Chestnut Neck. (contributed by Tim Hendley).This nest is directly across the Mullica river from Chestnut Neck Boatyard. It was constructed by John Rosky and Tim Hendley between Christmas and New Year 1996. Its companion nest is across the Mullica, in a southerly direction. Cost of both nests: $100. total. These 2 nests were the first to go up in this area. John Rosky had previously put nests in the Margate area. The CNB nest was first occupied in 1998. Between then and Hurricane Sandy (2012) 19 chicks were successfully raised. I kept a detailed diary of the nest, each year, but sadly lost the whole thing when my house was flooded with 2 feet of salt water thanks to 'Sandy'. Since 2012 (no diary) a further 6 approx chicks have come from this nest. For unknown reasons, the second nest, across the river to the south, did not take ospreys until about 2001. It has produced chicks each year since then but I have not kept a count/diary for that nest. Ballpark I would guess about a dozen chicks between then and this year (2021).So, these two nests, put up in1996, have produced about 37 chicks in 25 years .... a very worthwhile project. But, please, M/M Osprey, do not bring plastic bags to your nests each year in March when you are rebuilding your nest. Incidentally, I set my watch by your annual return..... March 21, 23 or 25!! . .
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.
Today I went past several nest platforms on the Mullica River. At two there were active battles between interloping males. One was playing out at this nest, which has failed to produce young for the past two years (at least). And - there is an empty platform right across the river. I guess this spot has the best view?