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.
This nest was built on the end tall pilings and cross boards of a pier. All of the boards have been taken down and only the pilings remain. The male osprey returned 3/11/15 and sits on the pilings for long periods all day long.
On 7/22/14 my two grandsons and I observed the nest for several hours. We have been going to the river weekly and have enjoyed seeing the chicks learn to fly and begin fishing. On this date, only one chick remains and appears to be the last hatchling who was always the smallest. He stood calling from the nest all of the two hours except for one quick flight. The mother returned one time and stood on a nearby platform but did not so to him. She stayed for just a few minutes. The others from this nest were not seen on this date whereas previously they were in the trees nearby.
On June 1 I took my two grandsons to the river to observe. I set up my scope so they could see. After the second child watched for a while he suddenly exclaimed: "Grandmother, there are three babies". The older grandson was skeptical and had to look. He was surprised that his little brother was correct and a third hatchling could be seen. The female was busy tearing up a fish and feeding the other two, finally nuber three stood up and started demanding food also and he was fed. The biggest chick even unfolded its wings and stretched. All very entertaining for my grandsons who are now avid osprey watchers.
Mother was actively feeding two hatchlings when I arrived at the River. The male was sitting on his usaul piling but he was keeping an eye on a laughing gull that was on a nearby piling who was watching the female feed the hatchlings. Both hatchlings seemed strong with good head control and mouths that were wide open demanding food.
I monitored on May 4th and May 11th. On May 4th the female was still low in the nest incubating eggs. However, on May 11th her behavior has changed. For most of the hour she did not sit, but stood over the nest site. She had spread her wings to keep that area cool. She was constantly grooming herself and looking into the area that she was sheltering. I did not see chicks but at this point my assumption is that the eggs have hatched. The male was nearby on a piling..at one point he left to fish and returned to the piling to eat the fish. He did not carry it to the nest and there was no feeding behavior. It was mid day so perhaps if there are chicks, they have already been fed. I will continue to monitor to confirm my thoughts.
3/29/14-I have monitored this nest each week. On 3/29/14 the male was sitting on a post below the nest. The nest is now large and deep. The female is sitting low in the nest and I can only see the top of her head. After 30 minutes the male left to go fishing while the female stayed and called out often.
3/9/14--walked to the James River site. The female was sitting on the edge of platform-the nest that had been blown away late last fall had now been rebuilt. The male soon returned with a stick he placed in the nest. He then mounted the female and soon flew away. He returned frequently with sticks. I think based on the extent the nest is rebuilt that they must have returned around the 7th. Nearly exactly the same date as the last two years. AMAZING!
I have observed this nest on two occassions, each for one and a half hours. On the first watch the female was still sitting in the nest but no sign of egg rolling or feeding. Today, both the male and female were sitting on the edge of the nest and both seemed completely uninterested in the nest. After an hour they both left and after about 30 minutes the male returned and sat on a piling. At this point I am concluding that this is a nest failure. Perhaps there was a second attempt that also failed.
I observed this nest twice over Memorial Day Weekend. There was significant boat and ski mobile activity and Mom sat very still on the nest. There was no sign of Dad.
Today Mom was on the nest for over an hour. She began to call and Dad came with a fish. He sat on a nearby piling and began to eat. Mom kept calling and Dad finally flew to the nest with the fish. Mom grabbed the fish and flew down to the piling and ate. I observed for another half hour and Did not see any feeding behavior. Dad incubated the eggs while Mom ate. This nest had the adults return several weeks before the nearby nest and last year hatched eggs three weeks before that nest. This year that nest already has hatchlings.
I have observed the nest on three occassions. Today the male was on a piling with a fish. He sat there for 40 minutes without eating it or taking it to the nest. Mom sat on the nest and was not active. I assume that the eggs have not hatched for they would probably have been feeding the young the fish the male caught.
I have observed the nest on 3/16,and 3/27. The nest is fairly completed at this time-no more activity of bringing branches. The female was actually sitting fairly low in the nest on 3/27 but sat up higher when the male returned.
3/8/13-Returned to the River to observe the nests and discovered that both male and female were on their nest. Male was flying off a very short distance and returning with branches. Female moving branches around.
3/11/13-Observed pair for 1 hour-female sitting on edge of nest-male eating a fish on a nearby post-Female calling to him the entire time but he stayed on his post and ate the entire fish-several gulls kept trying to steal part of the fish.
8/7/12 I have visited the nest twice and have not seen parents or the hatchlings on the nest after July 15. I have seen fledglings in near by trees which may include one or more from this nest. It has been great fun monitoring this nest!
On July 7th I observed the nest and Chick 2 has now fledged but was returning to the nest. On July 15th I observed and both fledglings and Mom were absent. Dad was sitting on his favorite big branch that extends over the nest. He remained there for the hour I observed but no one came to visit.
I observed the nest on June 26th and July 1. On June 26th chick one was helicoptering above the nest. He would flap his wings, rise in the air about three feet, maintain that lift, and then settle back down in the nest. All the while he was learning this he was hitting his sibling in the face with his wing flapping. Finally his sibling climbed onto the rim of the nest and moved out on the large branch to get beyond the flapping. On July 1 chick one was in the nest and chick 2 was on a piling just below the nest. After much time preening, chick 1 took a small flight around the river. Several osprey have been observed in the area that the males from this nest and the one near by have consistently driven away. They appeared and suddendly dad takes off and escorts sibling one back to the nest. He lands, hunkers down, and immediately goes asleep. My, flying is exhausting! Chick two remained on the piling with Mom near by.
6/18/12 I have observed the nest twice since last diary entry, the last being on 6/16/12. The two hatchlings are now about five weeks old and are growing rapidly. They are at least half the size (plus) of Mom-they both stood in the nest and gave clear views on June 10th. This weekend there was a lot of boat traffic and jet skis nearby and the hatchlings stayed low in the nest for the two hours that I observed. Mom stood guard for much of the time but finally went into the nest and hunkered down. There was no feeding activity and no sign of Dad.
6/2/12--Now that I own a scope I can observe much easier and see so much more. It is amazing how large the hatchlings have become at little over three weeks of age. Both parents present-Mom left several times to go a little distance to get small branches-heavy rain and storm last night seems not to have fazed either nests. I could observe the hatchlings bright red eyes as they ate what seemed to be left over fish in the nest. Dad came back and forth but never brought additional food. Hatchlings seemed satisfied.
Today I was able to see two very stron and thriving hatchlings moving about the nest and flapping their tiny little wings. After nearly an hour, Dad came with a very small fish and mom began to feed them. Their necks are strong, although still a little wobblie. I am guessing them to be about ten days old. I was able to confirm at feeding that their were only two in the nest. They open their bills very wide and then seem to be all bill.
5/10/12-Female on nest-acting much differently-not sitting so low in nest-very active-constantly shifting around and moving something (eggs) with her feet-this continued entire two hours I watched. She sometimes appeared to be looking under hershelf-perhaps she hears activity in the eggs-I don't think any have hatched at this point-Dad caught a fish and carried to a piling below nest but sat there entire time eating it himself. Mom did not seem interested in the fish, which was flopping around alot at first. Dad did not seem interested in taking it to the nest. I continued to watch thinking if eggs had hatched I might see feeding behavior. If incubation started on 4/10, my best estimate, it won't be long until hatching happens.
03/10/2012 Today the female appeared to be sitting on eggs (very low in the nest with only her head showing). Male sat on piling, later left for about 25 minutes. When he returned, female stood up in nest, male entered nest, and they switched places. She flew away and he seemed to settle down low in the nest, probably over eggs. In about 15 minutes she returned with a large twig and proceeded to add it to the nest. He then flew away and she settled into the nest. I visited the nest with a scope on March 30th and at that time female appeared to be on eggs. I can not see into the nest even with a scope.
Today the female was sitting low in the nest and was very vocal, sounds seemed different. Male sat on piling and after 15 minutes jumped in the nest, mounted the female, and copulated. He then flew away and came back about five minutes later with a stick and put it in the nest. The female got on the edge of the nest, male did some nest fixing, flew to pilings for ten minutes and female got back in the nest. Male flew away for ten minutes, came back to piling for ten minutes, got up on his large stick and sat there for over an hour. At that time, he jumped into the nest again and soon copulated. After that he flew off again.
This nest now have neighbors about 50 yards away, a pair who have just begun a nest.
03/20/12 Both male and female present. Male on his branch that extends from the nest, female on piling below the nest. After about 20 minutes the male flew off and kept circling over the shrubs by the shore. Eventually he dove and carried something small back to the nest. he sat there for a while, then jumped down on the pilings. the female went up to the nest and rearranged things a bit, then seemed to settle into the nest. Nothing else happened for the rest of the hour.
On the 10th of March the female was sitting on the platform, the male was flying overhead the entire hour watch period. There were just a few twigs on the platform. On the 12th only the female was present and the beginning nest was taking shape. On the 16th of March the nest is of significant size. The female stood in the nest preening for 30 minutes, then hopped down on a piling for a time, then returned to the nest to stand and preen. During this entire time, the male stood on a very large branch that hung out over the platform. It is amazing that they could carry such a large branch to their platform. The female called to the male several time and once he jumped into the nest with her for a few minutes and then went back to his perch.