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.
8:45 a.m. No sign of any life on the nest when I arrived. I found I could see more of the nest by parking close to the route 173 (east) side of the parking lot rather than pulling way over to the west side where I usually park. At 8:55 I saw a large bird flying around the area and it landed on a post on the second tier from the top. It was the fledgling! I had not see the chick from this nest flying although I expected it probably had fledged or soon would. The fledgling stood on the post preening until 9:12 when it flew off and circled the tower a couple times before landing on the nest. The chick continued preening and also picked at the bottom of the nest (left-overs?). It was still standing on the nest at 9:50 a.m. I saw no sign of either adult the entire time I observed the nest. At 10:00 the chick flew up to a post above the nest and almost immediately flew off and headed to the northwest toward the Delaware River.
I believe that on 8/5 and also on 7/22 I witnessed neighboring ospreys intruding on this osprey family. I wonder how common these "friendly" (at least not deadly) intrusions are since osprey tend to nest closer to each other than eagles. Two of the nests I watch (The Narrows and Phillips Farm) are very close together--within sight of each other--but I have never seen any intrusions that I am aware of. In any case, in spite of seeing a second fledgling on the tower and in the nest two days ago, I believe this nest has produced only one chick this year.
1:10 p.m. The light was pretty good and I set up in the parking area of the truck stop. I was shocked to see two chicks at the nest through my scope. One chick was perched on a bar above the nest next to the female who was perched on a post. The second chick was standing in the nest with its head down and appeared to be eating. Both clearly exhibited the white-scalloped brown feathers of youth! The chick perched above the nest vocalized constantly and seemed to want to join in the meal. Finally, it did jump into the nest. I saw a flurry of wings and controversy as the two chicks went at it over the food. Mom reacted immediately, jumping up to a second post and then down into the nest. She appeared to be jumping on and between both chicks. What was going on?? After a continuous struggle, she (the adult female) was forced out and flew down between the strutts of the tower but returned quickly and perched on a high post overlooking the nest. The two chicks continued to "fight" over the food, wings everywhere! Mom dove back into the nest, rooted around in the bottom and flew off with a fish leaving the two chicks with no meal at 1:20 p.m. I reviewed the several videos of the action and saw the plumage of the two chicks clearly through my scope. I saw a nest intrusion on 1/22 by an adult female. I wonder if another osprey family is nearby and "visiting." I wonder if one of the chicks was a fledgling from another nest which saw the fish and decided to invite itself to lunch?! The resident female then tried to prevent the intruder from eating? I guess this nest deserves some further observation. It had already been a long morning so I left after the female took the fish away. I wonder if I had stayed if the intruding (?) fledgling would have left and then Mom would have returned to feed her own chick?I find it strange that I could never get a good look at chick(s) until just 3 days ago and then I saw and photographed only one. Now, today, I see two big chicks clearly visible in and near the nest. This is puzzling and interesting and if I can determine an explanation, it will require another trip out to the Truck Stop!
9:15 a.m. I finally got a good view and photos on the one chick which is now as large as Mom. Mom was sitting high on the post and the chick was sitting high enough on the nest that it was visible from the truck stop lot.
I then moved to route 173 just west of the I-78 ramp. The lighting was excellent there and I was able to watch the chick vigorously wing flapping and getting "big air" as it hovered over the nest. It won't be long until this chick fledges.
10:00 a.m. On the way north I took the Stillwater Rd extension and could see Mom on the post and one nestling lying low in the nest. I then proceded to the route I-78 overpass on route 173 for a different view, but could not spot the chick from that view point. Neither the adult nor the chick moved while I watched. I believe that this chick is a couple weeks younger than the fledglings in the area.
11:50 a.m. After checking another nest nearby, I returned to have a better look at this nest. It is difficult to see into this nest since it is in the back corner and the tower is much higher than the view point. The morning light is not good from the Truck Stop parking lot. I parked on the wide shoulder of route 173 in several places and observed a very strange series of events which I have never seen nor heard of before among ospreys or other raptors.
I saw that the male (#1) was perched on one of the posts and a larger bird, presumably the female (#1), was standing in the nest over next to the nest bowl. I assumed this was the resident pair. I could not see the chick. It was way back in the nest bowl which is almost hidden from most of the practical view points.
12:02 p.m. The two adults were now perched above the nest platform level facing the truck stop parking lot. I was on the I-78 bridge on route 173 when a third adult (female #2) flew into the nest with a fish at 12:04 p.m.! I also am guessing that #2 was female based on its size in comparison to female #1 and the male. The female #1 immediately left the perch and jumped into the nest confronting female #2. There was a tussle between the two. #2 immediately mantled and remained with its wings outspread for the rest of the time it was in the nest. #1 did not combat or confront after the original tussle, but stood and vocalized continously. #2 vocalized and mantled. This continued for at least 10 minutes. The male remained on the perch and didn't seem to react. It flew off near the end of the stand-off in the nest, but didn't seem to participate, defend or react to the interloper.
#1 was back standing by the nest bowl to the right of #2 (mantling). At one point I saw the chick moving and it raised its head. The head is all I could see clearly above the nest sticks. I could see its back moving, but not clearly. The nest bowl is so far back.
Not long after #2 flew into the nest with its fish, a second male (#2) flew by quickly. I was able to catch and confirm a lot of this action in videos which I continued to take while watching in the scope and taking notes.
Male #1 finally left its perch while the two females watched it fly off.
Finally, female #2 rose and flew off with the fish! #1 followed and chased. They circled around high above the nest. I noticed at least three, and probably four adults circling high over head. I could see one had the fish still its its talons, but couldn't tell exactly what was happening nor could I tell males from females. There was no violent talon combat that I could observe in the sky.
Finally, female #2 returned to the nest with the fish....unless this was female #1 and she had "stolen" the fish in mid-air from #2. She was "escorted" back to the nest by the male, who perched on a post but flew off soon after.
This female then proceded to eat and appeared to be feeding the chick.
So, what the heck happened!? Who was the second pair of ospreys? Was the pair which were at the nest first the parents of the chick and thus the resident pair? Was female #1 actually an interloper and female #2 the mom bringing in a fish for her chick? If so, why did the perched male tolerate female #1? Was the male (presumably male) which flew by part of the second pair, the nesting pair, or just some random male?
I assume the female which ended up back at the nest eating/feeding was the resident female and mother. I would guess that it was her mate who followed her back to the nest, perhaps after helping her drive away the interloper(s), but there is really no way to know for sure what happened in this bizaar episode!
11:30 a.m. One adult was perched on the post and it appeared to be Mom. The morning light is not good for this tower, but from the size of the perched adult, I thought it was the female. The adult flew off after I had been observing for a few minutes.
From the truck stop parking lot, the nest bowl is in the corner farthest away from my view point and totally hidden behind one of the wide upright posts. It is difficult to see the chick because of this. It was impossible to see it when it was small. I thought by now it would be big enough to see sitting up and moving around the nest, but today it appeared to be staying in the back corner! I decided to move to route 173 to see if I could get a better look into the nest.
8:20 a.m. As I approached the tower on route 173 I saw the adult (female I assumed) fussing around with the bottom of the nest toward the back of the nest, away from the Truck Stop lot where I watch. I took a photo from the shoulder of 173. Then I parked. Soon after parking I saw a chick stretch its wings. This chick appeared to have more down on it and be younger than the chicks at Asbury Farm, Beattys Rd, or Bloomsbury. I can't be sure because I haven't gotten a good look at the chick. It continued to stretch and move around. I have only seen one chick here. The entire time I observed, the adult (female?) scratched around in the bottom of the nest behind where the chick was stretching. I wonder if this nest has had food pressure issues since there is only one chick and I haven't seen much feeding nor food delivery. This nest only had one chick last year as well, but in 2020, three successfully fledged. When I got home and watched the videos I took on my computer, enlarged, it appeared as though the female was actually feeding the check and picking apart prey from the back of the nest. She seemed to be eating some herself as well.
I hope to get a better look at the chick next visit when it is older/larger. The nest bowl is way back toward the southeast, away from all possible viewing spots and the chick is hidden behind all the posts and other parts of the cell tower structure. Some of the time, I hardly even see it moving during the time I watch because it is so hidden.
3:12 p.m. The female was sitting high on the nest but I did not see any chicks at first. Then I saw movement through the nest rails of at least one nestling. At 3:16 Mom was calling non-stop. At 3:18 I saw big wing stretches from one nestling. At 3:20 Mom flew off the nest but returned a minute later and perched on the post above the nest. At 3:22 she flew back down to the nest. I did not see prey brought in and did not see her feeding the chick(s).
2:35 p.m. An adult was sitting on a post, but it had its back to me so I could not tell if it was the female or the male. I couldn't see nestlings. The adult flew off the post at 2:39 p.m. I thought it was strange that the nest was left unattended and that I saw no sign of nestlings. Has this nest failed?
3:10 p.m. The female was on the nest which was fully exposed to a very hot sun. I saw no chicks, but it seemed like the female was trying to provide shade with her body to protect the chicks from the hot sun.
3:50 p.m. One adult, probably the female, sat very low in the nest the entire time I watched. I could hardly see her head except that she moved it around. She was almost below the edge of the nest. It appeared she was incubating.
12:22 p.m. The nest looked empty. During the entire time I was watching, I didn't see either of the adults and it didn't appear that one was hidden low in the nest. I didn't stay long enough to spot the pair, and mid-day is usually not a very active time!
10:55 a.m. The female was perched on a post on the east side of the tower. I took her photo from the shoulder of route 173. I then parked at the back of the Truck Stop. I saw no movement at first in the nest. Then I saw a single chick stir to the far right, mostly hidden by the posts. I then got a good view of its head and beak. Mom looked down when the chick stirred. How many chicks? So far I can only confirm one at this nest. At 11:00 Mom flew off the post, circled around the nest tower, and landed again on the side of the tower nearest to the Truck Stop parking lot where I was watching. At 11:20a.m. the wind had picked up and the chick began to wing flap and hover quite a lot. I had the impression that with all that activity and commotion in the nest, any second or third chick would have gotten up and been seen. At 11:25 when I left I had still seen only one chick.
10:00 a.m. The female was feeding one chick on the nest the entire time I watched. I could not tell if there was a second chick. At 10:10 I saw another bird in the nest. I believe it was the mate with prey. At 10:25 the female was still feeding the chick.
I saw one bird on the nest. It was difficult to see most of the nest clearly. Could this pair still be incubating? It is unlikely, but perhaps the chicks were down and the adult shading them from the intense heat.
3:20 p.m. At first the nest appeared empty, but then I saw the male flying in with a nice fish for his mate! The female stood up and they both ate some. There could possibly be eggs as the female was sitting low prior to the fish delivery. I believe it was the female who flew off after eating some of the fish, thus I may have witnessed a nest exchange.
9:00 a.m. In the morning, prior to meeting at a nearby Wawa for a bike ride, I checked this nest. The lighting was from behind the nest--this nest is better seen in afternoon light. I could see two fledglings through my scope, perched two tiers down from the top of the tower where the nest is. I did not see the third, but it has no doubt also fledged. I am estimating the fledge date as 8/8. In the photo, which was back-lit, you cannot distinguish the juvenile plumage, but it was evident through the scope.
1:40-1:50p.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 nests and chicks down. This nest is intact and the three chicks are sitting up on the nest calling persistently. Two are easy to see, the third is hidden behind its siblings to the right in the photo. I don't stay long and don't see parents. These chicks should be fledging very soon, but still seem to be calling parents for a fish delivery rather than going out on their own.
12:51p.m. When I arrived, nothing much was happening. I saw two of the three chicks preening. At 1:00 p.m. a parent flies in. I now see all three chicks and they are excited and vocalizing. They appear to be self feeding now so the parent must have brought in prey.
About this time, Joe, the owner of the Truck Stop, approached my car and asked about the birds/nest. I explained and gave him a brochure, info sheet, and my card. He is very happy the birds are there, and tells me he is happy I am there watching! He is super interested and friendly! He says, "It is really nice you are here watching. We are glad the birds are there, and happy to have you watching all these days (I have stopped a lot because this nest is near others)." He thanked me for doing it! Wow! He asked about the size of the nest and of the birds and many other questions about them! Very interested!
12:15 p.m. Mom is perched on an upper strut, and 3 big chicks are sitting in the nest looking away from me, which would be toward the river! Maybe they see Dad fishing? Mom preens, the chicks call persistently encouraging Dad to hurry up and catch lunch. I see one of the chicks vigorously wing flapping in the breeze and wonder if I am going to see a second fledge! 12:20 the adult male flies into the nest and it appears he has a fish. I hear excited chick vocals, but Dad immediately flies to a pillar and takes the fish with him! The chicks go nuts! He then flies back into the nest, but starts eating the fish himself. At that point, it is interesting, but the chicks sit and watch and wait their turn, they do not show any aggression, try to grab the fish, or mantle it. Eventually, they do get their share!
5:35-5:50 p.m. When I first parked and set up my scope and camera, the three chicks were moving around a lot. One especially was doing a lot of wing flapping. I got a great video of this one "flying" about 2-3 feet above the nest--getting really "big air!" After about five minutes, a parent flew in with something that I couldn't make out. I did not see the chicks make a move to eat whatever she brought, so maybe it wasn't prey, and perhaps they have already been fed. The parent perched on a pillar above the nest. Two of the chicks sat more or less inactive, and our "high flier" continued his strenuous wing exercises! These chicks look about the same age as others in the area. Will look for fledging very soon.
7:12p.m. The late afternoon light is good for viewing this nest from the truck stop parking and this is the second nest tonight that I was able to confirm THREE CHICKS! Mom was on the nest with the three for awhile. The young were wing flapping vigorously. Mom was not feeding, so the meal was earlier. Mom did busy herself moving sticks around the nest and then hopped to the top rail of the tower before flying off at 7:20 p.m.
1:30 p.m. This nest is on the way to the Pohatcong Quarry nest which is my priority today. Since I drive right past, I tried to get some good views from the route 173 bridge over I-78, but could only see one adult perched on a pillar. I then moved to the Truck Stop Parking lot. One adult, probably the female, was perched on pillars and calling persistently. I could see no chicks. Unfortunately I could not stay to see the male come in with the fish which the female was calling for. I had to get to the quarry which closes at 3 p.m. in order to see if I could determine if there are chicks at that nest.
10:45a.m. I approached on route 173 heading west and could see the nest from a different angle. I stopped along an overpass when I was quite close to the tower. It is a good view, but would be better very early before traffic and with morning sun, better still early Sunday! I see one adult perched and one adult eating. At 11:00 a.m. I move to the truck stop/gas station parking lot and see two chicks. The male flies off the perch and heads southwest toward the river. The female is vocalizing. I don't see her feeding the chicks. One is mostly down and out of sight.
3:40 p.m. I park in the back of the truck stop and set up my scope. I immediately see two active chicks and Mom at the nest. I am lucky I saw the two because soon they appear to lie down and aren't visible. In the photo, one has already disappeared into the deep nest.
9:45 a.m. I am trying to locate reported nests that have not been closely "followed" in order to have the osprey chicks in Central and North Jersey "counted" in our state totals.
Driving along Edge Rd I locate this nest and it is very far away! However, I find a gas station/truck stop at the corner of routes 22 and New Brunswick (route 122) and pull in. The tower is right at this busy corner near the I-78 cloverleaf and the nest viewing and the parking is quite good. I see one adult sitting on the nest as if incubating or brooding. The mate then flies in with a stick at 10:12 a.m. I assume this pair either has eggs or chicks and will return soon to check again.