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.
12:00 p.m. I am a NJ Osprey Project volunteer who inventories all NJ nests in the northwest quadrant of the state. I was in the area visiting a friend who lives just 2 miles from this nest. As we returned from a bike ride, I spotted a fledgling on the nest apparently eating prey. I stopped, but had no camera to get a photo, only my cell phone. Another osprey was flying around the area of the nest/tower, calling. It appeared to be a second fledgling. As soon as we finished the ride, I hurried back in the car with my camera and binoculars, but by then the nest was empty and I saw no osprey in the area. I returned at 5:00 p.m. and found a bird sitting in the nest. I couldn't see its plumage, but I assumed it was one of the fledglings from its call. Clearly this is an active nest. In the future I will check on it whenever we are in the area. My friend is also part of the NJ Raptor Alliance, and I will ask him to keep an eye on the nest also!