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.
12:07 p.m. The nest was empty, and I saw no ospreys in the area. I am not surprised that the two big chicks have fledged. I suspected they had fledged already the last time I visited. This confirms that they have flown away from the nest platform.
9:20 a.m. I pulled up and set up my scope and camera. The two big chicks (are they fledglings yet?) were sitting high on the nest and calling persistently.
Eric Starosielski pulled up and we spoke for five minutes or so. He owns the land on which the tower sits. He commented on how loud the birds are and that he often hears them at the northeast corner of his property and wondered if there was another nest. He said this winter he wanted to remove a lot of plastic and that the adult osprey had dropped a piece of plastic sack at his feet recently! I explained about ospreys and plastic! He also said he wanted to fix the camera which apparently is not working, and that the osprey nest is really "a neighborhood project." He said I could get closer to observe if I wanted to and I explained that the view was best from the road or from the next driveway to the south (owned by a young couple I haven't met). Bill Arrison, the original "engineer" of the platform and camera, died early this year. His wife Kate walked the dog today and I greeted her.
1:30 p.m. The two big, mature chicks were sitting up tall and easily seen and photographed! The light was perfect. They were preening and calling but not wing flapping. I would not be surprised if they haven't already fledged as have the other two nests nearby. However, I can't be sure so will plan to visit again to see if I can observe them flying! I did not see either adult.
2:00 p.m. From the main road I saw one big chick sitting up tall. I moved to Old River Rd, and was able to see both: One was up toward the river, the sibling was back toward the main road (627). I did not see the adults, but the two chicks were vocalizing regularly -- calling for food no doubt. These two will fledge soon.
1:40 p.m. The female was shading the two chicks. One chick had its head up, but from Old River Rd, I could not see the second one well enough to get a photo. I moved to route 627 which is on the east side of the field and provides a different view than Old River Rd on the west side. I could see the second chick's head from there, but it was impossible to get a photo. I moved back to Old River Rd but both were down again. One was behind Mom. As I pulled up, I saw the male fly off with a fish.
10:10 a.m. Mom had her head down and toward the east (back of nest from where I watch). She appeared to be feeding chick(s). I moved off Old River Rd to the driveway to the immediate south of the field and saw a chick stretch its wings which showed pin feathers clearly. From the driveway I could confirm seeing two chicks and again, from route 627, I saw Mom feeding two.
11:55 a.m. There was an adult sitting on the nest in about the same position as I had seen on 5/5. It stood and put its head down to the bottom and appeared to be moving or picking at something. If there are eggs, it was an egg roll. If chicks, they must be very small. Wait and see.
1:15 p.m. I could not see to the other side of this nest from Old River Rd as the platform is tipped toward the east. I was late so I did not take the time to try to park on route 627 to see it from the other side.
9:35 a.m. This tower and nest was empty again. I wish I could get a glimpse of the two fledglings but it is all a matter of timing!
I parked on the north side of the farm field where the platform stands, along the main roadway, route 627 in the grass and could see the platform well. The platform is still full of black plastic! It tilts to the north side; viewing from this position would probably be advantageous.
8:13 a.m. When I arrived, the nest appeared totally empty! The early morning light is not good for viewing this nest. I moved to the adjacent driveway, but still saw nothing way back at the east edge of the platform. It is slightly possible that the chicks were down really flat, but in my opinion, that is not likely. They were certainly ready to fledge when I saw them 10 days ago so I assume they were off flying with the adults somewhere! I watched until I was convinced the nest was empty. I saw no wing stretches or any sign birds were lying down.
2:40 p.m. These two big chicks are finally large enough to see sitting up on the nest even though the platform is tilting away from my viewpoints on Old River Rd! There is a big green "tree" sprouting on the near side of the nest! The two chicks were not eating, or wing flapping but they did move around a bit. They look mature and ready to fledge at any moment.
I have wanted to make contact with and meet the property owners of this farm. I had spoken earlier to Kate Arrison, but Bill never got back to me. He is the original builder of this platform and installed the camera. I have no idea if the camera still works.
I saw that the farm stand was open, although un-manned. I picked up their business card and called Eric. He is enthusiastic about the osprey and said he had reinforced the tower pole (metal now). I spoke to him about possibly cleaning out plastic during February. We left it that I would reach out to him via email during the fall/winter when we both are less busy.
11:15 a.m. From the Old River Rd pull off I could see the female when she was sitting up tall, but it is very difficult to see chick(s). She appeared to be feeding chicks. I saw one chick wing stretch so I do know there is at least one in this nest. When the female began feeding, it appeared that she was feeding two. I am quite sure I saw two chick heads in a video while Mom was feeding. I also drove up the driveway along the south side of the field to see if I could get more of a view of the east side of the nest, away from Old River Rd. I could see one chick very well, but the second was way back toward the north side of the platform.
11:06 a.m. The adult female was sitting up tall on the nest and I wondered if she was watching nestlings. She looked down frequently and picked at something in the bottom of the nest and also "arranged" something under her breast. Between 11:12 and 11:13 a.m. I saw at least one little face pop up. To the left of that little head I saw movement through the rails and a poop shoot that could possibly have been from a second nestling. It seemed too far away to belong to the face and beak which was showing above the top of the nest. I could not tell for sure though.
4:30 p.m. An adult (probably the female) flew off as I was parking. An adult flew back less than a minute later and began to arrange sticks on the nest. It was calling, but I didn't see the mate nor any sign of chicks. The nest appears to have been built up a lot since my first few visits, and there is now a large sprig of greenery right in front in the center! I realized the adult on the nest was the female when I got a good look at her breast with the brown necklace. She was calling pretty persistently. At 4:37 p.m. she flew off toward the east ridge and then to the north toward the Musconetcong River. She flew in a large circle high enough that I could track her flight until she was too far away to see or was hidden by the trees off to the north. At 4:38 p.m. she returned with a stick and continued to arrange the nesting material. At 4:40 she ate from leftovers in the nest. If there are chicks they must be small and way toward the back, away from my view point on Old River Rd. When I left, the female was still arranging sticks and calling. This behavior seems to be for the benefit of new nestlings and would imply that there are chicks.
12:40 p.m. The adult female (with her brown "necklace") was sitting on the nest as if incubating or brooding. She was sitting quite far back, away from Old River Rd, and the platform seems to be tilting somewhat as well so it was impossible to see what was on the far side of the platform. 12:52 p.m. The female stood and appeared to eat from something in the nest. 1:03 p.m. she was still eating, picking at the bottom of the nest and finally sat back down.
9:40 a.m. The male was preening on one of the perches and the female was still sitting low on the nest. No indication of a hatchling yet, but it should not be long. I will watch for a longer time in a week or so to find out if a hatch has occurred.
2:05 p.m. After my discouraging visit 19 days ago, it appeared today that the female was sitting low on the nest, probably on egg(s). I went to the property owners' home, Amita and Erik, but no one answered the door. I also went to Bill and Kate Arrison's home and spoke to Kate through their glass storm door because she had Covid! I gave her my card and asked if Bill would please email me since my message to him hadn't gone through. I wondered if he had changed email addresses.
2:11 p.m. It appeared that the property owners were home, but I was rushed and so I didn't stop. I want to speak to them about the platform to see if there is any way the plastic might be cleaned out of the tower. When I pulled up I saw the female was perched on the nest. The nest didn't look as if it had had much added to it. It was rather flat and sparse! There was still black plastic streaming off the edges and back of the platform. I had tried to email Bill Arrison but his email address must have changed. I will see about finding his house and speaking to him about the camera and the possibility of cleaning the platform as well. It made me rather sad to see the female here alone and to think that there was only one fledgling last year. I wonder how many little hatchlings have been suffocated by the plastic trash. Bill said two years ago that he saw 3 on camera when they first hatched, but by the time I was inventorying chicks there were only two.
12:55 p.m. When I arrived the one big chick was sitting tall on the nest and preening its lovely feathers! Except for a wing flap/stretch or two, the entire time I watched, preening was its main activity. I never saw either adult. No doubt the chick had recently eaten and was attending to some grooming!
11:43 a.m. When I arrived it looked like the mother was alone on the nest. Then I could see the single chick was hidden behind her. For some reason, Mom began wing flapping and that roused the chick which sat up. This big chick was self feeding for awhile, then I saw Mom begin to feed her chick. This feeding went on for quite awhile.
11:55 a.m. When I arrived, I saw no adults and nothing on the nest. I watched for quite awhile wondering if there was any possibility that chicks had hatched early and fledged. That didn't seem possible so early in the season. Then a single chick sat up. I know when the chicks lie down in back, I can't see them. I watched for quite awhile but never saw more than just this one.
2:27p.m. When I arrived I was happy to see an adult incubating, but dismayed by the amount of plastic fluttering all around the nest. Last year, Bill Arrison, who installed the tower and the camera, told me there were 3 chicks early on yet I saw only two. I can't help but wonder if one was smothered by plastic. When this season is over, I will have to see if we can get a ladder up there and remove some of this plastic trash.
1:00pm I am doing very quick checks of as many nests as I can after yesterday's tropical storm Isaias. The severely high winds took down many trees and could have blown nests and chicks down. After the terrible discovery at the Phillips Farm nest nearby, I am relieved to see that this nest is still on the platform and one of the osprey is sitting up on the nest. I first thought it was the adult male, but after reviewing the photos, it could even be one of the fledglings. This bird has a pure white chest. In reviewing all my photos of the two chicks at this nest, neither has the brown "necklace" that is sometimes present on (mostly) females. I assumed that the chicks who were already experienced fliers would be able to find shelter from the severe wind. I have not noticed any dangerous plastic or monofilament trash in this nest in any case, so I assume both chicks are fine.
2-3:00 p.m. When I arrived and parked I saw a man walking his dog. I asked him if he watched the nest regularly and had seen the chicks fledge. He said yes, at least a week ago. I had a hunch and was correct that this was Bill Arrison who had designed and engineered this platform construction and the one before that which was struck by lightning. I had spoken at length to his wife, Kate, last year. The tower was put up 10-11 years ago with the people living in the stone house to the north of the field. They actually own the field. A new couple is now live there, but also are interested in the osprey and in maintaining the tower and the camera. I have listed the fledge date as July 15 because it is half way between 7/9 when I was last here and they had not yet fledged, and today. As we talked, the osprey family put on an interesting show for us! First one of the fledglings flew skillfully to the nest (it has had some days of practice). It was calling loudly and persistently (probably for food delivery from a parent). Soon the fledgling flew to a nearby tree and continued to call. Then Mom flew into the nest which produced loud chick vocals. Finally Dad arrived at the nest and sat there with his mate. The chick continued with its non-stop calling the entire time I was watching. I did not see the second fledgling, but the first flew around the area and landed skillfully. I could have watched the rest of the day, but have a lot more nests to check.
12:50-12:55 p.m. I did not stay as I plan to return as soon as I check the two nests to the south. As I passed by I saw one adult perched which looked like the male, on the right top, but the nest was empty. Both chicks have fledged and are off somewhere.
2:30 p.m. The adult (probably the female) was perched on the northern support/perch above the nest. Two big eyases sat in the rain! They appeared to be 5-6 weeks old and healthy! A light rain fell the entire time I watched so the photos are not too clear!
1:25 p.m. The male is on the left perch, the female is on the nest. I saw one little head and probably two. I also see in the video I took, lots of flying insects around the platform. As at Phillips Farm, the female shakes her head to rid herself of these annoying pests. I hope these little ones aren't hurt by so many insects around their heads. Mom preens. I might have seen one of the two little ones doing a crop drop, but it is difficult to tell. Feeding was over by the time I arrived. The two eyases look to be between a week to a week and a half old.
10:05 a.m. The male is on the left perch of the platform; the female is sitting down on the platform. I hear lots of vocals. At 10:10 the female flies up to the right perch, but only stays there momentarily before flying back down to the platform. She remains standing and eats. She could also be feeding something too small to see on this platform. If there is not a hatchling yet, it won't be long until they have eyases. At 10:18 she sits back down low and neither adult is very active after that. I watch for about 30 minutes.
8:55 a.m. The incubating adult stands and rolls the egg(s).
9:00 a.m. The mate flies in with a huge talon full of grasses for the nest lining. It then sits down beside the mate and I can see this second adult better because it is closer to where I am parked on Old River Rd.
8:45 a.m. The tower looks empty, but I am quite sure there is an adult incubating sitting way back on the east side of the platform. It is cold and windy, there was frost this morning. I believe the adult on the egg(s) is sitting very low to avoid the wind. I catch a glimpse of its head occasionally when it moves or lifts its head to look around. I don't see the mate.
9:10 a.m. Both adults have been sitting on the nest for ten minutes. Finally, the adult which brought in grasses stands and flies off again. This is not an exchange. The same adult remains on the egg(s). The mate flies to the south end of the field and perches in a tree in the hedge row at the edge of the field.
9:18 a.m. I see what looks like an osprey flying above the nest area. I look and see the perched mate take off, soar above the nest, and disappear to the northeast, apparently chasing off a third osprey intruder? I also look in my scope and see that the incubating adult hasn't moved.
The male perches on the left side while the female remains on the right. After a few minutes, the male flies off and soars in circles above the nest, over the river, toward the south, then back past the nest to the north. I don't see where he lands.
11:45a.m. The female (so it appears from her "necklace"), is on the perch. The male, then, flies in with a bunch of grass in his talons. He then works diligently on the nest, arranging sticks. He is sometimes almost out of site as he is back away from my viewing spot along Old River Rd.
10:00 a.m. One of the babies flies off toward the river. I can't tell if it is one that earlier flew in, or if it is the third, the one I have not seen fly. Thus I still can't positively confirm that all three have fledged.
10:00 a.m. Kate Arrison tells me that her husband installed a camera on this nest which is not working right now! I am quite sure this camera is not linked to the internet and probably only has a film loop, although perhaps they have a pick-up at their home. I will inquire more carefully in the future.
A lady walking her dog passes, and sees my equipment. She asks how many chicks are in the nest and I tell her. She said she thought there were only 2 this year, but I tell her I can definitely see that all three on the tower now have red eyes. It turns out this is Kate Arrison, whose husband has installed this tower (twice...once after a lightning strike 3 years ago took out the first tower) and has watched this nest (for 10 years). They live just north of the field where the nest tower is.
9:45 a.m. A third chick flew into the nest and landed on the perch. This confirms there are three off spring at this nest this year. Through my scope I can clearly see 3 sets of red eyes. I have not seen the tower empty so I am reporting 2 fledglings. I suspect the third is capable of flying also.
At 9:20 a.m. a second chick flies in and lands on the perch where the adult had been sitting. The sibling continued to eat, and both were calling loudly. Both are very vocal. After a couple minutes the chick on the perch hops down next to its sibling, and eyes the prey! Vocals continue
At about 9:00 a.m. the adult flew off the perch, toward the river. The one chick continued to eat whatever prey had been left on the platform and calling intermittently. After observing three birds on 8/6, two of which were definitely chicks, I wanted to arrive early and stay long enough to assess the family dynamic at this nest tower.
8:00a.m. It was quite foggy this morning, but had mostly cleared when I arrived at the nest tower. I parked on Old River Rd. I saw one chick sitting on the nest platform, and an adult on the perch. The chick was eating something in the nest.
When I arrived at 12:30 p.m. across from the platform on Old River Rd, there were three osprey on the platform, one on the perch and two in the nest. One of the two on the nest was eating prey. The second bird on the nest flew away before I could get good photos of it. I believe it was a fledgling, and I reported three but there is a slight possibility that it was an adult. I will try to observe early a.m. and confirm the number of nestlings.
I stayed for quite awhile watching the two remaining birds. Both were nestlings. I do not know if either has fledged yet.
The one who was eating, continued to do so while the one on the perch called constantly for its own fish delivery. Finally, the one on the perch flew into the nest and continued to call while its sibling monopolized the fish meal in the nest.