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.
The osprey station on a post was constructed in early 2021. That spring a pair produced three chicks, all fledged successfully and left for the south in summer. In 2022 the same pair returned, produced three eggs but the male was killed by an eagle, and the female after three days, left the nest to feed her nest temporarily. During her absence, two crows came and ate all three eggs. The female osprey hang around the empty nest for several days, but eventually left.
In early March 2023, the female osprey returned to the nest, but a couple of Canadian geese displaced her and occupied the nest. The human owner intervened and scared the Canadian geese away. The female osprey.. now we call her Matilda..immediately returned to the nest. A total of three male ospreys fought over Matilda’s nest, and eventually a male (we named him Oliver) succeeded. The couple produced three eggs. The menhaden fish Oliver carried to Matilda ware on the average only 2-3 inches long, compared to 2021 observation when the menhaden fish on the average were 5 inches long. After listening to Dr Watts talk during the Colonial Beach Osprey festival about supplemental feeding, we stated to give one frozen sardine a week to Matilda. Although only two chicks were born, they are growing ok.