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Woolwich, Maine

August 17, 2013


I got back from my meeting late on August 16 - and not surprisingly, made places to visit the Taste of Maine Restaurant on August 17.

I got there around 3:45 pm - and the same chick was there on the nest as I'd seen on the 10th. Making a guess as to gender, based on what appeared to me to be the chick's large size and somewhat rounded shape, she appeared to be in good health. (As an aside, a "necklace" of brown feathers is more common on adult females than on adult males - though there are quite a few exceptions - but it's much less gender-specific in chicks; she does have a necklace, but that isn't why I'm guessing she's female.)

I had come with the intention of staying a while, and seeing how she was doing. During the first hour I was there, she moved around the nest; she called for food from time to time - sometimes energetically, sometimes a bit half-heartedly, or so it seemed to me; and she took a quick flight out over Route 1, across the back marsh area, and back to the nest. (All pictures click larger.)

I had taken a peek at the tide charts, and had intentionally arrived when the tide was out, thinking that the shallower water as the tide came in might make for easier fishing, if she was fishing for herself. Because I spent a lot of time looking out over marshes, here's what they looked like at about 4 pm; if your screen is wide enough for these two pictures to be side by side, they provide a bit of a panorama.

For the next 40 minutes, the chick hung out on the next, calling from time to time, preening, and looking about. And I hung out, occasionally taking pictures. I'm posting rather more pictures than I usually would because it is getting near the end of the season. I'm not actually sure when the chicks fledged - I know the first observed flight was July 22 and I know everyone had fledged by August 6 (and I suspect sooner), but with the cam not broadcasting to the internet and the folks at the restaurant quite sensibly focused on running a restaurant, it's hard to be sure. It's my impression that while an occasional chick may leave earlier, most chicks stay around the nest for a month or so after fledging, usually being fed by the male and ideally tagging along after him to learn a bit about how to catch fish. I checked my records from 2010 (the last year we had chicks fledge at this nest), and the two chicks both fledged by July 22 (so a bit earlier than this year), and at least one chick and the male were still in the area on September 5th, and probably at least 4-5 days later. So I'd expect Dad and the remaining chick to stay near the nest until at least the beginning of September, though of course only they know for sure what their travel plans are.

I saw Mom and the two surviving chicks on July 29 (I haven't posted those pictures yet), and did not see Mom when I visited August 1st, though both chicks were there. That was the last time I saw the chick that I thought was male, who seemed slimmer, and who did not have an obvious brown necklace - and it's possible that he followed Mom as she began her leisurely journey south. (I say leisurely because the females usually leave shortly after the chicks fledge, perhaps to have time away from the nest area to rest and regain their strength after several months spent mostly on the nest with eggs and then chicks, before they need to fly over large bodies of water to reach South America or the islands off the coast of North America where northern osprey seem to spend the winter.) It's not uncommon for a chick to disappear about the same time that the female is last seen at a nest, and while there are a lot of dangers for young osprey, many of us like to think that the missing chick may have headed south with Mom.

Wow - I sure can ramble on. Here are the pictures I took between 4:37 and 5:17 pm:

I'm afraid the next series aren't the best pictures I've ever taken - but hopefully they tell the story. At about 5:17 pm, the chick scooched down in the nest and started some serious peeping for food. I wasn't able to track the osprey with the camera as he (I assume) approached, but the second picture shows what I believe is Dad's wing as he landed on the nest. The third picture shows Dad with wings extended, trying to keep his balance as the chick removes the fish from his foot. And the fourth picture actually shows Dad and the chick, who is still mantling her dinner, but has now raised her head a bit.

After delivering dinner, Dad left immediately, and went to perch in the large pine tree across the street where I've seen him before. I', afraid these pictures aren't very clear - it was a long reach for my lens. He was still there when I left a little over an hour later, keeping watch over his nest and offspring.

You would think that after finally getting a fish delivered, the chick would happily begin to eat - but no. It's perhaps a good thing that I don't know what she was saying - but she was very vocal for a good 10 minutes!

She did look as if she was planning to take off with her prize a couple of times (at 5:37 and 5:49 pm, about 20 and 30 minutes after the food was delivered); I'm afraid the first picture is fuzzy when clicked to full size - I'm including it because I love her expression.

I decided that it was time that I thought about my own dinner. As I headed inside, I checked the monitor in the lobby, and learned that Dad had delivered a relatively small fish - perhaps encouragement for her to begin to do a bit of fishing on her own. The hostess graciously seated me at a corner table with a great view of the nest, and I settled down to my dinner - though the chick was still doing more peeping than eating.

At about 5:50 pm, a bit more than a half hour after the fish was delivered, the chick began to eat. Though she did stop from time to time to provide some commentary, perhaps about the size of the fish, or the fact that she had to tear it apart all by herself, without the help of an adult.

Of course, to be fair, I should mention that the chick is only 11-1/2 weeks old - so perhaps she's entitled to wish she still got the attention she received from the parents a week or two ago.

A little earlier in this post, I showed what the marsh looked like at low tide. Here it is again at 6:30 pm, 2-1/2 hours later. No where near high tide - but a lot more water than there was.

Dad was still perched in the pine tree across the street when I left, keeping an eye on his chick - as Dads usually do until the chicks have all left on their great migration south. I couldn't get a clear shot of him, so I'll end with one last picture of the youngster in her nest - looking out into the world beyond the marsh.


If you'd like to see additional pictures from this nest, and from the osprey nest "around the corner" on the Sasanoa River, you can use the link for my Local Wildlife Home Page at the top of the page to see an index to all the visits.