Located in Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. According to the park ranger, this is a new nest. They have not had a nest on this platform for about 6 years.
What to look for
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.
March 5, 2023: I last visited the Osprey nest on February 16 and 19, 2023. On both of those days, everything seemed normal at the nest. Both occupants were at the nest, and were engaging in their routine behavior of sitting on the nest and hunting for food. I returned to the nest on March 5, and there was no activity in the nest. I spoke with one of the park rangers, and he told me that both of the ospreys disappeared a couple of weeks ago. It appears that the nest failed this season. Nesting material is still on the platform.
On this day I arrived around 11:45 a.m., and both the male and female were sitting in the nest. (Osprey #1 and Osprey #2). Around 11:47 a.m., both Ospreys became very agitated and vocal, and a third adult Osprey landed in the nest. Osprey #1 chased away #3, while #2 remained in the nest. #1 returned briefly to the nest, and both #1 and #2 flew away. Both birds circled the nest, and then returned. All of the preceding activity took place between 11:47 a.m. and 11:49 a.m. At 11:52 a.m. Osprey #1 left the nest and returned at 11:53 a.m. with a long stick. The bird brought the stick into the nest and spent about a minute arranging the stick into the nest. At 11:54 a.m. Osprey #2 flew out of the nest and went to the nearby light pole located on the Naval Base. Both birds often use this perch for eating or preening. Osprey #2 spent 10 minutes on the light pole and then returned to the nest. Both birds stayed in the nest for about 5 minutes, and then one of them flew away. One Osprey remained in the nest. I left the nest at 12:20. I returned to the nest at 2:15, and one bird was in the nest, and the other was sitting on the light pole eating a fish.
High winds and weather have kept me away from the park for a few days. The nest is still there, but it lost a lot of material, probably from the high winds. I didn’t see an Osprey in the nest, but one, or possibly 2 Ospreys were nearby hunting for food. One of them spent a lot of time sitting on the Naval Base light pole that is near the nest.
There was one bird in the nest when I arrived that morning. The other bird flew to the nest a few minutes later and then flew over to the Naval Base to hunt for fish. It sat on a pole where it had a good view of the water, and dove into the water to snatch a meal. The Osprey nest is at the end of the park that borders the Naval Base.
The nest was empty when got to the park, and a few minutes later, one of the birds brought nesting material to the platform. Both the male and female collect items to build a nest, but it’s the female who does the interior design work! About 10 minutes later, the other bird arrived with a fish. It’s usually the male who brings food to the nest. One of the birds (not sure if it was the male or female) took the fish and flew out of the nest and landed on a nearby light pole. The bird ate the fish on the pole before returning to the nest.