This is on a 45' pole that was installed by Florida Power & Light Co. at the southwest c/o Beville Rd. (SR 400) and Clyde Morris Blvd. (CR 483) The nest was used successfully last year I believe, though I missed seeing the fledgling leave the nest since
Look for 2 adults on the nest. The adult pair will show pair bonding behaviors such as vocalizations, aerial sky dances, and the male feeding the female fish. You may see the pair copulating, which typically begins 14 days before laying eggs.
Females will lay 1 - 4 eggs at a rate of one egg every 1 - 2 days. After laying, incubation starts. Look for adults taking turns sitting low in the nest incubating eggs. The incubation period can last 35 - 43 days.
Chicks hatch ~39 days after incubation begins. Look for adults bringing food to the nest and making "head bows" into the center. Chicks typically can't be seen until they are 2 - 3 weeks old, so feeding behavior is the only way to know chicks are there.
Around 4 weeks after hatching, look for the heads of chicks to show over the rim of the nest, particularly when adults bring food to the nest. Other times they lie flat and are harder to see. Count the number of chicks in the nest before they learn to fly
Chicks begin flying around 7 - 8 weeks old, and are still fed by the adults. Count the number of chicks who have successfully fledged the nest and are observed flying.
Chick Last Observed
4 - 10 weeks after fledging, chicks begin leaving the nest area to migrate south, once they have learned to fly and feed themselves. Record the date that the last chick left the nest.
Look for signs of nest failure like adult abandonment, adults no longer incubating eggs or feeding young.
The 4/13 date is arbitrary. The birds were seen engaged in courtship flights and carrying nesting material but a completed nest was never accomplished. I have not seen either adult at the nest since around 04/02/17. The nest is on a sturdy platform but it was almost completely wiped clean by Hurricane Matthew on 10'07/16.
My best guess for the initiation of incubation was 03/05. The female had been incubating and barely visible in the nest until Thursday, 04/07. On this date the male flew into the nest with a small fish and the female appeared to be feeding a youngster. Though there's no way to be certain of this. Today, 04/10, she was observed getting up and moving about the nest as if there's a hatchling or two in the nest now. Confirmation once the chicks are big enough to be seen above the edge of the nest.
I've been watching this nest almost daily since the 1st of the year. I live nearby and drive by this location 8 to 10 times per week. I saw individual birds there on the side of the nest but never saw a pair. Last Saturday, 3/5/16, I saw an adult sitting in incubation position and now daily since. On Thursday, 3/10, I saw a 2nd adult arrive at the nest carrying a fish and incubation duties were exchanged.
I first noticed behavior consistent with what I believed to be hatching on Wed., 4/15 but from my vantage point I'm unable to see into the nest. Yesterday, 4/26, I saw a chick's head above the edge of the nest for the first time. It was clear from the behavior of the adults when one would return to the nest with a fish that they were feeding something down in the nest that was too small to be seen from down on the ground.
2/8/15 is the first date I saw both adults at the nest. Site was used for roosting during winter months by what appeared to be one of last year's offspring. 3/12 was the date I first saw incubation activity.
After an initial nesting failure, a pair of birds began to refurbish the nest and was first seen at the nest on 5/8. On 5/13 copulation was observed while I was pumping gas into my car at the nearby convenience store.
Wednesday, 3/26 was the last day I saw an adult incubating. It's possible the eggs were damaged by the adults since the nest was very shallow and the birds had spent little if any time refurbishing the nest.
Even after the 07/20 date the youngster was seen periodically in the area. Sometimes in the nest eating a fish he brought in. In the past 10 days, beginning about 09/25, an adult was seen carrying nesting material into the nest. However, I have not seen any activity there in the past 3 days.
Today, as has been the case for the past 4 or 5 days, Jr. is on his own at the nest. I haven't seen either adult in a week or more. Jr. was eating a fairly large fish that I assume he caught himself. He stays around the area and has been sitting on the nest and a nearby parking lot light pole.
I was by the nest this afternoon and Jr. isn't so "junior" any more. he's the size of his parents, though the male hasn't been seen at the nest in some time. The female brings a fish and leaves it for Jr. to consume by himself. She returns to the nest around sundown. So far I've yet to see the chick trying out his wings.
I've posted a photo taken about an hour ago. It's now 16:57 on Friday, 5/10. Jr. looks to be doing fine. I watched Mom feeding him yesterday and this afternoon she left the nest and flew out over a nearby retention pond before returning within a few minutes. I don't know if this is the first time the little one has been left on his own since hatching or not.
I'm doing some educated guessing when I say that the clutch hatching took place on 04/08. This is based on the fact that it's been more than adequate time since incubation began and the fact that the adult is sitting higher in the nest and looking down frequently, as if tending to a nestling. So far I've not witnessed feeding behavior but no doubt I will soon.
I first saw one of the birds in the nest back in mid January. I saw single birds in or near the nest almost daily from then on. Feb. 21st was the first time I saw both adults in the nest. One or both birds were often perched on the edge of the nest but there was no other sign of courtship that I saw. On March 6th I saw the female in obvious incubation position for the first time.
This will be my last post for this nest. On two occasions now I've seen the fledged young bird sitting in the nest. The first time he was eating what I assume was a fish. Was it one he caught himself in the nearby lake or one brought to him by an adult I couldn't find when the observation was made? Since he/she (there seem to be "necklace" markings across the upper chest) fledged from the nest I haven't seen or heard the adults in the area. Since the nest has been used in the past, I expect it will be again. When it is I'll be back with its story.
As my post of 6/13 indicates, there's only one chick in the nest now. Was it nest fratricide? Was it one of the Swallow-tailed Kites I've seen floating through the area snatching a chick left unattended? There's no sign of the other chick on the ground but that doesn't mean it wasn't there at some point.
Again, having been out of town for nearly 2 weeks, I was thinking that the nest had been in incubation for too long a period of time. Now, based on finally seeing the chicks appear above the edge of the nest, I'm estimating that they hatched out on 4/27. The larger of the 2 chicks appears to me to be about 10 days old. They appear healthy and were being shaded from the hot sun by the female when I saw them yesterday, 5/4/12. I'll try to get some digiscoped photos in a day or two.
After being out of town for just over a week, I was worried at first that the nest had failed. I looked from several angles but was unable to see the female incubating. Finally, I got to just the right spot and saw that she was indeed up there. This was just a brief visit while on my way to the store. No doubt had I been observing longer, I'd have seen her rise to turn the eggs or seen her mate return with food.