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.
12:05 p.m. The one chick was gone--apparently it had fledged. I did not see either adult while I watched the nest. The last time I was watching, the chick was getting some pretty big air with those wing flaps and jumps. I expected it would fledge in a day or two so apparently it did.
9:15 a.m. From Oberly Rd, with good morning light, I can see what is happening on this nest even though it is quite far away. This time the single chick, which I have watched since the earliest days after hatching, was sitting up tall on the nest, wing flapping and jumping high above the nest. It won't be long until this chick fledges. The parents were not seen.
12:10 p.m. The adult was standing to the left, the chick to the right as seen from the Oberly Rd driveway. There was no feeding, but the chick was wing flapping aggressively. It won't be long now until it fledges.
10:40 a.m. From the driveway on Oberly Rd, I spotted one large chick with well advanced plumage, standing in the nest, next to the adult. I watched from there for a while then went to the other farm lane off Carpentersville Rd and found that to also be posted. From the main roadway I watched the male (presumed) bringing in something which I assume was a fish. Then I watched the female feed the one chick.
11:25 a.m. From Oberly Rd I saw the female (I assume) feeding 1 chick on top of the tower. This nest is very far away, but it is easier to see what is going on now that the nest is right on the top instead of on the lower tier as it was in the past. I would like to observe from the access road, but the quarry is hesitant to allow me to drive up that road since it is not well maintained. The last time I drove there was after a heavy rain and although there were some ruts, I had no trouble doing so.
1:05 p.m. This is the first time I have observed this tower in 2023. Last year, the quarry management was reluctant to let me drive up to the tower where I can see the ospreys very well. The road had washed out in Ida, and they didn't want me to get stuck. I drove up without a problem with my 4WD, standard transmission. There was one bad spot with diagonal ruts, but anyone with driving skill and 4WD could make it fine. So, this year I viewed the nest from the driveway on Oberly Rd. I was surprised how well I could see the nest and that the osprey have built it right on top of the tower this year!! Instead of being in the shadow on the second tier, it is right in the sun. The head of an adult was visible so one can hope they are on eggs.
11:10 a.m. I parked on the farm road, set up my scope and camera, and searched the tower. I saw no sign of either adult. The chicks have fledged and were not at the tower either. I did not see them flying in the area while I observed. I expect that they fledged soon after I saw them on 7/12.
1:30 p.m. Both adults are perched on the top of the structure and both chicks are in the nest a level below on this distant, two-level tower. I watched from the farm road. While I watched the sun was beating down and except for a wing stretch or two the chicks remained inactive. These are big chicks. I expect they will fledge soon if they haven't already. This nest is usually quite early to hatch and fledge.
2:55 p.m. I drove to the farm road off of Carpentersville Rd, got into position and set up scope and camera. I could see two big chicks sitting up tall even though it is quite far away. I did not see the adults. I believe these chicks are more than 4-5 weeks old. I will check this nest once more from the access road through the quarry to get a closer look.
12:35 p.m. From Oberly, I thought I could see two nestlings, but it was just too far away to be sure. I then moved to the farm road off of Carpentersville Rd. At 12:45 p.m. I had a much better view of the nest. I saw the female fly to perch on the railing above the nest. Then it was clear there were 2 nestlings sitting up tall on the nest.
2:00 p.m. First I looked from the driveway off Oberly Rd. Then I went to the quarry. They were hesitant to let me drive up the access road because they said it wasn't maintained. I did find the start of it, which is fairly steep, very washed out with thick, loose gravel and deep gullies. The car handled it fine. After the first rough part, the road was in good shape. At 2:20 p.m. I saw an adult on the nest that appeared to be incubating or brooding.
11:08 a.m. I decided to stay up on the ridge above the quarry, on Oberly Rd instead of going down into the quarry since the sun was right for viewing from that angle. However, all I could see was the nesting material. I saw no birds at all so I will still have to go into the quarry on a weekday to see what is happening at this nest site. On weekends the gate is closed so I can't get access to the cell tower except when the gate and office are open.
1:00 p.m. One adult was perched on a lower tier. While I watched from the unnamed, gravel farm road on the hill above the quarry it took flight and chased another bird away. I couldn't see if the second bird was an osprey or if it was the mate and this was courtship. The viewing spot is very far away from the tower. I then saw a bird sitting on nesting material on the 2nd tier of the tower, which is most likely the mate not the bird flying too near the nest territory. The bird which was in the air returned to the nest and was sitting on the opposite side of the 2nd tier. Both sides appeared to have nesting material. I will have to go into the quarry for a closer look to really know what is going on here. Last year, this nest was inactive although the year before it was productive. The woman at the quarry thought the failure last year was because they were blasting in the quarry, but I would have thought that activity took place all the time at a quarry.
11:35 a.m. I realized I could see this tower from a dirt road off of Carpentersville Rd. The road is not posted "private" but is posted "Semi-wild Shooting Range" and along both side the fields were planted. I suspect this is state land. I could actually get reasonably close and with morning light, it is quite visible without having to go all the way to River Rd, notify the quarry, and drive up the steep, washed out tower access road. Unfortunately, I saw no sign of the adults. The nest is flat and doesn't look like it has been built up at all this year. If the nest itself was more substantial, I would have thought that perhaps the chicks had fledged and were off flying around, but his nest looks unused.
10:45 a.m. I realized I could see the tower from Carpentersville Rd. It is a different view than from the tower access road through the quarry. I saw one adult perched on one of the posts. I spoke to Carol in the quarry office. Last year she was excited about having the osprey at the facility, but this year she says they aren't around. She speculates it is because of the weekly blasting. I don't know what has changed at the quarry...didn't they always blast? I drove up to the viewing spot. The adult was still perched. I couldn't tell if it was the male or the female. The nest looked rather skimpy and there was no sign of any other osprey around.
12:45 p.m. I checked in with Carol in the office, then drove up the access road to a spot in the shade where I could clearly see the tower. Both chicks have fledged! I immediately see them both fly off as I am setting up, and it is obvious these are not their first flights! One of the adults is flying around and above the tower. The chicks join it. Not long afterwards the female (I believe) flies to the tower and perches on a pillar on the top level. It has something orange which at first I thought was plastic. However, it is strange. It looks almost like a fish but the color is so vivid and unnatural! I suppose it could be a gold fish out of someone's pond....but it almost looks like a plastic fish! The adult takes it in its mouth again and flies off with it! Both chicks are doing small circles around and above the tower and one lands and perches on the tier below the nest (top) tier. I hear vocals the entire time I am there. I think the chicks are pretty excited and maybe ready to eat some of that weird orange fish! It is great to see they have both successfully fledged and are flying strong!
2:00p.m. From the cell tower access road I see a parent (probably female) perched on a mesh platform above the nest, and a large chick on the nest itself. Not long after I set up, a second large chick sits up and flaps its wing! TWO CHICKS! I am happy to confirm the two because this nest is very difficult to photography because one is looking up from quite far off, and thus you are looking through a lot of wires, pillars, and mechanical parts to the cell tower! Both chicks are wing flapping and don't seem hungry. The parent sat quietly above without moving the entire time I was watching.
11:30 a.m. Access to this cell tower is by permission of, and through the locked gate of the quarry. It is only available M-F from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. From this road to the tower I found a few spots, high enough, yet far enough away from which I could see the adult on the nest. I did also see movement of one chick, but at this time can only confirm one. The other view point is from a driveway on Oberly Rd, but the tower from that point is very far away! The adult who was sitting on the nest when I first arrived, flew to perch on one of the tower's posts above the nest. I did not see the second adult this time.
4:00p.m. I drove into the quarry and saw no one around. I took a couple of photos from near the office. I could see one adult on the tower platform, but it was quite far away. I then drove along River Rd north and climbed the hill to Oberly Rd on the east side of the tower. There are large farms there and I drove down a farm road to get a bit closer. One is still very far from this nest. I might try to get permission from the quarry to park there as it is closer. The photo I took at 4:30 from Oberly Rd, while very dark and not in sharp focus, seems to show a pair on the nest so perhaps this pair is nest building.