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.
8:30 a.m. Because I committed to reporting on every osprey nest west of Morristown and north of Trenton, I checked out this newly registered nest. What I found was an adult female trying to enjoy a nice, big fish for breakfast and being harassed by 3 aggressive ravens. She was perched on a local power pole which was about 50-70 yards from another local power pole which supported a few sticks. This location is less than a 1/4 mile from the "Rt 31/Payne Rd #7823" cell tower nest which was completely cleaned off over the winter. The pair which had lost its nest over the winter had been quite productive producing 3 chicks last season. It is possible that the pair from that location, #7823, made a feeble attempt to rebuild here dropping a few sticks on this local pole. It was obvious that not much nest building has taken place. There is another substantial nest about 1.5 miles north on Rt. 31, on a cell tower beside the Clinton Township municipal building, but I have yet to see osprey or for that matter, any birds there, thus I will not register this nest on Osprey Watch until I have confirmation that an osprey pair is actually nesting there (beside the Clinton Twp building). I wonder where the pair evicted from the Rt 31/Payne Rd tower has ended up this season.