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2016 Observations from the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail Osprey Cam

March 17, 2016 - one osprey was observed on the nest platform erected two years ago by Town Public Works personnel and Chesapeake Beach Osyter Cultivation Society volunteers. Ospreys have nested on the platform during both prior seasons. Over the next few weeks one or more ospreys were observed bringing sticks and other nest material to the platform.

March 28 and 29 - on various occasions the birds were observed conducting "birds and the bees" activities...

April 14 or very early on April 15 - the first egg was laid. She should lay 1-3 more eggs over the next few days.

April 18 - a second egg was observed.

April 21 - a possible third egg. It is difficult to determine with certainty whether a third egg is present. He or she doesn't stand up very often, and the eggs have settled down in the nest bowl.

May 3 - incubation continues following a night of 50mph winds, torrential downpours and pea-sized hail

May 13 - 3 eggs confirmed

May 24 - second chick confirmed

May 25 - "mom" observed feeding two chicks, with third egg in plain sight. Breakfast appeared to be from the latter one-third of a menhaden.

May 25 - Recap -- Assumptions: First egg laid on or about April 14. Adding 38 days (range is 38-40), the first chick should have hatched May 21. Three days later (May 24), the second chick hatched. Assuming 3 days between eggs (and hatchings), the third chick should hatch on or about May 27... Literature indicates that the first chick to hatch has a higher probability of survival than subsequent chicks because of their size advantage (having been fed and growing those extra days).

May 26 - third chick confirmed!

June 5, 0715hr -- "Mom" was observed leaving the nest unguarded for a few minutes occasionally. Of the three chicks, two appear to have dark heads and one, the smallest chick, has a clearly whitish head. A photo from another website showed showed a chick with a whitish head next to two unhatched eggs. Perhaps sexual dimporphism at an early age? The two dark headed chicks are standing and taking rudimentary steps. "Mom" has a brownish necklace across her chest, and "Dad" has a solid white chest (consistent with the literature). This morning he was observed bringing more nest material to the platform and rearranging sticks and twigs while she fed the chicks.

June 6, 0733hr -- The smallest chick with the white head appeared motionless as "Mom" fed the other two chicks. One of the dark headed chicks was basically sitting atop the motionless chick for 10-15 minutes.

June 6, 0804hr -- "Mom" observed bringing larger sticks to the platform and placing them around the wall of the nest, perhaps to build up the rim of the nest to keep the chicks from easily stepping off the edge. The third chick with the white head appears to have died and is no longer visible in the nest.

June 6, 0930hr -- "Dad" arrived at the nest with a live catfish about 12 inches in length. After a few minutes, he flew off with his catfish...

June 10, 0730hr -- "Mom" preening, both chicks napping.

Jun 20, 2016 -- The two chicks continue to grow and appear to be about the same size. Approaching one month of age, the next milestone for them will be fledging, or attaining all the feathers necessary for flight. Estimates vary and remember that the chicks hatched about 3 days apart. Adding 55 days to the mid-point of hatching among the two chicks, fledging should occur on or about July 18. Expect short flights and rough landings ...

UPDATE:  It was announced at the July 22, 2016 Town Council Meeting that the osprey camera was hit by lightning during a June storm. Because the young ospreys have reached fledging status (ability to take flight), a decision was made not to disturb the nest area to replace the camera. Young birds face many challenges when they leave the nest -- early flights and landings being high on the list -- and we don't want to be the cause of premature flight activity.