3/10/2012 Observed the beginnings of a new nest in dead pine. One mature Osprey was observed delivering new branches/twigs to the nest, and two mature Osprey were observed on perches just below the nest less than an hour later. This site is very close to a previous nest site that was lost during a hurricane in 2011.
What to look for
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.
Knowing that there was some "disagreement" regarding the nest and territory, we visited this site several times throughout the month of March. The battles with the Red-taileds continued for several more days, and we also observed what seemed to be a similar territorial battle between the Osprey pair and an adult and (probably) 3rd year Bald Eagle. We are happy to report that the issue appears to have been settled in favor of the Osprey pair since about mid-March, and that incubation appears to be underway on 4/5/2013.
Checked this nest on 3/3/13 and saw only the male and no nest reconstruction efforts. Watched a Red-tailed Hawk bully the Osprey off the nest and then lurk around the area. Returned on 3/5/13 to find both the female and male on the nest, and that major renovation to the nest had taken place. Red-tailed Hawk pair bullied the Ospreys off the nest, but they soon returned and the male resumed delivery of nesting material. Will be interesting to see how this possible territory battle plays out.
Very sorry to report that this nest has failed. After watching about a week's worth of consistent behavior that indicated feeding of nestling(s) - regular fish deliveries and subsequent attention focused down into the depth of the nest - we arrived on 5/16/2012 to find that both parents were off the nest. Seemed odd, but we didn't want to draw any immediate conclusions. All subsequent visits to the area had both adults perched or hunting nearby, but they are no longer attentive to the nest. This is an experienced pair that we've seen nest successfully for the past few years, so we're not sure what has happened. We strongly suspect that there was at least one nestling present for at least a week, and that the nest has failed due to predation.