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 gift that keeps on giving...This platform was a Christmas present from my mom. She made a donation to NJ Conserve Wildlife for them to install an osprey platform in the marsh behind my house. In March of 2010 volunteers arrived, and within an hour, the platform was ready for business. Many ospreys used the platform as a dinner table throughout the summer, but no birds used it to nest. In 2011, two ospreys build a nest and laid one egg. The chick hatched on June 25, 2011. Soon after, there was a noreaster that blew both the chick and nest off the platform. A friend and I put a piece of plywood on the platform and placed the osprey chick back in the nest. The parents returned to the nest. That same day a chick from another nest, whose nest was also destroyed in the storm, was placed on my platform for the adults to foster it. It worked!
In 2012, a pair hung around all spring and summer, but never nested. It appeared to be the same pair (the female is banded), but I can't be positive.
2013...so far, so good! Incubation has begun.