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.
I stood in the marsh and observed activity here for a while. The pair has built a nest on the boom (or crane). This is an active crane, so this could be a problem. It's significant that BOTH SEXES brought material to the nest.
Nest still empty. There were 4 Ospreys in vicinity this am. Two were close by and vocal on structure in water (perhaps this pair had built the nest on the platform), one was on nest across river, and one was a flyover.
I'm not sure what's going on here. When I arrived in pm, two Ospreys were on the platform. There was a fair amount of vocalizing. I took some photos. One Osprey eventually took off (a female?) and headed right over me. Please see photo. Do I consider this a failed nest or what? It now appears to be nothing more than a nesting platform with misc. nesting material on it (including what looks like a recently added piece of chain link fence). And it appears to be nothing more than a perch.
Observed 6 Ospreys around nest this am. One stayed in the nest most of the time, and another visited regularly but never landed. Not sure why. And each time it appeared to land, the female(?) fought it off. Nest is only slightly bigger. No sign of incubating.
A magical moment. I no sooner had exited my truck just before dawn @ 7:15 am when an Osprey showed up out of nowhere and alighted on the nesting platform. It stayed only moments, then bolted with a purpose. First sighting of the year. Sometimes timing is everything. I hadn't seen it prior to this, and didn't see it again during my visit.
Visited at 2:00 pm. No Osprey. Ospreys have shown up nearby, but none have shown up here so far. Also checked out a platform I just discovered on the Kinder Morgan Elizabeth River Terminals property. No sign of Ospreys there either.
Observed this am. I saw 2 Osprey while there. Presumably the male parent and juv. One of them oh so skillfully picked up a small fish from the water's surface. It was a sight to behold. Also, one of them briefly tussled with an adult Bald Eagle that entered its territory. The Bald Eagle dwarfed the Osprey, but the Osprey succeeded in chasing the eagle away.
Visited this am. The juvenile was on the platform, then flew to a nearby perch in the river. An hour or so later it became excited as the male parent approached and landed nearby. Both then flew to the platform and the parent delivered a fish. (The male appeared smaller than the juv. Perhaps the juv. is a female?) The juv. then vocalized for perhaps 10 minutes straight, with its wings held partly up (to protect the prey?). It didn't eat. The parent then left, the juv. stopped vocalizing, and it proceeded to eat the fish.
I'd never seen this behavior before (needless to say), and was surprised that the juv., about 6 weeks into the fledgling period, is still partly dependent on a parent for food. I also couldn't help but wonder if the female parent had migrated. It probably has.
Observed this am. The family of 3 is still here. When I arrived, 1 was on the platform perch. While I was there, two perched side by side for some time and vocalized much of the time. Interesting vocalizations that I was able to record.
Visited early am. Observed 1 Osprey on the nest. Assumed it was the juv. Later, both this bird and another Osprey (parent?) hunted together in close proximity--and with some vocalizing--over the river. No sign of 3rd family member. Before I left, one of the Ospreys chased off an adult Bald Eagle.
Visited late morning with my wife. The family of three was around. Shortly before we left, all were soaring at different altitudes above the river--and drifting south. We wondered aloud if they were migrating. Then as we left, we looked at the platform. And for the first time since the youngster fledged, the platform was occupied. One of the three was on the platform perch. My guess? The family will be around a little longer.
Visited this am. All 3 around, and as has been the case, all were in close proximity to one another. Female buzzed me when I arrived. A huge ship (Strategic Venture--a cargo ship sailing under the flag of Singapore) came through at one point, and one of the Osprey (the male?) flew over to it, flew alongside, landed, and briefly hitched a ride. Juv. begged for food from time to time. Still odd to see the nest 'abandoned' and out of use.
Visited early this morning. All 3 around. The female, still in defense mode, buzzed me three times with talons down. Observed the juv. hunt in front of me and over the marsh. It was unsuccessful. It sat on the rock berm for awhile, then flew up to where the female(?) was perched, where it proceeded to beg for food (high pitched screams).
Visited this morning. All 3 were around, and some were hunting (and catching their quarries). Even though the juvenile had fledged a few days ago and wasn't close by, the female calling, and with talons out, still buzzed me anyway.
Stopped by this am. Same situation. All 3 were away from the nest. The juv. was atop a nearby pole the whole time. One of the adults--probably the female--buzzed me once or twice, still protective of its offspring as if it were still in the nest. I still can't believe that it was just yesterday that I saw the juv. hover above the nest for the first time. And now it has flown.
Observed again from 5:45-7 pm. None of the Ospreys was in the nest. Presumably, the juvenile had fledged during the day. All 3 Ospreys were perched in the vicinity of the nest. The juv. has entered a new stage!
Observed from 7:45 -8:45 am. Female on perch. Juv in nest. Male visited and then perched nearby. While I was there, the juv. wasn't active. Then, as I got back to my truck I turned around for one last look. This is the first time I've observed this. The juv. went to the edge of the platform, vigorously flapped its wings, and then briefly went airborne above the nest. A special moment. A very special moment.
Visited from 8:15-10:15 am. When I arrived the juv. was standing in the nest and flapping its wings. A good sign. As soon as I got past the gate, the female began to call, then left the nest, flew to where I was, and wheeled above me with her talons down and open. She'd never done this before (traveled that far). She clearly didn't want me around. She did this 3 times as I walked to my usual spot to observe the nest. She'd fly above me, return to the nest, reapproach etc. She then returned to the nest and settled down. The juv. hunkered down, and only stood once while I was there. The male showed up once or twice. Several times while I was there, the female appeared to hunt over the marsh. She hovered with talons down. She never dove. I couldn't help but wonder if she were showing the youngster how to hunt. Several times another Osprey or a crow approached. The female let out a guard call(?) each time.
Visited from 6:30-7:30 pm. Usual alarm calls. Unlike what I've observed in the mornings, the juv. was standing upright in the nest and was visible almost the whole time I was there. No wing action, though. The marsh was much quieter (bird activity, insect activity etc.) than it is in the am. No sign of male.
Observed nest from 8:15 am -9:45 am. The female buzzed me (circled overhead calling) twice while I was there. And for the first time since I started observing, she remained on the platform perch the whole time and never once visited the nest. The male came by at least once, but didn't land and stay, and didn't deliver food. Another Osprey pair came pretty close to the nest at one point. The female watched them closely and vocalized a bit. The lone chick hunkered down the whole time. I could only see the top of its head and occasionally heard it vocalize.
Visited 8:15-10:30 am. The quick transformation of the 1 juvenile still amazes me. Again, no sign of second chick. The juv. in the nest hasn't exercised his/her wings really at all when I've been there. Male is around nest/on nest more often now, but never stays long. Sometimes he appears to bring a fish to the nest only to carry it away again, and then perhaps eat it at a roost nearby. I've also seen him do this with a headless fish.
Observed from 9:30-10;30 am. Female left the nest again as on 6/24, and circled over me with talons down. She then returned to nest. Male showed up a while later with a fish. Observed 1 juv., but hope both are there. Juvs. should fledge soon.
Observed from 9:30-11:30 am. Shortly after I arrived, female left the nest and circled above me for about 5 minutes. I was apprehensive. She'd never done that before. Male visited nest several times but stayed only briefly. Saw 1 chick. Heard chick(s) vocalize. Female vocalized a lot. Heard various calls. Female still brooding.
Observed for a while this am. Female was on nest. No sign of the male near nest. May have seen him at a distance. The chicks are vocalizing and beginning to sound like the adults. When I first heard the chirping this am, I thought it was the female. It was one of the chicks.
Visited 8:15-9:30 a.m. The 2 chicks are more visible, and the female spent most of her time on the nest rim. An intruder buzzed the nest and was eventually escorted away by the nesting male. Boy did the female defend her nest, as can be seen in the photos (please see photos # 4-9). It's my understanding that the intruder could have been the male from nest #6811 (failed nest) or a late-arriving first-time breeder looking for a nest site.
Observed nest for 2 hours (8:30 am -10:30 am). Female was on nest, then stood up. I then observed 2 brownish and featureless nestlings (could only see heads). Male arrived but stayed only minutes and brought no food. It appears I was wrong. Female has been brooding, not incubating. I'm guessing eggs were laid 4/1 or thereabouts & hatched 5/10-5/15.