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.
9:05 a.m. After an email from a worried Nancy, who lives in the house on this old farm, I visited this nest site. She was worried that one of the chicks was left alone and abandoned by its parents. She said it perched on the railing by the nest at the top of the silo and was constantly calling and calling!!
It was there when I arrived and did call intermittently. It looked as though it had been eating and was healthy. At 9:25 p.m. it flew off and toward the east and disappeared. I explained osprey behavior to the worried resident: that the parents leave on their migration journeys first (the mother, then the father), but not until the chicks have learned to hunt by watching the parents. I also said the chicks keep calling for food even after they can fish for themselves. After the adults have left the nest area, the fledglings eventually give up and start out on their own journey, hunting on the way, having learned from the adults.
I also told her that if it were really in distress--starving or whatever--it would be quiet and likely couldn't or wouldn't fly. It is difficult for us human observers to watch and hear the seemingly plaintive call by the fledglings, but it is normal and doesn't necessarily indicate that the chick is in trouble.
11:10 a.m. The female was perched in the nest. The sun was shining promising a hot day. I did not see the two mature chicks, but they might have been laying low to stay cool or they may have already fledged. The female was calling persistently. At 11:20 a.m. she flew off, around the silo, and headed south, toward the river. When I drove past about 12:30 p.m., I did not see any birds at or near the nest. My supposition is that if the two chicks were laying low, the mother would have been sitting on the nest shading them. I will return someday soon in the early morning to confirm the fledge, but I suspect the two have fledged.
7:11 a.m. I arrived early on this quiet, peaceful Sunday morning. I saw at least one person sitting in the screened porch behind the house. Later, a young woman, "Lexie", approached and said her father lived there. I explained who I was, what was going on with the nest, and that I knew Vinny the president of the sport club. I gave her my card and a brochure, "Monitoring New Jersey's Ospreys and How You Can Help".
I saw the female and one of her chicks perched on the metal railing around the top of the silo. The other chick sat tall in the nest. All three were preening and I heard some vocalizing, but no one seemed desperate for breakfast.
10:20 a.m. The mother was perched on the wire cage on the edge of the silo. The two chicks were preening and sitting up tall on the nest. One chick was calling regularly. At 10:43 the female was calling regularly and flew off at 10:46. She circled around the silo above the nest about 3 times then landed in the nest. Breakfast seemed to be past due and everyone was calling for the male to bring fish. The river (Musconetcong) was high and muddy as were all rivers in the northwest after overnight hard rain. I have only seen two chicks and they are large enough now that if there was a third, certainly I would have seen it. They also are displaying the scalloped feathers of mature nestlings.
8:50 a.m. The female and her two chicks were sitting up together. I wondered if I might see a third, but after watching today, I believe there are only two this year. At 9:06 Mom stirred, vocalized and moved around some. At 9:10 she flew off and down. At 9:12, she flew back into the nest with a talon carrying an odd bunch of plant matter. It looked like one plant pulled up by the roots, but it was not edible. Both chicks were up and more active after Mom returned. One was in front of her to her left as she faced away from me. The other was mostly hidden on her right except for its head. I never saw a third chick.
3:45 p.m. It was very hot and sunny. The female had her wings out and was shading her two big chicks. One was under her right wing and tale, the other cuddled under her left wing. The female at this nest has very little brown on her chest. She has just a few small brown dots under her beak.
1:35 p.m. I could easily see the female sitting in the nest and one chick sitting in front of her (between the female and my scope). I also spotted what I was sure was a second chick behind the female. I will have to check again soon with better lighting. Last year this pair had 3 chicks, but these chicks are quite young/small so if there are 3, they are still difficult to see.
5:10 p.m. An adult was on the nest, but it flew off when another osprey flew over. They flew around and soared together, so I assumed this was the mate. I have not seen chicks yet, but I suspect they are hatched and very small.
10:55 a.m. The nest was empty! I see no osprey nearby, flying above, or perched anywhere. Just as I set up my camera, one of the fledglings landed back on the railing that surrounds the top of the silo and the nest. It remained there the entire time I was watching!
A large, black SUV headed toward the property exit where I was parked at the end of the driveway near route 632. I got out and introduced myself and explained what I was doing. I gave the gentleman my card. If he gave me his name I didn't get it. Later I learned his last name was Fitzpatrick. He is retired and a member of the Warren County Rod and Gun Club which owns this property which used to be a farm. He used to work for the federal DEP and is a biologist. He said he sees eagles and osprey along the Musconetcong which is across 632 and down the slope to the valley. The osprey catch fish, the eagles steal it! He thinks there must be an eagles' nest closer than Merrill Creek reservoir which he estimates is 3 miles away. I believe it is closer "as the eagle flies". I told him eagles often steal from osprey!
As I was talking with Mr. Fitzpatrick, Vince Russo drove up the driveway on a small front end loader. He is the president of the club. He and I spoke for a long time about raptors, and he told me his members have seen and know about a bobcat's den in the woods up behind their place. He wanted me to notify NJDFW which I did. Gretchen Fowles is the mammal biologist in the area and was to call Vince.
Vince said this osprey nest has been there "8-10 years"!! I believe there are plenty of osprey (and eagle) nests that are as yet unknown/undiscovered by NJDFW and by volunteer nest observers! He was well aware of the osprey family but as usual for casual observers, didn't exactly have the facts and details straight about fledglings, parents, etc. I try to explain and fill him in. I sent him some photos I have taken showing the difference between adults and chicks. I explained about osprey behaviors, life cycles, migration, nesting, etc. I gave him my last osprey brochure.
He could prove to be very helpful and said to call or text him anytime with questions or if I need help and said that we are welcome to come observe. It is always a great thing to reach out and establish good relations with the landowners! Vince and I exchanged cards and contact information.
12:35 p.m. The light was perfect and Mom and the three chicks were "posing" nicely atop their silo nest! One of the chicks was "branching" on the metal railing that encircles the top of the silo. The other two were sitting on the nest edge watching their brave sibling. Mom was also on the nest, watching out for her off spring.
I thought it was a bit strange that Mom kept calling persistently and constantly. Then I noticed at least four more raptors flying and circling over the nest. I believe they were also all ospreys and probably one was the male, warning the others to leave. After circling for awhile, they flew off and disappeared after which, Mom quieted down.
I expect the next time I observe this nest, these three chick will have all fledged.
7:15 a.m. The sun was perfect as I parked and set up my equipment! I was delighted to see Mom sitting on the nest along with three big chicks! I had hoped to confirm the number of nestlings at this excellent nest!
4:04 p.m. Mom was sitting down in the nest. I saw at least one chick stretch a wing as I arrived. The chicks were very inactive though. Except for the early wing stretch, I didn't see any activity. I still can't confirm for sure that there is more than one nestling.
3:00 p.m. Both adults were perched near the nest. The female was actually on the nest edge and the male was perched to the left on the metal piping encircling the top of the silo. The chick(s) were down and not visible. The female constantly called! I got a good look of one chick through the nest rails. A second nestling could be farther back, but so far I can only confirm one nesting for sure.
4:45 p.m. The female was eating while feeding the nestling(s). She was standing on the south (left as I watch) side of the nest. The male was perched to the right of her also standing on the nest. One chick stood to the right in back of the mother, but closer to my view point (chick head marked in photo) while she fed a second nesting which I did not actually see or get a photo of.
3:50 p.m. I could see one adult on the nest. I did not stay long because there was no activity and it was really late. I pulled into the farm driveway and saw a couple having a picnic under a canopy near the driveway. I visited with them for quite awhile. They were aware of and interested in the ospreys. They said this "farm" is now a hunt club and they were on vacation from Florida. I believe they used to live in NJ. They said they were sure no one would mind if I parked in the driveway while observing the nest.
4:25 p.m. I pulled into the Trout Hatchery but there were too many leaves and trees in the way to watch the silo from there. There is a good view of this nest from on the road, but one can't stop and park there and it is difficult to get fully off the road. I pulled into the farm. There appeared to be 2 residences and multiple out-buildings/barns/work sheds. As I arrived, an Amazon delivery truck pulled out. When I looked around, I saw no one and decided not to knock on doors this time. I will next time. I did find a place to watch for long enough to get a video showing an adult sitting very low on the nest. I could see its head moving between the sticks. I also checked out Google Maps Street View and it appears this nest was on the silo last year. The Screenshot from Street View is dated Dec. 2021!
11:30 a.m. I was driving northeast on route 632 heading to Butler Rd and the direct route over the ridge in order to check the other nest on a modern silo motor housing in New Village when I spotted this big stick nest on an older-style silo!! I took a photo but could not find a good place to pull over so decided to come back when I had more time and could work on finding a good viewing spot.