Route 31 Com Tower. This nest is located on a communications tower behind the Annandale Hose Company #1 on Route 31 southbound in Lebanon NJ 08833. It is just north of Payne Rd an can be viewed from a small strip mall on the northwest corner of Payne Rd or from the shoulders of route 31.
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.
3:30 p.m. This tower remains clear of all nesting materials for the 2nd year in a row. The osprey have moved on since the cell company cleared away the nesting material at the end of 2021 when the pair had 3 chicks.
9:40 a.m. This tower is still clean. The osprey pair have not returned. It is a shame since they had three chicks last year! I wonder where they relocated?! There is a substantial nest on a tower not far (~1.5 miles) north of here on Rt. 31, but I have not seen osprey there.
12:45 p.m. I had noticed some time ago that the cell company has apparently cleaned off all of the osprey's nesting material. Today, I pulled over to take a closer look and saw two osprey flying overhead, circling the tower. I hope they rebuild!
9:20-10:05 a.m. When I arrived at the Country Square shopping center on the west side of route 31, the nest appeared empty. After a couple minutes, one of the fledglings sat up and moved to the right. A sibling raised its head. The third was back away from my view point, but I could see it moving and catch brief glimpses of its back. All three chicks were present. There was a lot of preening and some vocals and a bit of wing flapping. At 9:34, one of the fledglings flew off toward route 31, circled around and headed west. I moved to the shoulder of route 31 for a different perspective. I saw a bird soaring high above the nest, but couldn't tell if it was a parent or the fledgling. At 9:39 I noticed the parent had returned to the nest and was perched on one of the high pieces of equipment. It appeared to be the male with no "necklace" just a bright white breast. At 9:48 I moved back to the shopping center parking lot and saw that the two chicks were sitting side by side and the parent still perched above. At 10:00 the parent flew off and one of the chicks flew up to the perch the parent had just vacated. The third chick still hadn't returned when I left. These three have all fledged, but as I have observed at osprey nests, the chicks stay at or near the nest for quite awhile after their first flight.
8:30 a.m. When I parked in the strip mall and set up my scope, I saw that the nest was empty. I saw no sign of the adults or the three chicks. I watched for about 30 minutes. The family must be off hunting breakfast. These chicks must have fledged sometime during the last two weeks.
11:40 a.m. The female is sitting high and I can see one of the chicks, but just the top of its head. I watch for about 30 minutes, but see no action! I must have missed a big feeding and now everyone is down and resting. I don't see the male.
1:30 p.m. When I arrived, Mom was busy moving around the nest, and I saw the male soaring overhead on the breeze. Mom appeared to be feeding her two chicks. Dad continued to fly in circles way above the nest. I continued to watch and was excited to spot not two, but THREE chicks! Last year, this nest fledged only one so this year the pair was triple productive! The photo is super-zoomed, but clear enough to confirm three little ospreys! Looking good! Two weeks ago I thought I saw a chick's head and evidence of hatching. Today, these three chicks definitely looked to be at least 3 weeks old. This nest is ahead of others I am watching, but is not the only one to begin incubating in mid-April and hatching in early June.
9:22 a.m. When I arrived at the viewing spot, both adults were present. The male, perched on the high pole, the female sitting high on the nest. Based on her position, it is possible she was brooding. When she stood, it is possible I got a brief glimpse of chick or perhaps it was just an egg roll. In the photo, it looked like the top of a chick, but that would indicate this pair began incubating in late April. The photo was not clear enough to be definitive.
The light wasn't great, but what appeared to be the male was perched high above the nest. From the strip mall parking lot, all I saw was the tail feathers of the (presumed) female sitting on the nest. In the photo you can see just the tip of the female's tail on the nest and also the tip of the male's tale, mostly hidden behind the structure at the right and high.
Early season check. One adult perched on tower post...appeared from this angle to be the male. Did not see the female, but this nest is better viewed from the small strip mall on Payne Rd west of route 31.
Spotted both male and female on nest. Amount of nest material has grown significantly. Boh birds seen leaving the nest together - flying toward Round Valley.
Have also seen an individual bird at the pumping station on Hamden Road.
After picking up my car from the Subaru dealer, I headed north to check on this nest. I found it empty. The single chick has fledged. I estimate that it did so on August 12, halfway between Aug. 5, when I last saw it on the nest alone, and today, when it is obviously off flying somewhere.
2:45-3:00 p.m. 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 exposed nests and chicks down.
In any case, I assume fledglings that are experienced fliers, would have been able to find shelter and protection from the high winds. This single chick is a bit behind some others in this area. I am pleased to find it safely sitting on the nest when I arrive. The nest doesn't look as though it suffered much. I don't stay long, but while I watch, this chick is inactive and quiet. I don't see either parent.
9:00 a.m. I parked at the Country Square Plaza on Payne Rd and could clearly see the adult female and one large chick, both facing to the north. There is little activity and I hear no vocals. I haven't seen the male nor a fish delivery very often at this nest. It is clear now that there is only one chick. I have heard the size of the clutch can be determined by the available fish. This nest is at least 3 miles from Round Valley Reservoir and at least 1 mile from the South Branch of the Raritan River. Perhaps that has influenced the number of chicks. Will have to watch in years to come. This chick, while growing and looking healthy, seems to be a bit younger than the chicks I watch along the Delaware River.
At 9:30 a.m. Mom does start to call...I assume calling her mate for more fish. She is looking around and calling a lot now.
9:45 a.m. I left and headed north on route 31 stopping at an office building parking lot just a bit north of the nest for a different view. I can see the chick and the adult from there pretty well, but have to look through the structures of the tower and look up more than from the small strip mall on Payne Rd. Still, it is a different angle and can provide more views if they are at that side of the nest.
7:10 a.m. I arrived at my observation post in the small plaza. The adult (probably female) was perched on a pillar. One chick was sitting up tall and during the time that I watched, this growing chick preened, pooped, picked at the bottom of the nest, stretched its wings and moved/rearranged some of the nest sticks. It was quite active and moved around quite a lot. I only saw the one and I doubt there could be a second that remained hidden with all the activity and movement in the nest. At 7:25, the chick lay down and Mom hopped down to the rim of the nest. By 8:10 a.m. neither had moved so I left.
6:25 p.m. At the end of a long afternoon of checking nests, I decide to detour past this nest tower. A parent is on the nest, but I see no other activity. It is late, the chick must be down resting and already fed.
9:20 a.m. The sun is still not out when I arrive so the photos are not clear until later. However, through my scope I can watch the female and one chick. After 20 minutes, "Mom" is calling continuously, perhaps for food. The one chick is getting big, sitting up tall and preening. I don't see two! I am doubting my notes from 6/30! I reviewed the video and what I thought was two heads might have been a head and a wing tip. I will keep watch to see if a second chick appears. It seems that for as long as I watched this morning, (more than an hour), and clearly only saw one on the nest with the female, that probably there aren't two after all. I changed the Activity Report back to 1 for now.
8:15 a.m. After trying to watch this nest from the shoulder of route 31 northbound, I discovered a strip mall (Country Square Plaza) on Payne Rd, just west of route 31 with a good view of the nest. The adult pair was on the nest, arranging sticks and sitting. Not long after I began watching with my spotting scope and camera on fixed brackets, the male flew off. Soon I see movement and two little heads. One of the chicks helps Mom with her stick arranging. My photo which is way zoomed, in poor light, and thus not very sharp, shows only one chick. The video I took seems to show two. I watched for quite awhile. The female flew to a post over-looking the nest at around 10 a.m. The chicks were down and inactive after that so I left.