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.
Arrived down the shore on 3/16/13 - first observed both male and female perching around nest then female on 4/20/13 was laying low in nest, appeared to be nesting an egg. Daily I have observed mating. As of today 4/25/2013 female has been low in nest. Do not know how many eggs,as the nest is too high to see from were I stand, but I know at least one egg.
Observance of nest from 3/24/13 to 3/29/13 shows the pair at nesting platform and also on a bunch of tree branches a distance from the platform inwards towards the bay to the right of platform. As I left Margate on 3/29/13 observed Male eating on a piling near a nest platform across from Williams Island near the metal crossbar heading out of Margate on Margate Blvd. I will be returning to Margate on 4/9/13 for a period of 3 weeks.