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OspreyZone Highlights: George Returns
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Written by Dr. Rob Bierregaard & Illustrated by Kate Garchinsky
Take flight with Belle, an osprey born on Martha’s Vineyard as she learns to fly and migrates for the first time to Brazil and back–a journey of more than 8,000 miles.
IMPORTANT: Messages from osprey experts
I haven’t seen the little guy yet this morning, but I would be very surprised if he survived the night. That sure was tough to watch yesterday, but that whole process is as much a part of the essence of being an Osprey as is eating a fish. It’s part of the life of Ospreys that was rarely seen before we started putting cameras in nests. As hard as it is, we should not label the behavior as mean or cruel. Being mean or cruel implies that there is intent to do harm just for harm’s sake. Those young were responding to a set of stimuli (very little food being delivered to the nest and the presence of a very small young) in a way that evolution has hard-wired into them. It helps ensure their survival. Nature is not cruel. It is harsh, unforgiving, and often random (had the little guy been born 1st, he would have been just as aggressive as was his sibling), but not cruel or mean.
Paul Henry ospreyzone July 1, 2015 at 8:17 am
Thanks Rob for bringing your knowledge and experience to help us all gain perspective here. We are all saddened by the events that unfolded before our eyes and it’s only natural for all of us to feel and express our emotions appropriately. There have been many issues pertaining to intervention which have been discussed amongst us all. There is no doubt in my mind that the right decision was made, to let nature take it’s course. By the way, that doesn’t equate to heartless, on the contrary, nobody feels worse about this then the apparent decision makers. I say apparent, because when all was said and done, and all the issues were properly weighed, there really weren’t any other options. It was clearly pointed out, by experts, that intervening at this stage could have spooked the whole nest to the point of losing all the young. If the little one was saved, and nursed back to health, what kind of a life would it have had, perhaps caged up in a zoo. I remember when I was younger I saw a golden eagle in captivity, caged behind a wire mesh. I could practically see it’s tears. As far as placing the little one in another nest, such a low probability of success would never have justified the possibility of spooking the nest. There’s a piece of me, however heavy hearted, that believes that perhaps it is better to be born free and die free. We mourn for the little one as we marvel at the wonders of nature.
Thanks for your query, and you have my admiration for persevering. We know very well how tough your job is, including dealing with an anxious public.
Our policy with our Bird Cams project is essentially “just say no” to pleas for interference. The behavior you are witnessing – while seemingly cruel and heartless to us – is natural for many kinds of birds, especially those that feed on variable, unpredictable food supplies. The little nestling does have a chance to survive, but if it does not then that result was “meant to be” by the nature of Osprey breeding strategy. The wonderful things about these nest cameras also sometimes yield the difficult things for us to watch. As you might know, we actually post a “siblicide alert” on some of our cams where we suspect the possibility exists.
I’m copying your note to Charles Eldermire, project leader for our Bird Cams. He may have some additional comments, and he would be the one to ask if we might be able to use your stored files for biological analysis.
Best wishes, and good luck,
John W. Fitzpatrick
Director, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
It’s also important to acknowledge that intervening can also cause problems of its own—depending on the ages of the birds in the nest, disturbing them can trigger an early fledge. We have restricted the scenarios in which we would even consider intervening to injuries or dangers that are explicitly human-derived. For example, 3 or 4 years ago we were alerted by viewers that one of the osprey chicks at the Hellgate Osprey nest was entangled in monofilament line. We consulted with our partners there (wildlife biologists, raptor researchers, raptor rehabbers) to determine if the monofilament was an issue, and if intervening was both likely to solve the issue AND not have bad effects on the other nestlings. In the end, a quick trip to the nest was scheduled via a bucket truck, the monofilament was removed, and the nestlings all eventually fledged. In that case, all of the permits were already in hand to be studying the ospreys, and we had already discussed how to approach issues in the nest.
Good luck to the young one—hope it all turns out well.
Bird Cams Project Leader
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
I’ve been to your site—great cam! And I noticed the runt in the nest. This is just normal Osprey reproduction. It happens all the time and you should not intervene. It’s tough to watch, but it’s how nature works. Ospreys almost always lay 3 eggs and on average fledge between 1 and 1.5 young each year. They stagger the hatch so there is a spread of ages in the young. That way, if food is short, the first-hatched (and therefore largest) will get enough food to survive while the smaller nest mates do not. If all three young were the same size and there was only enough food for 1 young, none of the young would get enough food and they would all die. If there’s lots of food, the smallest will eventually get fed and can survive. These nest cams can show some gut-wrenching scenes. The most infamous perhaps was one of the very first Osprey cams (on Long Island somewhere), where the smallest young died. One of the adults carried it out of the nest and after several minutes flew back into the nest and fed it to the other young. Waste-not-want-not at its goriest. At Hog Island up in Maine just last week a Bald Eagle came in and took the young out of the nest. Last year at another nest, cameras documented a Great-horned Owl taking young Ospreys out of a nest in NJ or MD. All of these things have been going on for millions of years and Ospreys are doing fine.
Academy of Natural Sciences
Wonderful news to see the wanderer has returned. You are a genius Betsy letting us see another great video. Thank you.
I think Dos #2 lost a little weight in the couple days he was gone. #3 looks as big if not bigger than him now. Glad it’s figured out how to get back for some food.
Maybe this is why. Since #3 is younger, he/she is probably still growing. The growth of #1 and #2 is tapering off and #3 is catching up.
I forgot to enter the time– 11:42:00 am Jul 28,2016
I’ve been back watching the art of flight as instructed by #2.. Take offs, circle arounds, landings, and the chat involved with # 1 & # 3. Hope they pick up some good points. 🙂
How wonderful that Chick #2 is back!!
For Betsy: Your video of #2 fledging is great. I also love the clock and the scene with the question marks.
It looks to me that #1 is going to take the leap today. #2 was ‘egging’ him on. I was imagining the conversation – “You can do it!” “Just go”.
~sings~ reunited and it feels so good….
Very happy there’s a full nest again…
“…and then a huge storm rolled in and….”
Renee – love this picture!! Cute. lol
it does look like a kaffeeklatsch..(had to look that one up Ha)
“….and there was a whale, yeah, that’s it- a big whale!…”
Betsy – your video about #2 is awesome!!! Using the clock was so clever. Thank you for keeping us well informed about our Osprey family and educated about Ospreys in general.
Besty! Best video ever!! thank you so much! i love it and i am really happy.
I would hope my 3 comments yesterday with time stated were of some assistance in determining approx time of return as 5:47PM> I got so excited and then went to bed unsure as there was no confirmation until just a bit ago. I faithfully watch,m bu fail to read all the comments as I get carried away with the nest site.
Making a suggestion for next season…since some feel they are being ignored or forgotten on their comments or pictures…why not have two separate pages. One for observations on just, what is happening in the nest and one for comments, videos and pictures. Even though I don’t comment often or make observations, I love watching the cam.
I think that is not needed. People just need to be more patient when they post comments and give the moderators time to go through everything. The comments will post in due time.
This isn’t an instant gratification comment page 🙂
Instant gratification wasn’t my intent…I thought it would be easier to manage. Since some are viewing and posting more often, how about appointing one of them as a moderator.
Or, to keep down the volume of comments to be moderated, think twice before they post.
Elizabeth – I think that’s a great idea. I enjoy reading the comments, especially from those who are ‘experts.’ But, I must admit that sometimes it’s just too much with pictures, comments, and videos. A separate section for videos and photos might work better. 🙂
Gracie and George are just phenomenal parents. Just absolutely amazing. Feeding her wayward child to the gills! Bless you Mom! And I have decided that we should call #1 Sneezy.
Thank You Betsy! This was so great to see. I still think with all the attention given to #1 and #3 this year #2 felt left out. Needed to cause a little stir of his own. See you missed me!
#1 definitely has a cough. I really hope that the cooler temps will help with the air quality, and therefore his/her breathing. Upper respiratory problems can be really rough on birds. 🙁
But I do have to add that the gnawing at the camera casing is ADORABLE! and now, second breakfast has arrived, so there is something better to chew on ^_~
Yes, A has been sneezing all day. When A is by camera you can hear grunting sounds
You are right, I noticed that “duck” sound too! Worrisome, either way. I am hoping that it will clear up when it cools off out there and the bad air gets pushed out.
I was watching the nest a few days ago and I swore I saw No1 actually Sneeze a number of times. Maybe you or someone else saw him sneeze
Again maybe you or someone else may know if Ospreys do in fact Sneeze, they do have Nostrils so why not
Oh, yeah! You are right, it could be a sneeze, too. Either way, upper respiratory issue 🙁 Still dangerous. Hopefully the air will clear up and help the problem clear up too!
I would swear that the right baby is back. All three are compatible.
There’s so much drama in this nest this “show” should be called The Real Ospreys of Long Island
I still think #2 was out looking for Pokemon
Thanks for the laugh.
LOL!! Thanks for the laugh! Yes, it should be called exactly that. And then Betsy can put in some dialogue in her videos. For instance, “Hey, bro, where were you all this time? Mom and Dad were so worried.”
Yes!! And the title it “The Real Ospreys of Long Island”!! 😀
9:25 A.M. Thursday – Three Juveniles coexisting calmly on the nest. Heres hoping one is the wayward #2.
I posted yesterday at exactly 5:47 pm that # 2 returned to the nest but the comment did not even get posted on here…why are some people’s comments printed and others not always??? I feel like I am being ignored sometimes.
Hi Arlene, From what I understand, there are only one or two people moderating the posts! Since there was a lot of drama with the first fledge, there were a lot of posts for them to keep up with. So you are definitely not being ignored! Just put into a queue that might take the mods awhile to get through.
Thanks Tora for the info!!
I see your comment way down on the page (47) … we all posted about 2 being back. Your post is time stamped at 7:17pm. Perhaps like me, you had scrolled the feed back to see what was going on. I always do that as I just check in a few times a day.
Glad to see it really is no. 2 that’s back… I admittedly can barely tell between one two and three anymore. Just that 3 has a thin spot on his neck.
JP I posted twice and the first time it was right around the 5:47 pm time when 2 landed….but thanks for the info…the order of posts confuses me….I think its better I don’t post at all.
Arlene, your comment at 5:47 did post and if you search back through the comments, as I just did, you will find it. You have to wait for the moderators to clear the comments for them to show up. A little patience it all that is needed. You are not being ignored 🙂
Thanks Jai 😉
My RAY of sunshine is back!!!!! So HAPPY !!! 😉 🙂 🙂
We were all ecstatic!! But you must have been over the moon with joy, Bre!! 😀
8:30 Eastern — AM I SEEING THINGS???? BB2 is back?!?!?! Yay. Guess I was wrong about the strength of those wings. Now we can all relax until the next one decides to go on an adventure.
Did I just see baby #2 return??!!
Oh I see the pix from yesterday now! He is flying around regularly now because he just landed back on the nest.
Looks like #2 left again this morning and missed breakfast. Came back not long after though, and #1 was once again defensive and adorable (though still coughing! 🙁 ) Now 2 is yapping for food. You have to schedule your outings a bit better, little one!
Coming back B perfect landing
8:26 am…BB2 just got back from his morning fly.
I am suprised not to see any updated comments here since around 5pm yesterday. I believe #2 is back and was back around 6ish . I see 3 this morning.
As much as I love the Hog Island cam, one can’t beat Ospreyzone for drama!
It sounds like the prodigal offspring has really returned. Fascinating that it was gone so long. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had spent some of that time at another nest.
I noticed one of the young feeding itself off a bit of fish this morning. Apparently the Hog Island young have been doing this for a while and more often than the Zone young. Question for those who watch more than I do, how often have you seen the young feeding themselves? It seems George and Gracie are so attentive that they never give the young a chance to feed themselves.
One of the older young is in a major nest remodeling mode right now. Before nest cams, we didn’t know how much young participate in home decorating.
I have seen self feeding off and on for a few days to a week. Not all the time.
I think they still prefer to be fed by Mommy or Daddy, but I have seen them also feed themselves for the past several days.
It was mostly tailfins at first, but for maybe 3 days now, the push seems to be on. Both parents are still feeding, too.
Must be exciting, with the many nests you’ve watched, to still be seeing something different. This is even a much different experience than last year’s OZ.
I’m positive it is Big Bully breathing like that. At 8:16 he walks up closer to the camera and you can definitely hear it. This could be why he hasn’t fledged yet. He knows he doesn’t have the lung power.
So glad our wayward chick came home last night. It looks like he has taken off all ready this morning. Fishing with Dad!
At approx.8:05 this morning I started hearing what sounded like a duck as I was reading comments, I scrolled back up and it was just Big Bully and Littlebit sitting mostly in the blind corner but then Big Bully sneezed and I’m quite concerned he has an upper respiratory infection.
Why are there no comments after 4:16 on the 27th? I posted 2 that are not there either. Why do they seem to go away and maybe come back at a later date or maybe not? I would just like to understand how this site is structured to post comments. Thanks.
After you post a comment it is at the top of the page or near the top “awaiting moderation” . I have found that you have to log off of Osprey Zone for it to be put into the queue for moderation and then after it is checked for content by the wonderful OZ team it is posted to the comments section in the order it was posted by you. It took me a while to figure it out too and sometimes it does take a while for them to get around to checking all the posts but as I imagine it can take quite a while to get through all the postings. I’ve learned that patience is definitely needed and I’m sure appreciated by all who read the comment section.
Praying for chick #2. Praying hard…
5:38 a.m. EDT – Wonderful footage of our #2 having a wonderful time flying around the nest showing off for his sisters.
HI, I don’t see any comments about #2 returning to the nest last evening 7-27-2016. He came in about 17:45 pm. I have a picture with them label. I was watching when he came in and took the snapshot so I know who #1 was. George brought a fish in and he self fed himself. #2 stayed in the nest all evening- then it got dark. I checked this am and he was still there but left about 05:40 am 7-28-2016. I have a snapshot of that also showing he was still in the nest. But didn’t post it. I don’t usually post but wanted others to know.
Flyeagle78: Thank you!! Your picture’s good!! You should post pictures!!
Good news!!! Last night (July 27) I came home at 7pm to see a happy family of 3 chicks and 2 parents! I scrolled back and saw #2 arrive around 5:30ish. #2 was definitely back at the nest and was there until I stopped watching at dark. #2 flew away a few times and came back to the nest. #1 did a lot of high hovering. #3 did a lot of flapping. Also a lot of stick movement.
Still home. On right , in corner. Look at our big Baby!
July 28…5:39 am. Chick 2 left the nest, circled around and came back. Think he landed on perch. Not sure where Gracie is.
Forecast- low to mid 80s, sunny…cooler-low 70s- and overcast overnight- increasing chance of t-storms after midnight. possible rain tomorrow.
On the fledge schedge- Well, we were all wrong with Dos. Everyone missed on Uno except JuneC.- youstill have tomorrow for #1
Scrolling back to 5:30 AM and #2 is in the nest. So happy to see him/her.
Trey is out again. Let’s see how long it takes this time.
Reply Not Trey thats bb3 you mean Dos bb2 right?
Awww it’s 11:17pm I was able to rewind to 7:17pm and am able to see our little chick came back!!! When did he come back? Who did the others welcome her/him? Did anyone take video?
I’m so happy we have a full nest again 🙂
Just having a really hard time sorting through posts.
8:53pm THREE BABIES?? Or is this our intruder?? DOES ANYONE KNOW?!!
8:25 – 8:30pm
5 osprey in nest
I love your NEW pic Rjoneal 😉
Doing my Pharrell “Happy” hum again! About 8:15, looked like he was trying for the perch. Not sure if he made it. Too tired to go through comments.
7-28-16 Reply- CarolV love this pic the way the sun is on bb!
Okay, I am totally confused. Was that #1 that just fledged and was able to fly back immediately, land on the perch and then hop down to the nest? She was previously sleeping with her head on #3, raised up her head like “I think I’ll go for a flight.” Then coming back and taking off again with a load of nest debris in her talons. This all started at 19:46:36 and would really appreciate some clarity if anyone can tell them apart, #3 and the third bird that came back today.
No, Dorothy, it was chick #2 going out for a spin again. Chick #1 was standing at the left front corner of the nest (toward the water). Chick #1 hasn’t fledged yet and neither has chick #3. 🙂 That’s Gracie standing near the camera with her back to us. Chick #2 is the one who had her/his head on chick #3, who’s in the right lower corner of the picture. 😀
I think the third chick should learn some landing skills. He almost completely landed on one of his siblings.
Elaine: George and Gracie are adults and they land on each other or the chicks constantly!! It’s just the way it is!! 😀
OMG – You can’t make this stuff up. 🙂
All three were fed by Gracie..
I’m sorry 7:45. 3 juvies?
Dos IS back at 5:47 pm Wed. I know its Dos because Gracie fed and the noise Dos makes when eating!!! Yeah Yeah Yeah
I mean #2, not 32.
“No room in the Inn”. Is the third chick 32?
17:47 the prodigal child returns!!! A nest of 3 again. Do not know how to get a photo.
You can use the snipping tool under accessories (tag to task bar fro convenience) or hit the PrtSysRq key and it will take a screen picture. I use IrfanView free program to paste the screen shot, crop, label and save.
B telling them about his/her adventure
I wish s/he had told us, too!! 😀
OK, I see a third youngster in the nest now and Gracie is not running it off and, to me, it looks like BB2…….is this wishful thinking or did he/she find his/her way home?
6:45pm I see adult n what looks like 3 babies. Is it our missing number 2?
19:17 pm all 5 in nest. George not shooing anyone out ! Think he’s home !
5:47 pm looks like our baby came home. No dots on chest and not too great of a landing. Still in nest at 7:40 pm. Everyone’s opinion?
Now there are five birds in nest. I guess #2 has returned
Did B find his own way or did someone find him and help him/he out?
7:15 and 5 in nest – 3 babies and mom and pop.
the babies back!~!!!
5:47 pm looks like 2 landed in nest….hope it’s not the intruder juvenile….need verification …who is out there??
Welcome Home Number 2. You Have Been Missed 🙂
I see three babies ~!!!!!!
7-27-16 ATTENTION OSPREY BABY 2 IS HOME YES HOM ON THE NEST-
I guess changing my picture brought us all good luck since I had to be the one with bad new yesterday I hope I get to be the one to give good news today!
always nice when dad hangs out for a while too
Jo: Nice picture!!
Three kids, or did someone invite a friend over?
Okay, we now have three happy chicks in the nest without any chaos. Is #2 back or have they just accepted her replacement. Very confusing!
WELCOME BABY B….I HAD SUCH FAITH HE/SHE WOULD COME HOME YEA!!!!!!!!!