides to hang around for a while.  Chessie is eyeing up the fish:



What are you waiting for, Mom? If you don’t want that, I’ll take it, thinks Chessie



Audrey digs in while Chessie and Tom are occupied elsewhere


Something has gotten Tom and Audrey’s attention.  Chessie only has eyes for Mrs. COM, who is on the dock with a camera:



Chessie tries to stare down Mrs. COM, who has been stared down by many other ospreys in her photography career


Okay, I couldn’t resist.  Another non-osprey photo of Mrs. COM’s quiet place, her garden:



Mrs. COM’s garden looking good in mid summer


I don’t think anyone can deny what a good osprey mom our Audrey is, but she does need a break once in a while.  The scraggly stick tree in the backyard one house to the north of us is a favorite hang-out:



Regal Audrey taking a break in the scraggly stick tree. She is on high alert as Mrs. COM approaches with the infernal camera



Audrey heads back to the nest and her motherly duties



Audrey arrives back at the nest where Chessie awaits


Photos of Tom, Audrey and Chessie all together in the nest are becoming harder and harder to capture, as Tom doesn’t stay in the nest very long.  Here is a series of photos when Tom returned to the nest.  Check out Chessie’s red eyes as compared to Audrey’s yellow eyes.  Added color is provided by COM’s marked sticks:



This is a great example of the difference between an adult and juvenile eye color


When Tom does return to the nest, he frequently sits on top of the camera where the sound of his talons scratching the highly technical K-Mart trash can camera cover can be heard:



Our Family


As I mentioned earlier, there have been many violent storms at the secret location this season.  Here is the sky over the nest as one of the storms was passing over and before it started raining:



And the Weather Gods were angry!!


After the storm passed, we were treated to a glorious rainbow:



Somewhere over the rainbow……………………


As our 2016 season progresses, the downstairs neighbors have been busy raising their family in the basement apartment.  Their chirping can frequently be heard when the camera sound is working. Here are two of them:



Audrey hears the downstairs neighbors. I think she wants to call the building superintendent to complain about the noise


Audrey and Chessie are both in the nest while the downstairs neighbors are having their party:



A quiet afternoon in the nest interrupted by the noisy neighbors



Chessie and Audrey both spot Tom return to the neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us



Here is what Chessie and Audrey have spotted. They must think dinner is on the way, but not this time.  Tom took off right after this photo was taken



Audrey and Chessie are watching Tom circle overhead


Audrey decides to take off after Tom and leaves Chessie unattended:



Chessie is all alone, and Audrey is photobombing while enroute to give Tom an earful





Audrey in flight



Audrey is headed out



Audrey lands on top of a large tree two houses to the north of us. Look way up high!



A closer view of Audrey on top of the tree.


Audrey was not happy when I headed closer to her tree, and took off again:



Audrey heads back to the nest, not wanting to hang around for another photo op by Mrs. COM



Chessie watches his mom return to the nest


On Thursday morning, July 21, 2016, the big moment arrived.  With much grace and determination, Chessie lifted off into the great blue sky.  We all knew the day was close, and watched her exercise her wings for many days before the big event.  No one was home at the secret location to witness first flight in person, so we did not know in which direction Chessie had flown.  When I returned home, I walked up and down the waterfront searching for him.  I looked in all the regular places, as well as along the riprap and on docks where some of our fledgings have landed on their first flight in years past.  But Chessie was no where to be seen.  At around 2:00 p.m., I looked out the window, and saw an osprey way up high in the big tree.  I ran outside and put the binoculars on the bird, and much to my relief, I was able to see a blue band on the osprey’s leg.  Our Chessie was back!



My first sighting of Chessie after he fledged, on top of the big tree two houses to the north of us


Shortly after I spotted Chessie, I saw Audrey fly over to the big tree and join Chessie.  I guess she was worried too!



Audrey joins Chessie in the big tree. What a good mom!



Audrey is watching Chessie trying to get her balance



This isn’t as easy as sitting in my nest! How do you do this, Mom?



Chessie is getting the hang of sitting on a small branch in a tree. Audrey remains near by for moral support



Check out that blue band, like a beacon in the wilderness!


I was very, very happy to have found Chessie in the big tree, but I bet Audrey was happier!  Thanks for the blue band, Craig Koppie!


This is the first photo I have of Audrey in the nest by herself since her eggs hatched.  She looks kind of lonely:



Something is missing, thinks Audrey. Where is my baby?



Audrey is looking at something flying by. Could it be Chessie?


In the meantime, the pelicans are still hanging around the secret location:



The pelicans are still hanging around, not a typical sight at the secret location



The lighting was not very good, but you can see the sparklies that I like as the pelican flies by


Here are a few more photos of Chessie as he explores his new surroundings:



Chessie has discovered the scraggly stick tree next door



Chessie has learned how to hold on tightly in the scraggly stick tree



Chessie has also discovered the crazy woman with a camera who likes to stalk ospreys


The next day, Chessie was flying around discovering all kinds places to explore.  Here he is in the big tree two houses to the north of us trying to hold on:



How embarrassing! She’s taking my picture and I can’t hold on!



This is not as easy as Mom made it look



I have to get away from this crazy woman


Chessie had incentive to take off (me!).  And there he goes:



Chessie in flight



Chessie is getting further away


In the next several days, I will post “The Chessie Chronicles Part Two”.  I have many more great photos to share.  Hopefully, I will get my new computer figured out so I am not so frustrated!

Please remember to send in your entries for our “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest.  Send a photo of someone watching the ospreycam to, and include your first name and from where you are watching.  Your photo will be published in the next blog.

Our views are rapidly approaching 500,000 with over 498,000 as this blog is written.  Get your guess in now as to which date we will go over the half million mark!  A great prize is in store for the winner.

That’s it for now, as the hour is late and wake-up is early in the morning.  So for now, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!



















Big Blue

Good morning from the hot, muggy Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We have had some very uncomfortable weather here at the secret location the past couple of weeks, and I always feel so badly for our ospreys during these brutally hot days.  There have also been some very heavy rain storms, replete with gusty winds, thunder and lightening.  Our big excitement since the last blog was the announcement of Chessie’s name, then the banding of our very feisty young osprey.  As you have probably noticed on the ospreycam, Chessie has been catching a lot of air during her training sessions, and is very close to first flight.  A couple of nights ago during a big storm, she was hovering up so high that I felt sure a big gust of wind was going to carry her away from the nest.  My heat was beating wildly watching the potentially harrowing situation unfold.  I was so worried that I had COM get his lifesaving gear ready and he put on his bathing suit in case we needed to initiate a rescue at sea!  Fortunately, Chessie came down in the nest, but we were really, really worried about her well being that evening.

I have decided to dedicate this blog almost entirely to Craig Koppie and Chessie, the stars of the recent banding.  Of course, COM will get Best Supporting Actor, and I will designate myself Chief Historian of the event.  I was at work the day Maine and Montana were banded last year, so was very happy to be present this time to memorialize the day. There are photos galore, so without further adieu, here is the story of Chessie’s banding in pictures and words.

A couple of weeks ago, as Chessie was getting bigger and bigger (quite rapidly, it seemed), COM contacted our favorite raptor biologist, Craig Koppie and inquired about the possibility of banding our miracle chick.  As Craig tells the story, he took a look at Chessie’s tail, and decided he better get out to the secret location without delay before we had a fledging on our hands. On Monday, July 11, Craig came out with his bag of tricks, and the adventure started:


Craig and COM prepare for the banding



COM gets the ladder into the water while Craig changes into his water shoes


Audrey and Chessie are in residence, but Audrey is sounding the alarm and Chessie is keeping a low profile:



Audrey is keeping a watchful eye on the preparations


As COM and Craig carried the ladder through the water to the nest, Audrey decided it was time to vacate the premises.  Since Chessie can’t fly yet, she was on her own:



Audrey takes off leaving Chessie to her own devices



Craig and COM are carrying the ladder out to the nest. COM is keeping an eye on Audrey, who is circling them while protesting loudly


Audrey was not happy with the intruders, and kept circling and making a series of loud, unhappy calls:



Audrey in flight while keeping an eye on the intruders



Audrey continues to circle while squawking loudly



“Should l dive bomb them now or later”, thinks Audrey


Meanwhile, COM and Craig put up the ladder, all the while keeping an eye on the perturbed Audrey :



COM and Craig keeping an eye on Audrey while putting up the ladder



This looks like a good spot


A discussion ensued as to the proper placement of the ladder.  Audrey has continued to circle and protest:



A very wet conversation. Maybe they should have talked about this before they got in the water!


COM goes back to the dock to retrieve a box in which to carry Chessie back for banding.  Craig remembered that one of the boxes had a hole in it and asked COM to check it out:


Checking the box for holes. Another mission that could have been completed on the dock!


Satisfied that the box is intact, COM brings it out to the nest:



Bringing the box out to the nest to transport Chessie back to the dock


With all the equipment in place, Craig started up the ladder.  Audrey is still very unhappy:



Craig gets ready to go up the ladder Audrey is still circling and complaining loudly



Starting up the ladder


Craig was almost there, but decided the ladder needed to be moved to be able to get into the nest safely:



Hmm, something is not right





Craig comes back down to readjust the ladder, being watched by Audrey the entire time


Once the ladder was readjusted, Craig started up the ladder again:



Let’s try this again!


When Craig got to the top, he did some housekeeping around the nest so he wouldn’t get poked the eye.  Then it was time to find an osprey:



Chessie is barely visible peeking out of the left side of the nest, but she can’t hide from the raptor biologist who has come to band her



Going for the grab





Craig has Chessie by the legs.  Check out the wingspan on our little baby:




Chessie has been eating her Wheaties! What a wingspan!


Now Craig had to gather Chessie up for a safe trip down the ladder and into the transport box:



Craig prepares Chessie for the trip down the ladder



Let’s see you try climbing down a 14 foot stepladder in the water with a very angry osprey in one arm



Craig gets a good hold on Chessie



Almost at the bottom of the ladder with the Best Supporting Actor waiting to do his thing



COM is waiting patiently for the package



COM and Craig are admiring the beautiful Chessie



Craig gets stung by a jellyfish. Chessie is thinking it serves him right, and cheers on the jellyfish



COM is being very careful with his precious cargo. Chessie is judging how close she needs to get to COM’s thumb to have a taste


Craig, Chessie and COM arrive back at the dock.  Craig climbed out of the water onto the dock to take the transport box from COM:



Back to the dock. Chessie has taken a defensive stance



Up on the dock goes Chessie


Time to band the osprey!



Craig is getting his equipment ready out of camera view while Chessie plots her escape



Chessie is getting braver and takes a look around



Not one step closer, you crazy camera woman!


With all the equipment ready, Craig begins the banding process, which starts with getting ahold of an osprey:



The flying hand of fate getting ready to remove Chessie from the transport box


When Craig took Chessie from the box, her talons were caught so the first order of business was to release her talons from the towel:



Chessie’s talons are caught in the towel, so Craig carefully untangles her



Someone needs a manicure


Now that Chessie has been freed from the towel, the banding can proceed, but not before feisty Chessie tried to take a chunk out of Craig’s hand:



Chessie has been freed from the towel. From the look of things, I think Craig has held a bird or two in his day



Take that, you brute!  Chessie goes for blood


Craig is nonplussed, and continues his mission.  The first step is to place the metal band around Chessie’s leg:



The band goes around Chessie’s right leg


Next, the band is tightened:



Tightening the band



Making sure the band is on properly. Chessie is trying to read the number


Next, Craig enlists COM to help with the tape:



Craig hands the tape to COM.



Craig used bright blue tape for Chessie since Maine and Montana had yellow and red tape last year.



Chessie really wants a piece of COM this time



“I wonder if a piece of this one will taste better than the piece I had of the other one?”, thinks Chessie



Doesn’t COM look like he is telling Chessie he is sorry? Not sure what Chessie is thinking, but I don’t think it is good!



Check out Chessie’s pretty new Big Blue Band


Now it is time to get Chessie back into the nest, but not without a photo op first:



COM, Chessie and Craig with Roger, protector of the nest. And a fine protector he is, indeed!


Chessie has really had enough of all this nonsense, and is ready to go back home.  She was none too happy being back in the transport box:



Take me home now, please



Chessie thinks there have been quite enough photos taken already, thank you very much



Ready for the trip back to the nest


Back into the water they go, COM with the transport box, Chessie (who is just along for the ride) and brave Craig, with his camera clutched to his body to avoid the drink:



Back to the nest they go


Meanwhile, Audrey has been back at the nest since the birdnappers left with her baby:



Squawking Audrey sees the wagon train a comin’ and decides it’s time to get out of Dodge



Oh, no, not them again.  Time to go!



That baby of mine needs to learn how to fly


Craig spies another photo op, and since he has his camera, decides to stop and take advantage of the opportunity:



There’s no time like the present to take a photo or two. Water, what water?



The Three Musketeers arrive back at the nest. Audrey has taken up her circling and noise making


The careful process of placing the newly-banded Chessie back in the nest commences:



Out of the transport box and back in Craig’s loving arms



The ascent back up the ladder begins



Slowly I turn, inch by inch…………



Don’t look down!



Craig steadies himself for the final push to the summit (how dramatic)



Careful now, almost there!



In you go, Chessie!



Craig’s faithful companion is below, alert and at the ready, waiting for any signs of a problem



Craig begins his descent from the summit. with his camera hanging precariously around his neck just waiting for the strap to snap



Look who is still circling! Audrey is a faithful mother, but not a stupid one.  “They can’t get me here”, she thinks



Chessie is on high alert, while Audrey photobombs Mrs. COM’s bucolic scene. The ladder is still in place



“Please get that ladder away from me, it is making me nervous”, squawks Chessie



Mission accomplished, and the equipment goes back to shore



Audrey arrives back at the nest immediately after the ladder is removed



Audrey and Chessie are both squawking loudly, hopefully saying “Home Sweet Home” in ospreyspeak


It’s hard to believe that the entire banding operation only took about fifteen to twenty minutes from start to finish.  I was so overwhelmed at Chessie’s beauty, she is simply a magnificent bird.  To my neighbors who I stood up for lunch, I hope you can now see why you dined without me at the last minute!

I have taken many more photos since the last blog was published, but will save those for next time as the hour is late.  Please remember to send in your entries for the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest.  You may send them to, along with your guess as to the date our blog views will go over 500,000.  We are over 495,000 this week, so get your guesses and photos in to win a cool prize!  Here is our winning entry for this week.  After fooling with this photo for over an hour with my technical advisor (Osprey Girl), we are unable to get the photo oriented properly, so turn your head to view it (your challenge for today!):




Laurie watching the ospreycam from somewhere on Park Avenue South in New York City


As always, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!




















Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood

Good evening on this last day of June from our secret location on the delightful Eastern Shore of Maryland!  This month seems to have gotten away from me, so I will try to make it up to you with double the photos this time.  There have been many changes in our little osprey family since my last blog.  As I was sitting at my computer working on the May 31st blog, unbeknownst to me, a great drama was taking place in the dark over the water behind our house.  I was joyfully writing about our history in the making, describing the events leading to the hatching of our miracle chicks. To my great horror early the next morning, reports were coming in on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page and by text to my phone of a large crash into the nest/camera around 10:00 p.m. the night before, and the demise of one of our little miracle chicks.  We did not hear the commotion as our windows were closed, and we keep the camera sound on mute inside of the house. COM reviewed the tapes from the previous night, with the events being visible due to his installation of an infrared light source at the beginning of the 2016 season. He was able to capture the shadowy, blurry image of a large bird swooping down on the unsuspecting Audrey, knocking her almost off the nest and causing the disappearance of one of our beloved, newly hatched chicks.  We have had some discussion as to whether the bird (probably a Great Horned Owl) snatched the chick or if the chick was knocked out of the nest when Audrey was blindsided.  The attack happened so quickly that it was impossible to tell from the video footage what actually transpired.  It doesn’t really matter how it happened, but our chick was gone and one egg remained unhatched.  A couple of days later, Audrey broke into the remaining egg, and consumed the contents.  A working theory on the third egg is that it was damaged in the attack and nature took its course.  A few very sad days here at the secret location, going from “the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat” in a very short time.  Will the drama at our nest never cease?

But life goes on, doesn’t it?  I am sure you have noticed that our remaining chick has grown by leaps and bounds, much more quickly than other chicks of a similar age that have been raised by Tom and Audrey in our nest.  It’s a spunky chick with quite a personality, and we are so thankful to have an only child this season. Calico Tom the Fishing Fool is living up to his name, and the fish just keep on coming.  In a few days, our chick will have a name after the voting closes at the Chesapeake Conservancy.  My vote was for Lucky, as it just seemed apropos for this year’s chick.  But the majority will rule in our democracy, and we will soon know what to call our baby instead of “the chick”.

Very shortly after the incident at the nest, the Crazy Osprey Family was contacted by Craig Koppie, our favorite raptor biologist.  He suggested that we put up a scarecrow to try and keep the predator away from our remaining chick.  You know that Crazy Osprey Man got his moniker for a reason, and off to the garage he went.  A couple of hours later and my only good hat gone (I didn’t have the heart to tell COM, he worked so hard on his project), we had a new family member.  Enter Roger:


A view from the backyard of Roger in his original position with Tom hanging out on the boat lift



Tom is keeping an eye on Roger, who doesn’t seem the least bit concerned


Notice the very clean boat cover in the above photo.  Please remember this clean cover for comparison in future photos.


Suave Roger keeping things safe



Roger, protector of ospreys, at his original location at the beginning of the dock



Roger in his first location on the dock close to land


And of course, no scarecrow would be complete without night lighting, so Roger’s presence is not only felt but seen all night long!  Thank you COM for being the Crazy Osprey Man that you are!

When Craig Koppie first suggested that we try Roger as a possible defender against unwanted visitors, he suggested that we place him at the beginning of the dock.  As the days went on, a decision was made to move Roger from his original location out closer to the end of the dock nearer to the nest.  On the day of the big move, the Crazy Osprey Family was honored to have wonderful visitors, Maureen and Gene from Cape Cod.  Maureen has been a faithful camera watcher and blog follower from the start. Her witty lyrics to the tunes of some of our favorite songs and her continuing cheerful and positive attitude have made her a welcome addition to our little osprey family.  COM and I were delighted that she and Gene were able to join us for a fun-filled day at the secret location:



Roger has been relocated to the end of the dock to be closer to the nest. Maureen and Gene from Cape Cod have stopped by for a visit



Gene, Maureen and COM enjoying a beautiful day at the secret location. COM has just finished relocating Roger to the end of the dock



Roger in his new digs at the end of the dock



Wider view of Roger at the end of the dock. Nobody will sneak up on his watch!



Don’t tell Roger, but he has a stick up his rear end. Ouch!



Roger is keeping a close “eye” on the nest. Or is the nest keeping a close eye on Roger?



Roger doing his thing. He looks like he is doing a little dance


We are so happy to have Roger as part of our osprey family.  I guess we will never know, but he seems to have done his job to protect everyone at the nest.

After all of the excitement at the beginning of June, things seemed to have calmed down and osprey life is moving forward.  The little one has lost its down and is now starting to sport real feathers.  It is truly unbelievable to me how large the chick has grown in just a little over four weeks.  Tom and Audrey continue to be exemplary parents, and take incredibly good care of their baby.  Here are some photos of the daily lives of our favorite osprey family, all of which have been taken since the last blog was published:



Tom on COM’s boat lift, which is one of his favorite places to hang out


Sometimes after Tom has been fishing, he will arrive back in the area looking very wet and bedraggled.  The top of the camera assembly is another of his favorite places, and turns out to be a great place to dry off:



Sometimes when you can’t see Tom, you can hear him scratching around on top of the camera assembly



Tom loves to sit on top of the camera. He is catching the breeze trying to dry his wings after a very wet fishing expedition



Tom drying his wings on the top of the camera


When I am home, I usually keep one eye on whatever I am doing and the other eye wanders to the windows to try and catch a glimpse of a photo op.  Here is a series of photos of Tom after he caught a fish and took it to the neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us:



Tom with a fish on our neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us



Tom taking his fish and leaving. He doesn’t feel like sharing with Mrs. COM today



Tom on the downstroke with a foot and a fish trailing



Tom in flight with his fish, holding on with one talon


When you are watching the ospreycam, it is usually Tom who likes to sit up on the observation posts (actually the nest supports).  Once in a while Audrey likes to sit up high and enjoy the view from the top floor:



Audrey on the viewing tower on one leg


In seasons past, I have posted many photos of our various ospreys sitting in the big tree two houses to the north of us.  For some reason, this year neither Tom nor Audrey is spending much time up that way.  Maybe it is because there is another osprey pair nesting very close to the big tree.  Earlier in the month, I observed Tom fly off to the big tree with a fish after I unceremoniously chased his away from our neighbor’s dock while trying to snap a few photos:



Tom in the big tree two houses to the north of us with a fish with a deeply notched tail


Here is a wider view of the big tree.  You can barely see Tom sitting up near the top of the leaf canopy on the right side of the tree.  If you look closely, you can see one of the other ospreys who nest near the big tree sitting to the left of the tree on a piling.  Their nest is to the right of the big tree on a pole in the water five houses to the north of us:


The big tree two house to the north of us. Tom is over to the right up near the top of the leaf canopy


Here are some photographs of Tom and Audrey in the nest.  It is hard to see the chick in most of the photographs, but he/she is starting to be more visible from vantage points on land and the dock:



Tom and Audrey are checking something out. The chick’s head is visible between its parents and the nest support to the left of Tom and Audrey



Good lighting and a bucolic scene with the sailboats on the horizon


I have been putting a lot of sticks out in the yard, and both Tom and Audrey have been picking all of them up:



Not sure how some of those sticks are still hanging in there. One of COM’s marked sticks is barely hanging on near the middle of the bottom of the nest



Two parents keeping a watchful eye



Tom on his viewing post, Audrey close by and the chick is hunkered down


This is a quiet Father’s Day on the dock with Roger keeping guard.  The Full Strawberry Moon Dock Party was the next night.  Could anyone hear us howling?



A quiet Father’s Day on the dock with Roger. It wasn’t quiet the next night with 25 happy howlers at the Full Strawberry Moon Dock Party


Audrey takes a little break from the nest to do her thing on the boat lift.  What is that white stuff on the formerly clean boat cover?



Squawking Audrey on COM’s boat lift. “Hey, COM, that’s not my mess down there, go talk to Tom”


The chick is starting to be visible unless a parent sounds the alarm, then it flattens out and cannot be seen from land:



The Happy Family-all three visible on 6/19/2016



The chick flattens out when Mrs. COM is on the prowl with her camera and the alarm is sounded of an intruder in the area


The crows always seem to know when one of our ospreys is enjoying a fish meal near by.  As Tom enjoys his meal on our boat lift, a patient crow is waiting for sloppy seconds:



Tom and a patient crow on COM’s boat lift. COM is not going to be happy when he sees that boat cover



Tom decides if the crow left, maybe he should be thinking about moving on



Tom arrives back at the nest with provisions


One of our many rainy days this spring:



A dreary, wet day at the secret location. Tom is hanging on COM’s boat lift



Tom on COM’s boat lift looking rather wet



Tom leaves the area. All my fault!


Audrey and the chick sharing a quiet day at the nest. I must have been standing on one foot when I took some of these photos, they seem a little lopsided:



Audrey and her offspring sharing a quiet moment at home



Audrey gives the alarm call and the chick disappears from view



Tom arrives back at the nest and the all clear signal is sounded



After Calico Tom the Fishing Fool brought home dinner, Audrey feeds the young’n



Tom and Audrey at the ready, but the chick just wants another bite


Audrey doesn’t leave the nest too often, but as the chick is getting bigger, she has been leaving for longer periods of time.  Even when she isn’t in the nest, Audrey is not far away:



Audrey on COM’s boat lift, a rare visit


Tom has been taking some squawking lessons from Audrey:



Squawking Tom emulating Squawking Audrey in full voice. Stay away from my fish, you crazy woman!



Tom on the nasty poop deck (dock) next door to the south



Tom checking out Mrs. COM and that darn camera



When Tom took off with his fish, the crows moved in for the spoils on top of this piling


As I am sure you know by now, one of Tom’s favorite places is the swim ladder on the dock two houses to the south of us.  Our neighbors that lived there for over twenty years just moved at the beginning of June.  One of my first orders of business when I met the new neighbors was to explain that they may be seeing a crazy woman with a camera traipsing through their yard to take photographs of birds on their dock.  I very politely asked for permission to continue my pursuits, and they very graciously approved.  I am sure Tom would have much preferred that they said no trespassing, but Mrs. COM saved the day.



Tom is hanging out on his favorite swim ladder, now owned by new, very nice and understanding neighbors


Sometimes staying vigilant and looking out the window really pays off.  As I was doing some dishes this morning, I glanced up and saw something very unusual for this part of Maryland:



We heard the fishing is good in the Chesapeake Bay this time of year-a flock of pelicans flying over our osprey nest!!!



Hey, this doesn’t look like Florida!



Flying in formation, ready for the airshow



Maybe the Blue Angels can adopt this new five “man” formation (sorry for the bad lighting, no choice)



Getting ready to dive for breakfast


Pretty cool, huh?

Please remember to send in your photos for the “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest.  Send a photo of yourself watching the ospreycam from wherever you are.  Please include your name (first name is fine) and the location, and I will post it in my next blog.  Send your photo to A winning photo will be selected at the end of this season with a prize to follow!

We are up to over 491,000 views of the blog since its inception in 2013.  Please send in your guess for the day we will have our 500,000th view!  A great prize will be awarded to the winning person!  You can send your guess to the same email listed above for the photo contest.



William watching the ospreycam with his grandparents on Kent Island, Maryland


The hour is drawing late, and it’s time to close out another blog.  Remember to get your votes in for our chick’s name (it’s a Lucky chick, isn’t it-hint, hint!) on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page.

Until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!












History In The Making

Good evening from the incredibly beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland!  Our seemingly never-ending streak of rainy, dreary days appears to have come to an end. It is a delightful evening here, with temperatures in the high seventies, low humidity, spectacular cloud formations and ospreys everywhere.  I was finally able to plant my vegetable garden, the purple wave petunias are nestled around the mailbox post and my deck planters are an array of color for the eye.  But the best part of all, according to Dr. Spitzer, is that we are all a part of history in the making!  On Friday, May 27, despite being left unattended for seven hours at forty-seven degrees in a steady rain, Tom and Audrey’s first egg hatched forty days after it was laid.  The first hatch was quickly followed two days later by the second hatch on Sunday, May 29, thirty-nine days after the egg was laid.  We are anxiously waiting  to learn the fate of Egg #3, and should know something definitive within the next few days.  So far, for the first two eggs, we are in the typical hatch window for our nest of 39-41 days, with June 1 being day thirty-nine for Egg #3.  Even the experts have been stumped by what has happened at our nest this season. And everyone is walking around with big smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts at the arrival of our miraculous chicks!  COM and I are also happy because Osprey Girl is home for the summer, and all is right with the world.

Here is a photo taken by Osprey Girl of the incredible sky early this evening, complete with osprey pole and nest:


Gorgeous sky the last day of May 2016. Audrey is in the nest with Chick #1 and Chick #2. Tom is chilling somewhere in the neighborhood


I wanted to say a few words about the camera and images that you see.  We have had the same good quality, mega pixel camera for the last three seasons.  Nothing has changed with the camera with the exception of the addition of an infra red light source which COM installed just before the ospreys returned this season.  He spent an inordinate amount of time at the end of the dock fooling with the infra red light source and camera before it was installed on the pole.  I helped him test the IR light source at night, trying many different combinations of filters, running back and forth to the house to observe the results on our monitors, making homemade filters out of plastic containers, and trying it all again and again.  We thought we had it right and the image looked good before Tom and Audrey returned.  But alas, once the IR source was mounted on the pole, and our friends returned from their winter vacation, the light was just a little too intense.  The camera is out of reach now, so nothing can be done to tone it down, but we will adjust it for next season.

The other issue is the quality of the images you see from the ospreycam.  Rest assured that we are producing the highest level of quality that is possible given the constraints of the system.  The camera is fine, but we are limited by the internet connection between the camera and the distribution point, which is not at our location.  The connection is limited by the upload speed of the internet service available coming down the road to the secret location, and is beyond anyone’s control at the Chesapeake Conservancy or from the Crazy Osprey Family.  In layman’s terms, the quality of the image you see is not a camera issue, but a bandwidth issue. (at least, that is how it has been explained to me, and as you know by now, I am somewhat technically challenged).

Okay, enough technical talk, back to the ospreys!  I witnessed something very comical the day that Chick #1 hatched.  Audrey was alone on the nest, and took off, leaving the newly-hatched chick by itself.  Oh phooey, I thought, here we go again.  Audrey took a loop around our yard, took one of her daily constitutionals, and immediately returned to the nest, not missing a beat!  What a good mom, she didn’t want to take a chance of soiling the nest with her new baby.  I had never noticed her do that before, and it was quite amazing to watch. I promise, no more poop stories or photos for the rest of this blog (well, maybe one).

After some initial tentative fish supplying, Calico Tom the Fishing Fool has once again proven himself to be an expert provider for the nest.  I especially love to watch the chicks pass out after their bellies (actually crops) are full.  Tom is sometimes hard to spot when he is not right at the nest or at one of his usual haunts.  But Audrey knows when he is on his way back home, and always welcomes her man with vociferous greetings!  If COM and I are on the end of the dock enjoying a little happy hour, we always know when Tom is approaching without ever looking for him.  Squawking Audrey leaves no doubt as to his approach, and is even louder (if that is possible) when he is returning with a meal.

You may have noticed that Tom and Audrey have been spending a fair amount of time defending the nest and trying to shoo off unwelcome passers-by.  There are a significant number of ospreys and nests in the neighborhood around the secret location.  The closest nest is five houses to the north of us, just north of the big tree.  There are two ospreys occupying that nest.  I am reasonably sure that one of them is the osprey that was hanging out at our nest early in the season before Tom returned, possibly an offspring that was raised in our nest.  When I go walking, there are ospreys everywhere.  I will ask Osprey Girl to take a loop around the neighborhood by water and count the active nests around our area.  I will report back on her findings.

It’s that time again!  The “Where In The World Are Tom and Audrey?” contest is officially open!  Please send a photo of yourself or anyone else watching the ospreycam on any of your devices.  Send the photo, along with your name and from where you are watching.  I will post your photos on each blog.  At the end of the season, the contest winner will receive something cool from the Chesapeake Conservancy.  Not sure what your prize will be, but it will be cool!  Send your entries to and keep an eye out for your submission to be posted on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, the views continue to go up and up.  The total number of views since the blog inception at the beginning of the 2013 is season is rapidly reaching HALF A MILLION!  Wow!  We are over 485,000 views as of earlier today.  In that light, please send your guess as to which date the blog views will hit HALF A MILLION to the above email!  It will be this season, so get your guesses in.  If you are the winner, a cool prize will also be coming your way!  Make sure to include contact information in your email.

Here are some of the photographs that have been taken since the last blog was published.  I hope you enjoy them!


After Tom catches a fish, he will eat first.  The male has to be fed before anyone else to ensure the survival of any osprey family. Without Tom to bring home the bacon (fish bacon, that is), no one would eat very well.  As you have noticed, he will usually eat the top half of the fish, and bring the bottom half back to the nest.  Here is Audrey on the dock two houses to the south of us, on her favorite swim ladder with her fish snack:



Audrey on the swim ladder with her sloppy seconds. I do believe she is squawking!



Audrey: “Are you kidding me? Can’t a girl get a peaceful meal alone?”



Audrey at the end of our dock. The crab pots will be in the water shortly



Once again, Mrs. COM has gotten too close. Audrey does not stay to hear what I have to say



Tom is on his observation post while Audrey incubates



Tom is taking his turn incubating. Audrey is doing what she does best, squawking


Audrey is enjoying the tail end of her fish.  You can see the deep-notched yellowish tail, so this is a menhaden.  I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about poop, but this dock gives new meaning to the term “poop deck”:



Audrey is sitting on a piling at the end of the dock just south of us. I’m not sure I would want to have happy hour out there!  Nasty!



Audrey has that far off look in her eye


And off she goes!!!



Escaping from Mrs. COM’s incredibly annoying camera. Cool reflection!



Flying low



Skimming the water


Guess who?



Need I say more?



Audrey in the scraggly stick tree.  Guess how many fingers (talons, actually) I have up?



Ah, that feels better!



Who is trying to sneak up on me? I see you!


Audrey loves this swim ladder.  She frequently sits here while eating and to take a little break from the nest:



How does she do that?



If you look carefully, you can see Audrey’s left leg tucked up into her belly


Another favorite hang out of Tom and Audrey is the scraggly stick tree one house to the north of us:



Audrey is trying to decide whether to leave or stay


This is a good view of the infra red light source attached to the camera pole.  It’s the silver device mounted on the pole just under the covered camera.  Don’t you love COM’s fancy K-Mart trash can camera cover?



Audrey is patiently incubating her eggs. At this point, we weren’t sure if they were viable. You can see one of COM’s marked sticks down in the nest


We have loved living on the water at the secret location for twenty seven years.  One of my absolutely favorite phenomenon is when the sun hits the water at a certain angle and the breeze is blowing at a certain speed.  If the two come together in just the right way, the entire surface of the water sparkles and twinkles until it is blinding.  I have dubbed this phenomenon “the sparklies”.  You can see just a few of the sparklies in this photo:



Tom, his fish and two mooching crow friends on COM’s boat lift. Love those sparklies!!



Mrs. COM has chased off the crows, but Tom could care less and just wants to enjoy his fish


This photo was taken the day that Chick #1 hatched, and shows the second feeding:


Tom proudly sits on his observation post while Audrey feeds her newly hatched chick



Tom is looking at Mrs. COM while Audrey continues to feed newly hatched Chick #1. This photo was taken from the end of our dock



Here is a series of photos of Tom and Audrey while Chick #1 is being fed:






Out of my way, woman!



What’s going on down there?



Dad is in the house!



Are you going to eat that?



Well, if you aren’t going to eat it, I’ll finish it



Tom takes the left-over fish and flies away to enjoy it in peace



Notice the deep-notched fish tail, probably another menhaden. Tom is heading to the dock south of us




I wonder what Tom and Audrey are discussing?



Tom, Audrey and an eavesdropping downstairs neighbor



You watch for intruders from the North, and I’ll watch for intruders from the South



These are the faces we will use to scare them off!



Tom is finally enjoying the sun on COM’s boat lift


I hope you have enjoyed my latest batch of photographs.  The hour is getting late, and I have another early wake-up tomorrow.  So until next time, we remain-

Crazy Osprey Man, Mrs. Crazy Osprey 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 today.  Thanks very much!













Beautiful Noise

Good evening from the relentlessly soggy Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Since I wrote the last blog, we have had rain in some form for the last fifteen days.  People (and ospreys) do crazy things when the weather is this dreary.  My purple wave petunias, destined to be planted around the mailbox, have taken up residence next to the back door, still in their plastic trays.  My vegetable plants, stirring up wistful visions of 4th of July tomatoes from the garden, are sitting on the deck with sodden feet, as the ground is too wet to plant anything.  The grass looks verdant and happy, as it grows with unabashed enthusiasm, but it is too wet to mow on a regular schedule.  And here I sit with the weather prediction of yet more rain to come.  I guess the weather gods are still angry!  But the extremely good news is that our Audrey is back, making more noise than ever.  The only good thing about all this bad weather is that we have to keep our windows closed most of the time.  This doesn’t stop us from being able to hear all of her squawking, however, it does keep the decibel level down to a dull roar!  But after our recent incident, I am so very happy to hear all of Audrey’s beautiful noise!!!!!

Since the last blog, we have had some excitement (isn’t that an understatement!).  The arrival of our third egg on April 23 was a happy day indeed.  I missed the blessed event, as I was enjoying my forty year college reunion with 29 sorority sisters in a Midwestern state known for its horses.  It was a most wonderful weekend for all of us sixty-somethings.  As far as egg laying goes, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief not to have a fourth egg this year.  The time from an osprey egg being laid until hatching ranges from 35-42 days.  In our nest, we seem to have a range of 39-41 days.  I’m sure you can all do the math, but here it is in black and white for your viewing pleasure:

Anticipated Hatching of Tom and Audrey’s Eggs 2016:

Egg #1 laid April 17, hatching range May 22-29

Egg #2 laid April 20, hatching range May 25-June 1

Egg #3 laid April 23, hatching range May 28-June 4

Now, the above dates are all based on the premise that these eggs are viable.  No one knows for sure what will become of them after our Audrey went missing in action for over twenty four hours, which leads us to the next story.

The sun rose on Thursday, May 6, 2016 to a very wet, cold and dreary day.  Tom was sitting on the nest, incubating the eggs, with Audrey no where to be found.  We checked all the usual places on docks and trees in the area, and there was no sign of her.  Going back over the video from Wednesday, May 5, she had departed the nest around 2:00 p.m., and did not return that day.  Here is the last photo of Tom and Audrey before she disappeared for over twenty four hours:


Tom and Audrey about an hour before Audrey disappeared for over 24 hours. The downstairs neighbor is enjoying the view


A little over an hour after the last Audrey sighting on Wednesday, an adult Bald Eagle was seen sitting in the big tree two houses to the north of us.  This is one of the usual places that Tom and Audrey like to hang out when not in the nest:


An adult Bald Eagle, enemy of the osprey, sitting in the big tree where Tom and Audrey like to hang out.  This is the same place the eagle was sitting when Tom was dive-bombing him the next day after our couple’s return


Tom sat on the nest and incubated the eggs for the rest of Wednesday, all that night and into Thursday morning, with the exception of nine minutes at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night when he was off the nest.  At approximately 8:05 a.m. on Thursday morning, he took off and the eggs were left exposed to the elements.  At 9:00 a.m., the temperature was 47 degrees and it was raining.  It was so eerily quiet without Audrey’s usual begging calls for a meal. As the hours went on, we became more and more worried about the welfare of our osprey pair. There was no sign of either Tom or Audrey at any of their usual haunts until approximately 2:48 p.m., when Audrey returned to the nest from who knows where.  As unhappy as all of you were, evidenced by the comments on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Facebook page, you can only imagine how we felt here at the secret location.  It’s one thing to look at an empty nest through the camera lens, and quite another to be staring out the window at the driving rain and wind, with the pole and empty nest staring right back at you.  We have very large picture windows on the water side of the house, and there was no escaping that view, devoid of any sign of an osprey no matter where we looked.  I just knew something horrible had happened to Audrey, because I did not think she would ever leave her eggs unless she couldn’t get to them.  COM was a little more optimistic about Audrey’s well being, and thought she may be trying to protect herself and stay out of the elements.  I was already thinking about an obituary blog for Audrey, and was just numb thinking about what had happened to her.

So what does the Crazy Osprey Family do when the going gets tough?  All together now, we ask the experts!  We contacted our osprey experts, and here are a couple of thoughts we received from them while Tom and Audrey were missing and the eggs were laying bare:

Dr. Spitzer’s comments:

We don’t really know much about vulnerability of osprey eggs to prolonged cooling early during incubation.  So once again you may be extending Osprey Science.  Of course, if they do resume incubation you will have to wait until term for Proof of the Pudding.  Then do as last year if necessary.

Julie Zickefoose, in  her recent book “The Bluebird Effect” (Houghton Mifflin, available via Kindle for $10, which may not do justice to her splendid artwork) has an excellent chapter on her long-term work with Tree Swallow nests.  In rotten weather, these (largely) insectivores may abandon incubation for several days–then resume under more favorable conditions, with continuing egg viability.  This book also has an excellent osprey chapter.

Of course this is an epic run of rotten weather.  Generally ospreys just hunker down for that long incubation, despite their recent return from the tropics.  Early bad weather doesn’t appear in egg viability data as a problem, as far as I know–I am copying three long-term osprey colleagues (Poole, Scheibel, and Bierregaard) on this.  There is general agreement that prolonged wet, cold weather post-hatch does substantially depress nestling survival.  But little nest abandonment (that we know of) under current, albeit rather arduous, incubation conditions.

Dr. Bierregaard’s comments:

Sounds to me like something happened to Audrey. Has she been seen today? 18 hours on the nest for a male is very strange. 

 I’ve seen birds off of eggs in really miserable, cold, rainy, windy weather for at least 2 hours and all eggs hatched. Ospreys have a very thin down layer and females do not have brood patches, so Osprey eggs never really get all that warm under incubating adults. I believe this explains their very prolonged (38 days or so) incubation period, which is about a week longer than similar sized raptors—a real outlier on the curve.

Good luck!

Of course, our dear friend and raptor biologist Craig Koppie has offered to help find foster chicks for our nest again this year if we suffer a repeat of last season’s failure to hatch.  I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

So the waiting and watching begins yet again here at the secret location!

This rotten weather has made for some terrible conditions for taking photographs, but you know I cannot resist.  So here are some photos for your viewing pleasure, all taken since the last blog was published, most with terrible lighting.


Audrey sitting in the scraggly stick tree. She will sit here sometimes after finishing a fish while Tom tends the eggs



Audrey in a stare-down with Mrs. COM. She has been letting me get a little closer of late.


Tom has taken a liking to sitting down low in the scraggly stick tree:


I can’t do a thing with my feathers in this rain, thinks Tom


I was taking a few nice photos of Audrey in the nest when Tom decided to take a swing by the nest:


Osprey Photobomb!


Tom also likes to spend time on our neighbor’s dock two house to the south of us.  One of the spots where he likes to perch is the boat lift:


Tom perched on my neighbor’s boat lift two houses to the south of us.



It’s Tom’s turn to have a stare-down with Mrs. COM


Mrs. COM has gotten a little too close for Tom’s liking, and off he goes:


Tom captured in flight as he makes a mad dash to escape from Mrs. COM and her infernal camera


This photo isn’t centered very well, but neither was the photographer as I was spinning around trying to capture the action:


Calico Tom, the fishing fool


Tom headed back to the nest:


On approach to the nest during the escape run. Audrey is ignoring him



Arriving! The downstairs neighbor doesn’t seem too concerned


Over the last four years, I have discussed Audrey’s raucous utterings (a nice way to say loud, obnoxious, continual squawking).  As I have mentioned in the past, when the windows are open during the nice weather (what’s that?), we have to mute the sound on our osprey watching computers in the house.  There is a seven second delay between what is happening in real time, and when those sights and sounds are broadcast over the internet. So we hear every squawk in stereo, first coming from the outside in real time, then on the computer, hence the muting inside.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy, but I will never, ever complain about that beautiful noise again!

Here are a few photos of Squawking Audrey (Donald Trump’s nickname for her):


Squawking Audrey doing her thing in the nest



Squawking Audrey, probably complaining about the sun being in her eyes during the one bit of good weather we have had in the last 15 days



Squawking Audrey making her presence known from our neighbor’s swim ladder. She is probably squawking at Mrs. COM this time


Here is a fun series of photos during a shift change, featuring Tom and once again, Squawking Audrey:


Audrey arriving back at the nest after finishing her fish. Tom looks pretty comfortable and is not looking like he wants to leave



They both see something. What could it be? A lady with a camera, perhaps?



Squawking Audrey living up to her moniker



Tom has had enough, and decides to let Audrey have her way. See ya later, Audrey!



Ah, mine, all mine, thinks Audrey, as she settles back down on her eggs


We have been seeing a lot of wet ospreys in the last couple of weeks:



Wet Audrey on a dreary day sitting down low in the scraggly stick tree



Wet Tom trying to dry out on our boat lift. This is during the same bit of decent weather when Audrey was complaining about the sun in her eyes.


Here is another series of photos featuring Tom on our boat lift, one of his favorite haunts:



Wet Tom perched on our boat lift. Check out those talons! I’m glad I’m not a fish when Calico Tom the Fishing Fool comes calling!



Time to try to dry off! Tom shaking out his feathers



After shaking out his feathers, Tom stands on one leg. This is probably as close as he has ever let me come to him


The final series of photos for this blog shows what Tom does with a fish after he catches it and before he brings the back half to Audrey.  The fish is a menhaden, which has a very deep-notched yellow tail (although this tail is rather bloody).  When I first noticed Tom in the scraggly stick tree with his fish, he must have just landed.  The fish was still intact and flapping furiously against Tom’s strong talons.  Although it was really unsettling to watch, the photo op was too good to pass up:



This is shortly after I noticed Tom sitting down low in the scraggly stick tree with his fresh catch



The fish continued to flap furiously as it was being eaten alive! Nature can be brutal



Dinner is served



Tom is getting a better grip on his prey



Multitasking-Eat and poop while your photo is being taken



Another big bite. By this time, the flapping had slowed down considerably



This is a good view of how Tom eats the fish from the head down



It takes a long time for Tom to eat his fill



Taking a little break from the fish, who by this time had stopped flapping (much to my relief)



Tom is still looking wet, probably from a combination of fishing and the weather. This was as close as I got to him, as I wanted Tom to eat his dinner before the weather went south on him


Last night, during a brief respite from the rain, COM and I went out on the end of the dock for a quick happy hour.  Our dock happy hours have really been curtailed due to the continuing inclement weather.  While we were sitting there, Audrey, who was sitting on the nest and being reasonably quiet for her, started raising a ruckus.  We looked around, and noticed Tom very close to the nest, but about two hundred feet in the air.  As we watched, he came diving down, crashed into the water and snagged a pretty big fish.  We hadn’t been able to catch Tom in the act of actually catching a fish this year, so we were thrilled to witness the Fishing Fool at his best! When Tom flew off with his meal, that really got Audrey going in full squawk mode with her beautiful noise.  So much for our peaceful few minutes on the end of the dock with a glass of wine and some cashews!

I will leave you with a photo from the last full moon.  I had just returned home from my nine hour drive after the reunion weekend.  The moon was so beautiful shining on the water and nest, I dropped my suitcase on the deck, and ran to get the camera.  It’s not the best photo ever taken, but wasn’t bad for a quick shot in the dark:



April 2016 Full Moon at the secret location


Time to wrap up this blog, for it is now the wee small hours of the morning, and wake-up (once I go to sleep) is just around the corner.  Until next time, we remain-

COM, Mrs. COM and Osprey Girl (soon to be home for the summer-yippee!)

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!










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!