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.
Primarily, both male and female are present in the nest, silent. No movement is observed for the duration of the first observation. Upon secondary observation, there are no individuals present in the nest.
Male and female are present though between the two sex is indistinguishable. One sits on the V perch and calls and the other is on the perch pole and remains silent. There is no noted feeding behaviors. No chicks are noted again this week
One individual noted upon first observation. No feeding behavior is observed. Individual has moved to V perch upon second observation. The third observation leads to the sighting of male and female present. Female is in the nest and male is on the perch pole. No chicks are noted throughout all of the observations.
First and secondary observations note male and female perched on the nearby perch poles. There are no visible chicks in the nest. Upon third observation, the female remains on her perch pole and the male has left the immediate area.
Female flies in and male flies up from perch pole to join her in the nest. They appear to be feeding chicks. Upon secondary observation there is one unidentified individual in the nest. During the last round of observation, both the male and female fly off almost simultaneously. Female is silent while male calls in three short bursts until he reaches the opposite side of the marsh and is out of earshot.
Female sits in nest, male feeds on the feeding pole alone. Upon secondary observation male is gone and returns to the 'V' perch a few minutes later. Third observation shows both individuals perched on "V" perch. Suspected, but unconfirmed hatchlings.
Female sits alone in the nest. A male that is uncoupled sits on the opposite side of the marsh area (over the trail used by the observer) could be the mate to this female. Second observation notes female alone in nest with no male in the area. Third pass shows male perched on the "v" pole.