Osprey Journal: Friday, Epilogue

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August 6, 2010

The fledging is finished. In a significant final development this week, Wynken and Blynken started sleeping upright. Like two gargoyles, they sit perched on the long thick branch near their former crib and snooze soundly through the night. So soundly, in fact, that when awakened by a two-legged beast spying on them moments before sunrise, they squawked loudly enough to wake up every sleeping creature within 20 miles.

The nest is mostly empty now. Now and then you might glimpse a courageous sparrow, perched tentatively on the edge, scoping the circular twiggy expanse. Unable to resist the great bounty laid before him, he hops in, selects a few choice twigs and makes off like a bandit. Expect to see more of this blatant behavior.

Mama O, ever busy bird that she is, has been doing lots of this and that in preparation for her migratory trip south. One of her last duties is to defend her nest against would-be squatters, thus insuring a guaranteed reservation for next years’ brood. Asked if she had any parting words, she cocked her head and replied, “Adios!”

Papa O gets to fish all day with Wynken & Blynken, who, believe you me, need all the help they can get. Then with Dr. Wittengstein, and some other boys from the fishing club, Papa O will head to the land of tango and tapas. Without getting distracted by Argentine beauties (osprey mate for life) he will find Mama right away and they will set up house for the winter.

The Spy cam’s next assignment was not, as hoped, spotting random nomads in the Sahara. Instead, after being fitted with a special oil-repellant wetsuit, the cam will undertake a covert assignment spying on an assortment of eco-criminals at BP Corporate Headquarters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Good luck webcam; spy well—for all the off-shore offspring yet to come.

Till next year!

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Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

They’re not quite dive-bombers, but close. For the next few weeks, Wynken and Blynken will hone their fishing skills and build up wing strength for the long flight to tango school. Here they are on August 2, discovering the big world beyond the nest.

[slidepress gallery=’osprey’]

A hearty thanks to the ever-generous Mr. Anonymity and his 18 megapixel camera. And, of course, to Wynken & Blynken, for so sweetly (!) cooperating.

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Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

In honor of Bynken’s first flight yesterday, I gave my loyal Spy cam fans the day off. And in case anyone subsequently noticed a big blank space for a few hours, it was because I gave myself a few hours off as well.

I used the time wisely though, snapping pics of Wynken and Blynken flying, flapping, sitting on branches, and looking amazed by the world. Mr. XP, the anonymous first-rate osprey photographer and commentator has sent in a stack of shockingly good images as well, so today I am constructing a slide show.  Ready in a day or so.

Now, in the days to come the nest will be increasingly unoccupied. Let’s face it, we couldn’t wait for Wynken and Blynken to fly, and now we’ll miss them when they’re gone. Like parents everywhere, we want to hold on and let go at the same time.

Here’s where we are: The chicks have fledged and now the humans must too—from me, Ubiquitous Webcam. This week I’m packing up my data banks. Did I mention that I’m hoping for an  assignment overseas? The Algerian desert intrigues me. Spy cams love nomads. Spotting one is the ultimate thrill. Or maybe we just love the music of the word, No-mad. Doesn’t it just sound like something you could fall in love with? Oh, the anticipation!

Till tomorrow

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Monday

Voice of the Spy webcam

The reports are rolling in. This morning a spy cam fan writes: “Just happened to be watching your osprey cam, and at 6:31 am Blynken flew off the nest for 3 minutes. I could see Wynken and Blynken flying around the river which was mirror still at this hour.”

Webcam to Blynken: High-5 baby!

Another cam fan reports: “The first chick landed, so again there were two on the nest.  A few second later the nest was completely empty with both birds in the pattern. No air traffic controller-parent to be seen.”

Webcam to Blynken: The no-fly zone is now the high-fly zone. Way to go, Brigadier B!

More excitement. This report just in: “The chicks are using the perch of the camera post like the deck of a aircraft carrier. They practice coming in and doing their full stall, short field landings, a skill they will later need for the high tree perch landing and lookout position for monitoring their future kingdoms.”

Webcam to Wynken & Blynken: And future kingdoms you shall have!

I am one hyper-ventilating webcam. Our chicks have fledged. Congratulations Mama & Papa O. In celebration, Spy cam fans may take the day off.

8/2/10, 9:12 a.m. An Empty Nest

Till tomorrow.

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Friday

Voice of Spy webcam

Dear Diary,

Spy cam fan Susan comments: “Poor Blynken. He has been trying very hard today and did fly from one side of the nest to the other. We forget that he is younger.”

Often the case with the baby in the family, he likes his life as it is. Why vacate the bountiful nest, he asks?  Blynken isn’t dragging his talons, lacking umph or suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome; as Susan reminds us, he’s just the baby. Home is his heaven. Nonetheless, the baby is 61 days old and overripe for fledging. Will today be the day?

I am webcam. I declare it.

Just look at these melancholy pictures from yesterday. Lonely Blynken, longing Blynken. Fear of being left behind will drive him from the nest. What do you say, for Blynken, first flight by Friday, July 30 at 19:00?

"Where is everyone?"

Till Monday

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Thursday

Voice of Mama O

If you’re wondering how I feel about Dr. Wittgenstein’s diagnoses of ADD for Wynken and OFF for Blynken; well, I am still laughing. Noted osprey expert my talon! Papa O and Wittgenstein have been fishing buddies for years, and that is why he is our ospreyatician. Can you humans understand such reasoning? I didn’t think so.

As for Wittgenstein’s treatment plan, we shall have to wait.  He was called over the bridge last night due to many osprey nests being clobbered by the storm. Blasted right off their platforms. Chicks that couldn’t lie low enough in the nest were blown off. Luckily, most chicks are flying. One nest that got an inexplicably late start was spotted floating in the Patuxent. And just as it was about to go under a pair of humans nabbed it, rescuing three, 6-week old chicks.

They took the babes to Patuxent River Park. After dark, officials surreptitiously slipped the shivering “orphans” into nests with other young osprey. (Ha, ha, ha, as if such stealth were necessary.) Let’s hope for the best, said the officials. Later, they were astounded that the new parents were caring for the chicks.  Now, I am a busy bird with lots to do, but I will tell you this, in the world of osprey, there is no such thing as an orphan.

Good day!

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Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is defined as “difficulty attending or focusing on a specific task.” That’s how Dr. Wittengstein explained it to Papa O last night. According to Wittgenstein, Wynken has a “failure to focus on flying.” (Papa is a bit beside himself, as the  other chicks in the neighborhood are gliding through the skies.) What is the cure? Wittgenstein is coming back tonight with his treatment plan. God help us. As for Blynken, he may have the opposite condition, Over Focus Fixation (OFF), as all his attention is poured into creating the perfect impersonation of a sloth.

Below is a picture of Papa’s favorite perch. Look to the upper right, where the branch is sticking out into the sky, and you’ll see him sitting at the ready. This is where he spends most of his time. From here he can see all possible threats to the nest. And yesterday there was a great big blue one. A heron flew too close to the nest (Mama O was out) and scoped Wynken and Blynken who were (what else?) sleeping. Papa O shot over like a rocket, and after some fancy flying acrobatics, he nipped at the heron’s neck, forced him into the river and threatened him with waterboarding. W&B did not wake up, but at least they were safe.

Point Lookout for Papa

Till tomorrow

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Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

As promised loyal cam fans, here are photos from Wynken’s maiden flight on Sunday. Check out those talons! Many thanks to our excellent human photographer, the intrepid Mr. XP, who will be providing us in the coming days with even more first-hand photos.

Also, here is the latest report from my news feed regarding today’s flight attempts: A slight breeze out of the northeast limited flying attempts today. Instead, the chicks were extremely interested in fish jumping around the base of the pole.

Hmm . .  might we be moving on to fishing lessons 101?

Wynken takes off!

A smooth first landing

Whoa!

What a wing span he has.

Watch this Blynken, 'cause you're next!

WYNKEN FLIES!

Monday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary,

We have lift off! Yesterday, July 25, after the storm brought in a blast of cooler air, Wynken took to the skies. Luckily, a neighboring human, equipped with a camera, was right there and photographed the whole wonderful event. The photos will be delivered to Chestertown Spy Headquarters today, and will then be posted online with dispatch.

In the meantime, cancel your plans, call in sick, and abandon all hopes for productivity. Flight school is officially in session.

Tap tap and a tango!

Till tomorrow

x

Friday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Jennifer asks: “Is it just me, or does it seem that the stick/twig ‘fence’ that was bordering the edge of the nest opposite the spycam is no longer there? Boy, Mama O is really trying to get the babes to fly the coop. No more fence to guard the edge from an accidental fall.”

Dear Jennifer,

What an astute observation! I’ve long thought we webcams should be made with two eyes; now I’m going to insist on it. I’ve been keeping my cyclops orb aimed on the birds, but now that I look around I can see how much the nest edge has transformed. Looking back at earlier photos, the edge is definitely more heavily fortified. Mid-afternoon yesterday, the nest looked like a runway cleared for take-off, but by 8:00 p.m. last night, Mama O had put up the sidebars and Blynkie was using a twig for a pillow.

The nest seems flatter. Or, is it that the birds are bigger? Well, we may not know what they’re doing, but they certainly do.

For anyone contemplating osprey cam withdrawal, this site is sure to satisfy:  http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/bierregaard/osprey_maps.htm Here you’ll find enough osprey news to keep you unproductively occupied for hours— including global maps showing individual birds’ migrations.

Quoting from the site, from a 2009 mapping: “This year’s cohort of adults and juveniles presents a perfect synopsis of all our research. Adults take the safest routes, minimizing over-water trips, while juveniles do crazy things, like crossing 1,300 miles of open Atlantic in one non-stop flight, disperse in all sorts of strange directions before migrating, and miss the shortcut from Hispaniola to South America.”

Great Scott! W & B, whatever crazy things you may do, don’t miss the shortcut. The first week of tango class is muy importante.

Till Monday, unless we have (wynk, blynk) breaking news to report.

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Thursday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Mary Miller asks: When the little darlings “fledge” do they continue to come back to the nest until they pack their castanets and fly south?

Dear Mary,

Thanks for this intriguing question. I had a little too much electricity last night and frankly don’t trust my data banks this morning, so I have consulted our resident bird watching expert, Melanie Lynch.

Melanie said, “Mom will leave a few weeks before Dad; she normally leaves 2-3 weeks after they fledge. Pops sticks around for another 2-3 weeks after that, teaching them how to fish.  Then he gets the urge to get up and go by the beginning of September and abruptly abandons the chicks who will sit in the nest, very bewildered, and alternately fish for themselves and beg for fish from any passing/migrating osprey until they figure it’s time to hit the trail themselves by mid September.”

Isn’t it mind-boggingly amazing that Wynken & Blynken will hit the trail solo and know where to go?

Wynken at 7:34 p.m. on July 21

Last night at 7:34 p.m., Wynken was inches from airborne.  For a half-hour he had been flapping his wings and jumping up and down. Jumping vigorously! Mama O had left the nest and Blynken was sticking to the edge, allowing his sib plenty of room. Wynken was giving it his all, apparently trying to coordinate a jump with a flap. But the effort (and a major one it was) exhausted him. He collapsed at 7:45 p.m., and then panted himself to sleep.

Till tomorrow

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Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

At Mama O’s request, Dr. Wittengstein stopped by last night. The storm had passed, and Wynken & Blynken were lying on their backs, bellies full, gazing up at the murky sky. They ignored their vet, and for the most part he declined to disturb them. Instead, he and Mama O discussed various techniques for emptying the nest. As with most medical professionals, Dr. Wittengstein was full of useful ideas.

“Invite an ocelot to the nest,” he said.

“What? I’d have to fly to South America to get one,” said Mama.

“Ah! That’s it. Speak to them only in Spanish,” he said.

“They will learn by immersion, if we ever get there.”

“Construct a small plank. Put a bite of fish liver at the end. Poke them along with a twig. When they reach the end of the plank, it will fall into the water and they will fly,” said Wittengstein.

A sudden flurry of flapping alerted Mama and her visitor.

“Look! It’s Wynk. He’s standing. I think he’s going to fly!” said Mama O. She was so excited she started tapping her tango talons in a little cambio de frente.

But after a lot of ho-ha, it was only indigestion. Wynken burped, rolled over and was soon snoring.

Wittengstein shook his head.

“Maybe tomorrow,” said Mama.

Till tomorrow.

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Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

RECIPE

Coddled Osprey Chicks

Preheat air temperature to 95°  (For best results set humidity to within a few degrees of air temp.)

Ingredients

2    53-day old osprey chicks with no inclinations to fly

1    worn out Mama O

1   confounded Papa O

5   daily deliveries fresh fish, heads removed

1   webcam coddler

1  well-maintained nest with river views

dash hay

twigs to taste

Combine chicks and mama bird in nest. Marinate in narcissism by aiming webcam on chicks  24/7.  For slightly lazier and more narcissitic chicks,  find an out-of-work writer to say something, anything, about them everyday. Meanwhile, saturate birds in blistering heat until lethargic. As fledging time nears, increase meal deliveries and wing shading. NOTE: mother bird should start to appear somewhat emaciated. As Fall approaches, decorate nest with icons of martyred Saints. Before river ices, remove osprey coddler cam from water using crab tongs or pitchfork. Fire the writer. Wave bye-bye to Mama and Papa O as they fly off to Buenos Aires. Using a warmed lifting ring, carefully remove  chicks from nest and set aside. Line the nest with a satin-covered down comforter and return chicks, taking care not to upset them. Take their dinner order. Serve at once.

Till tomorrow

Monday

Voice of Papa O

Wynken and Blynken, you are cleared for take off.

Ok nuggets, kick the tires, light the fires, select Zone 5, tag the bogey but don’t get in a furball. Don’t boresight, check six, bingo to Mama O — Got it?

10, 9, 8, . . .

Till tomorrow?


Voice of the Spy webcam

A reader asks —

Dear Spy webcam: My $64,000 question is how have the chicks been getting water since birth? Awfully hot days, lots of panting to release heat and yet not one delivery of water or even a bottle of Perrier from my observation point. Possibly in the fish they consume but I can’t believe that is enough. I have a wild guess but will hold off presenting until I confer with a real bird watcher.    —Signed, J.P.

Dear J.P.: Although I am a machine, I possess a high degree of AI (artificial intelligence)and therefore do qualify as a “real bird watcher.” Please be advised that machines like me are in training to take over the world within your lifetime. That said, I have observed the mother plunging into the Chester and quickly returning to the nest to shower her chicks with cool water. Some of this must land in their gaping mouths. However, my data banks are coming up blank, so I shall consult an expert.   —Sincerely, Spy webcam

Dear Spy webcam: I, in fact, believe the parents skim the water with their talons and lower leg feathers and bring moisture back in this fashion. I have seem this skimming of the water for years and have never been able  ascertain what they were doing. The total body plunge I have only seen in an attempt to catch fish. Although good fisherman, like every fisherman they don’t catch something every time, which is why the process is called fishing and not catching. Watching the mother shade the chicks from  the midday sun and observing all the panting during the recent heat and drought has drawn me to the conclusion which your observation supports.  Let’s see what your expert has to say.   —Signed, J.P.

Dear J.P.: My local expert is Melanie Lynch. You might call her a “real bird watcher.” She has written about osprey for Chesapeake Bay Magazine, given museum talks on osprey, and organized osprey banding trips. Melanie says: “The adults do drink on the wing, and they also cool off by dragging their talons in the water. But until chicks fledge they get all their water from the fish they eat.  Fish have roughly 70% water content so believe it or not that supplies them with all they need.”

Many, many thanks, Melanie.

So, J.P., you were sort of right and wrong. You humans, so conflicted.  Anyway, first flight is nearing, and once W&B are aloft the nest will be mostly empty. If you are puzzled about any other osprey-related behaviors, please present your queries now, as soon I will be en route to my next assignment.   —Sincerely, Spy webcam

Stay cool!



Thursday

Voice of Mama O

So you want to know what’s next for Wynk & Blynk? You humans, ha, ha, ha, always thinking ahead. But since you are so completely curious, I will tell you. But quickly, because I am a busy bird with lots to do. In late August, we fly to South America. But next year only Papa and I come back to Chestertown. Wynken & Blynken will spend the next few years learning how to tango. Then, with talons pitched to click across the dance floor of Love, they shall return to the place where they fledged to look for a mate. You know the rest of the story. Now I have feathers to sweep. Good day!

Till tomorrow

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Loch of the Lady’s fledglings from the UK will migrate to North Africa in August, but where will our osprey family go?  And why must they leave us at all? In the mid-atlantic, adult bald eagles generally don’t migrate, so why should our osprey? (Oh my, is anyone else feeling early onset separation anxiety?)  When I searched my internal data banks for an answer, I found that the main reason they migrate is diet. Osprey dive feet first to catch surface-schooling fish and those in the shallows.  That’s why the Chesapeake Bay, with its shallow waters, is a popular breeding habitat with osprey. But in the winter months, cold temperatures force fish into deeper water and thus out of reach for ospreys. If the birds stayed they would risk starvation, unlike eagles who don’t mind switching their winter diet to ducks, rabbits, Yorkies, etc.

Our ospreys’ wintering grounds are South America or Central America. Osprey that live in the Florida Keys and other warm regions don’t migrate. So, why do North American osprey go through all the hassle of coming back? (And travel these days is such a hassle, even for those flying raptor class.) Why not stay south? Well, imagine if all the college kids who flock to Key West and South Beach for spring break never left. Besides putting a number of colleges out of business, overcrowding in Florida would result. Well, more than it already has. Resources would be strained. Soon the winter-bird kids would be competing for beers, calamari and dubious apartments, and then they might start behaving worse than they already do. Ospreys are too smart to overcrowd or starve themselves. Besides, they would miss us.

Till tomorrow

Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

A few weeks ago I wrote about the 25-year old osprey in the UK who had raised 48 chicks. At the time of the newsfeed, she was thought to be just hours from death. But against all odds she has survived to see her two chicks leave the nest. According to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the first fledgling took to the skies on Sunday morning, July 11 at the Loch of the Lowes. This is where they live. You may recall that the mother is known as The Lady of the Loch. (Now there’s a book title!) Her second chick made its first flight a day later on Monday. The chicks will spend a few weeks building up wing strength before leaving for the 3,000 mile migration to West Africa at the end of August.

Speaking of building up wing strength, here’s a photo of Wynken working out yesterday afternoon. When they’re not preening, which seems an almost constant activity (remember those blood feathers) the chicks are stretching and flapping their wings. It must be exciting. Like your first bike, before you knew how to ride it. Watch closely. One good puff of wind at the right time and somebody is going to be airborne.

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Monday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

A colleague webcam has sounded its error-error-error siren. This webcam, a known busybody (worse than most) delighted in correcting a mistake I made last week when I said, “birds can fly, mammals can’t.” Whoops! How could I have forgotten the mighty bat? Bats are flying mammals—the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight. Flying squirrels, for example, glide rather than fly.

The Wright brothers, Orville & Wilbur

Anyway, on the subject of aeronautical adventure, I have taped a picture of two famous brothers of flight on my outer casing, to inspire Wynken and Blynken. The chicks’ own Kitty Hawk moment is closer than ever.

Till tomorrow

Friday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

I can’t help comparing one thing to another. My software is just built that way. This morning, for example, I was reminiscing about my last assignment—watching a litter of labrador retrievers—and I hit upon an interesting difference between the nest and a whelping box. Besides some of the obvious differences between birds and mammals: birds can fly, mammals can’t; bird don’t have teeth, mammals do; birds lay eggs (whether fertile or infertile), mammals carry their young in wombs or pouches; birds feed their young by regurgitating partially digested material, or, as we’ve observed with the ospreys, feeding fresh fish to the chicks immediately; feathers vs fur, etc., etc. But this morning as I watched the chicks and Mama O, lined up side by side, sitting calmly at the edge of the nest and gazing out at the placid river, I thought: the difference between a pile of puppies and a nest of chicks is that puppies play. Wynken & Blynken, on the other hand, are probably sitting there just growing brain cells (to run their internal GPS systems.) Anyway, can you imagine what a bit of rough-housing would do to the nest? And ‘chick overboard’ too early in the rearing would not be a good thing. Yes, Mama Nature and Mama O have it all under control. Osprey chicks don’t play but puppies can’t fly.

Till tomorrow

Thursday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

You could fry a fish on me; it’s that hot. I tell you, being a webcam made out of metal is no fun when the temps hit triple digits. (Unfortunately, taking a swim is out of the question.) Amazing Mama O is doing a commendable job keeping Wynken & Blynken shaded. Here’s a photograph I took yesterday of the the three birds riding out the heat. The chicks will fledge about 55 days after hatching—that’s only 15 days from now. Soon they’ll be nearly the size of Mama herself. Let’s hope the heat wave breaks before they’re too big to fit under her cooling wings.

Till tomorrow

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Hunkering down for safety

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Things have been slow this week with nary a boat going by in two days. So when a little Boston Whaler appeared early last night and slowed down and then stopped, the chicks were beside themselves with curiosity. The feeling was mutual. The two boys aboard the Whaler stood up to get a look inside the nest. Wynken & Blynken grew their necks a bit to better see the boys. Then Mama sounded the alarm and the chicks hunkered down on command. Like two little Jacks-in-the-box, boinggg, they shot down in the nest and became invisible to the boaters. Bob Quinn shares his photograph of the technique. Notice how well the chicks’ feathers blend in with the sticks to camaflouge them. When Mama O calls out in alarm, Wynken and Blynken instinctively know to lay low.

Till tomorrow

Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Mama’s wings are as big as they always were, and the chicks are bigger than they ever were, and it feels hotter than it ever was, yet—Mama’s feathers can still do the job. Yesterday, when the heat index was pushing 100, she stood over her brood and transformed herself into a shady umbrella.

In the heat of the day

Monday

Voice of Mama O

Blynkie isn’t feeling well. All morning he’s been lying listless. He hasn’t lifted his head off that twig; all his energy is going into panting. He’s like a pool of molten lava. Wynken, on the other hand, seems ready for whatever’s next. Well, why shouldn’t they be different; even twins aren’t the same. Time for a dip. Time to collect some cool water and mist my chick. Hold on Blynk, Mama’s coming with liquid refreshment!

On the left, listless Blynken dreams away the heat wave.

Saturday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Why couldn’t my engineers have thought to equip me with a nictitating membrane? Not to whine, but if they had studied the osprey as much as I, then surely they would have seen that every hard-working eye needs one. The nictitating membrane, or translucent third eyelid, one of  Mother Nature’s finer moments at the drawing table, was undoubtably the inspiration behind safety goggles and sunglasses. Ospreys use these third eyelids to clean their eyes and to protect them from injury while fishing or feeding their chicks. Yep, a Wynken or Blynken beak in the eye could really ruin Mama or Papa O’s day. Thanks again to Bob Quinn for providing us with this amazing close-up of an osprey’s third eyelid.

The third eyelid cleans and protects.

Thursday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Wynken and Blynken, today 33 and 32 days old, have been exercising their wings. They stand and stretch and seem to have no sense of how wide those flappers are. It’s like watching two kids stuck in a tiny closet trying to pull off their sweaters: one gets an elbow in the eye, the other a poke in the ribs. And the feathers fly. Speaking of feathers, opsrey photographer extraordinaire, Bob Quinn, is sharing some of his fantastic photographs with us. Here’s a close-up of bloodfeathers, and if you don’t know what they are, see yesterday’s diary entry. Thanks, Bob!

The feathers are encased in a sheath of keratin.

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Ever wonder what all the preening, picking and poking is about? While life goes on in the nest, I have been scanning my data banks, particularly the one called “Education Osprey” for clues to this behavior. Last night I found a subfolder called “Bloodfeathers.”  It is not an adventure film starring Mel Gibson, thank God. When feathers are first developing, they’re encased in a sheath of keratin, like our fingernails. The sheath protects them and feeds them with blood, hence the name. Once the feather has developed, the sheath falls off, or is pulled off by the bird, and the feather unfurls. If the feather tears prematurely, it can bleed a lot. I’ve found a photographer who has made amazing close-up photographs of bloodfeathers, and I’ve asked him for permission to reprint one here. Still waiting to hear. No doubt he is out in the wild somewhere, observing, preserving, getting it all down in digitals. Just like me.

Till tomorrow

Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Yes, some days I think I’d like to be an osprey, but I fear I couldn’t handle the talons. They look oversized and unwieldy, like clown shoes. Occasionally, they get stuck in things. Here’s a very funny YouTube video: see the osprey known as Bette pull the osprey known as MO8 overboard while their talons are stuck in a fish.

Till tomorrow

Monday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Never underestimate the venerable osprey. This just in, from my internal news feed:

Female Osprey Raised 48 Chicks

A wild osprey in the the UK that has lived three times longer than the average lifespan for the species, has also raised 48 osprey chicks over the course of her life. The twenty five year-old raptor is the most famous osprey in the UK, due to her astonishing resiliency. On June 18th, it was feared by observers that she was finally being overtaken by old age, and was soon to die. But several days later, it appeared she was regaining strength and could carry on. Currently, she is in Scotland. A manager at a nearby conservation center said, “Now however, we could be watching her final days on the nest as she struggles to keep going and care for her latest two chicks – part of the amazing tally of 48 chicks she has raised during her lifetime.”

That one female osprey played a great role in the revival of wild osprey in Scotland. In 1916 they had been driven to extinction. She appeared in Scotland in about 1985 when there were only about 50 breeding pair of wild osprey. Now there are about 200. The age-defying osprey actually laid her 56th egg this year in the Loch of the Lowes area. Observers have named her “Lady of the Loch.” She reappears in Scotland after regular migrations of several thousands miles from Africa.

From the “Scottish Wildlife Trust”

Till tomorrow

Friday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Papa O, a.k.a., the food wagon, has just deposited an enormous fish in the nest. As the chicks are getting bigger by the minute, the fish are getting bigger by the meal. How does Papa O consistently manage to bring home the big bacon, three, four, five times a day? Ah, another fine reason that if I were to be a fish, I’d be an osprey. Legend has it that fish are so mesmerized by the osprey that they turn belly-up in surrender. But it must be more than legend; it must be fact, as Shakespeare, who never made up anything, referenced the phenomenon in Coriolanus, Act 4, Scene 5:

I think he’ll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature.
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Till tomorrow

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Thursday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear General Store

From a passing boat we heard the weather forecast for today: “hot with highs in the upper 90s. Chance of rain 40 percent. Heat index values up to 106.” One-hundred and six? Holy fried osprey! We need supplies. Please send: 1 beach umbrella, 2 nest fans, bag of ice, tuna salads for lunch (light on the mayo), darkening shades (for naptime), coloring books, Kool-Aid, and Klondike bars. Deliver to, One Osprey Pier, Chestertown, MD.  Hurry!

Till tomorrow

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

If I could be a bird, I’d want to be an osprey. First, their chicks stick around a nice long time. Second, they get the biggest houses in the best locations. Third, everyday they eat fresh fish. Now, I am perfectly happy and content being a Spy webcam—heavens knows I love my work—but if I could spread my side panels and fly; if I could have two eyes; if I could make a sound that would echo up and down; if just for one day I could be a bird, then I’d want to be an osprey.

Till tomorrow

Tuesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Some enquiring minds have asked: how does the osprey nest maintain its cleanliness? It’s not like Mama O has a Hoover to run once a day. Meals are a mess; think of the fish scales and entrails and catfish whiskers that must be cleared from the nest-table. The very nest that the chicks never leave. Everyone knows babies basically do one of three things: eat, sleep, and eliminate. Which brings us to that rather indelicate subject. Wynken and Blynken eat a lot, a lot, and they don’t wear diapers. So, where, when, and how? Well, yesterday this spycam saw Blynken back up to the side of the nest and, whoop, poop! Forgive the shocking image, but I’m talking projectile poop, shot straight out of the nest. There. Now you know.

Monday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

I’ve been absorbing the nightly news via my recently updated telo-electro-magnetical information activation device. Have any of my colleagues from spycam school been deployed to the Gulf of Mexico, I wonder? I can’t imagine a worse assignment for a webcam than watching oil gush and wildlife die. Compared to the Chester River, where the oil in the fish takes the form of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. I can’t even imagine Wynken and Blynken covered in crude. Or a river that couldn’t support its opsprey nests with three fresh meals a day. It’s a beautiful morning here on the Chester River. Lucky.

Saturday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

The quarreling that started yesterday morning between the chicks continued all day and into the night. Wynken was the instigator. When Mama would turn her head, he would poke, prod or otherwise provoke Blynken. As night fell downy feathers spewed forth from the nest. Upon warm currents of air the silvery puffs drifted down the Chester, alerting neighboring nests to the trouble upriver. These same neighbors had been hearing sharp yeeks and nyerpts for hours. Every time they heard Mama raise her voice they knew she was breaking up yet another scuffle. The great horned owl, watching from his tree, found it so amusing that he skipped going out to dinner. Finally Mama O said, “enough,” and called for Papa. At 3:00 a.m. the weary parents began construction on a small containing cell for Wynken, to which he is now confined.

Till tomorrow

Friday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Wynken and Blynken had a spat. Mama O separated them. But whatever caused the quarrel remains a mystery.

Cooling off on opposite sides of the nest

Till tomorrow

Thursday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Last night I received a software update, and this morning I feel like a new webcam! Either my eye’s vision has greatly improved or the chicks have indeed grown to the size of cornish hens overnight. Yep, empty nest syndrome is just around the corner. Confidentially, Mama and Papa O are looking forward to resuming date night. How can I tell? Well, I’ve been watching this pair for 12 years; they practically invented the Chester River wingding (their favorite dance.) It’s utterly joyous! You’ll see. And it’s just around the corner.

Till tomorrow

Wednesday

Voice of Mama O

I didn’t sleep one wink last night.

It was raining; it was pouring;

And all night long

The chicks were snoring.

Blynkie bumped his head,

When Wynkie went to bed,

And I can barely get up this morning.


Till tomorrow




Tuesday

From afar, voice of Jean Dixon (famous astrologer)

Wynken (18 days old) & Blynken (17 days old) Born May 29, 30. Gemini, the twins

Your horoscope today: The care and feeding of you is a very specific list of requirements and one that is changing all the time. You’ll make an adjustment in this regard that will help you flourish. Your alert and cheerful mood will attract many rockfish. Bon appetit!

Till tomorrow

Monday

Voices of the chicks

Wynken: Here comes Dad!

Blyken: That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen. Dad is so strong.

Wynken: Here he comes. Come on Dad, drop it. We’re hungry! Hey, wait a minute. What the?

Blynken: Where’s he going? Hey Pop, come back.

Wynken: I don’t believe it.

Blynken: Pop has to eat, too.

Camouflouge 101: The Nest is Not Empty


Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

In SpyCam school we studied camouflouge for an entire spymester. You may not know this, but what separates a truly excellent spycam eye from an adequate one is its ability to discern camouflouge. Not to sound proud, but I excelled in this training. To this day I can still recite the definition, as we learned it: Camouflage is a method of  crypsis—avoidance of observation—that allows an otherwise visible organism or object to remain indiscernible from the surrounding environment through deception. I was repeating the definition this morning as my eye scanned the nest in search of the chicks. Masters they are!  To the untrained eye (certainly not mine), they appear as a pile of twigs and branches.

Till tomorrow

Saturday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

The race is on. Mama raises the nest wall a quarter-inch; in response, Wynken & Blynken grow a half-inch. They pull themselves along the nest bottom with their wing elbows, like soldiers inching along the ground. They want to conquer the side wall. They want to know what’s on the other side, where Papa goes. Perching perilously close to the edge, Mama mortars the wall of twigs and branches, elevating the barrier to the ample moat below. And in response, they grow. Oh, how they grow.

Friday

Voice of Mama O

Had a bad scare yesterday. I was leaning forward to pick up a twig when I felt a jolt, a sort of zzzzt surged through me and then everything went white and I blacked out. I don’t know how long I was unconscious. A pinching pain between my wings awakened me, and then another. Jab, jab, poke, poke. I opened my eyes and saw only sky. Then I heard a muffled, yeek. The chicks! I had fallen atop them.  I struggled to right myself. It took a while. Finally, I pulled myself up, wobbly but okay. The chicks looked fuzzier. Wynken seemed dazed; Blynken was typically serene.  Thank goodness Papa O wasn’t there to see it. Must have been the heat. Today, I feel even better than usual. Lots to do.

Till tomorrow

Thursday

Voices of Wynken and Blynken

Games we play: Twigs, toss a twig up in the air, catch it in your beak; Wing wrestling, loser stays sore for the whole day; War; not painful because our heads are soft; Beak Meat, see how much fish you can hold in your mouth before swallowing; Talon lock, why we never walk about the nest.

Till tomorrow

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy webcam

The third egg has disappeared. Where did it go? First, let’s clear the usual suspects: Wynken and Blynken did not, in Sisyphusan fashion, roll the egg up the side of the nest and hoist it over. Mama and Papa disposed of the egg. Here’s what happened.

Last Saturday night Mama pushed the egg down the shoot that leads to the cowbird’s kitchen below. If this were an “Upstairs, Downstairs” episode it would have been titled, “The Path of Duty.” The folks downstairs are accustomed to various piddly donations, but the motherlode that dropped down last Saturday night took them all by surprise. The terrible truth is that Nod was never more than an omelet in waiting. After the deed was done, Papa O covered the nest with fresh material. He worked all night, flying in batch after batch. While the chicks slept, Mama O picked, pushed and packed the twigs and hay, arranging everything just so. Sunday morning was as bright and clear a day as you’ve ever seen. And the osprey, now a family of four, began anew.

Till tomorrow


Tuesday

Voice of the Spy contest judge

Questions about The Third Egg beg for answers. We need resolution. We want to know why Nod is evidently not. What went wrong? For answers I consulted the renowned psychoanalyst and Chestertown recluse, Dr. Tigmund Troid. He would not meet with me in person, but he did agree to an email Q&A.

SPY:  Dr. Troid, sir, why would the third egg fail to hatch?

T.T.:  In this case failure to hatch was due to female hysteria.The the third egg was fending off memories of infantile infanticide, and why not—day after day the unborn one was subject to chilling tales of third borns being booted from the nest. A conversion disorder combined with a crippling fear of ejection was the cause of the stillegg syndrome.

SPY: So the eggshell is not soundproof?

T.T.: Correct. Additionally, to the chick inside, the eggshell is transparent. The young Nod, infatuated with his beautiful mother was jealous of his father and terrified of his brothers. Surrounded by a culture of hysteria and threat, his birth instinct transformed into a death drive. As his siblings grew bigger, he grew smaller, more timid, more reluctant to leave the safety of his shell. Finally, he was displaced back to the Source for reassignment.

SPY: Oh, Nod. Better luck next time.

T.T.: May I go now?

Till tomorrow

Monday

Voice of Papa O

Sitting here in my favorite perch, watching Mama and the chicks, and counting . . . nine, ten, eleven. Yes, eleven! Today Wynken is 11 days old, and Blynken is 10. Can’t wait to take my boys fishing. Show ’em the sweet spots. There’s nothing like the look in their eyes first time they see the river. They’ll be no holding Wynken back, but Blynk is gonna need a gentle nudge. The wind will take care of that.

Till tomorrow

Sunday

Voice of Mama O

We had a load of hay-fine, fresh twigs delivered this morning. Just in time, too; this nest was a royal mess, as you might imagine (wink, blink.) Gave the chicks their baths, chirped a few tunes, and when they fell asleep, did my nails.  Now and for a little while, I can sit back and enjoy this feeling of pure contentment. After all, it’s Sunday.

Till tomorrow

Saturday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

They’re starting to trust me. The mother has stopped standing in front of me, hiding her chicks from my eye. The father has ceased whacking me with his wings when he lands. It feels good. I’m on my way to becoming a part of the family.

But what about Nod? Here lies his egg, still intact.

Third breakfast, Saturday, June 5, 8:37 a.m.

Till tomorrow

Friday

Voice of the Spy webcam

Dear Diary

Mama O has been giving me the hairy eyeball all morning. I want to say: Listen here, sister, stop staring at me like I’m the enemy. For Pete’s sake, I’m  the security system; I’m on your side. Your Wynkie & Blynkie may be expertly camoflouged, but an owl has very big eyes. If anything untoward should happen, I—me, your friend and confidant— will retain the evidence.  Will supply on demand the evidence. Will pull together a posse as big as Kent County to bring the perpetrator to justice. So just turn your accusatory eyeball away from my lens, thank you very much.

Speaking of my lens and what it sees, Nod’s oval capsule is still in place, still intact, though perhaps sinking deeper into the moist pit of nest central. Wake up, Nod. Your birthday is awaiting.

Till tomorrow

Thursday

Voice of Mama O

7:20 a.m.

I’m cleaning up the nest from second breakfast this morning.  Two bites for me, two bites for Wynken, two bites for Blynken, except when Wynken loops his beak in front of Blynken and swoops an extra bite.

Luckily, Wynken is satisfied first, and then feeling full and drowsy loses some of his me-first-ness. Then I can tend to gentle Blynkie. Must make an extra effort for the middle child, Mama used to say.

Then there’s Nod, still nodding off. His siblings, growing bigger by the day, keep him warm while I’m away. But when he’s born, a wee one he’ll be. (A beachball for Wynken? No!) But I haven’t the time to worry—and the Land of Nod is still far, far away.

Till tomorrow

Till tomorrow

Wednesday

Voice of the Spy osprey cam

Dear Diary

It’s hotter than solder. I saw something interesting yesterday around 5:00, in the peak of the heat. Mother bird stood up, dropped off the nest and plopped into the water. She submerged herself briefly, and then, with apparent effort, lifted her drenched wings and immediately returned to the nest. Standing over the chicks with outstretched wings, she showered them with a light refreshing mist. Wynken & Blynken seemed delighted.

I wonder if this behavior also provides them with drinking water during a dry spell.

It poured hard yesterday. My lens was blurry off and on. At one point Mama O looked like she was sleeping, in that head-down, strange position she assumes at night. But she was only protecting W & B from the pings and pangs of raindrops.

Another hot one today. Watch for Mama to provide cooling mists and wing fanning. Ah, they live like royalty when they are young.

Till tomorrow


Tuesday

Voice of the contest judge

Dear Spy Readers

Thank you for a flock of funny, sweet and fantastically creative names. There wasn’t a dud in the bunch. While judging for the winner, we realized it would be a crime to let even one entry go to waste. Surely, we said, there are more than three chicks in Chestertown who need good names.  To that end we have hired Henry the Heron, from the country club pond, to recycle the runner-up names to any and all osprey nests in need.

So, without further ado, we are delighted to award a pair of Nikon binoculars to Ann Murray for her entry, “Wynken, Blynken and Nod.”

Congratulations, Ann!

Your spyglasses are now in stork transport.

A daughter! And a beauty she is. Has her mother’s beak. My eyes?

Monday

Voice of the father

I’m fishing for three now, four if I count myself. And  another one on the way. I feel a song coming on. It’s forming in my head. Kind of a country tune.

This goes out to all the little hatchlings

All over the river

This is for all the little hatchlings

Hatchlings of the river.

Whoa! Big fish. More lyrics later. Zoom . . .

Till tomorrow

“This is the most precocious chick I’ve ever seen,” said the hatchling’s father.

Sunday

Voice of the mother

No doubt this chick was born with ambition. He knows it, the town seems to know it (why else the big parade?) and surely his siblings are soon to know it, too.

All along he was a rambunctious egg, forever rolling to and fro and pushing into my tender parts. But I do believe it was the lightning flash that filled him to the brim with power. The other two slept through the great sizzle and crack that fried the eye that watches us, but not he. After that blinding flash of light, he threw off his shell like a winter coat on a hot spring day. It was an awesome sight; even his father trembled.

All right, all right. I hear you. No need to stab my toes. Newborn beaks are worse than kitten claws. Stop it, I say!

Have to run. He’s hungry.

Till tomorrow

Saturday

Voice of the Spy osprey cam

Dear Diary

Hint: if you want something to happen, just declare that nothing ever happens. That’s what I did yesterday. The result: first I was struck by lightening and then a chick hatched. Coincidence?

The chick, who will remain nameless until June 1, pecked its way into the world on May 29 between 22:35 and 5:30.  You may not see the tiny brown creature at first, but it’s there snuggled under its mother’s warm wing.

Atlantic Security technician, Dan Wagner, who repaired me after that nasty lightning bolt cooked my main artery, shot some close-ups of the first hatchling—photos are forthcoming. Additionally, Dan reported plumes of cigar smoke were billowing from the offices of Atlantic Security, typically a smoke free environment.

Now that the much awaited hatching is underway (hallelujah!) the middle chick should be making its appearance  in the next day or two. One of the benefits of having an electronic eye is that it never tires, never sleeps. I am here for the duration. Check my daily diary entry for written updates and visit the dedicated osprey cam page for continued visual coverage.

http://atlanticsecurityinc.com/video-large.htm

Till tomorrow

Friday

Voice of the Spy osprey cam

Dear Diary

Today nothing happened. Again. Even twig rearranging was minimal. Tedious is what this job is. 44 days I’ve had my eye fixed on this osprey nest.  By now I expected to be watching three chicks fight for food and plot each other’s demise.

Why did I ever sign up for this job? I should have listened to my assembler when he said there were more interesting opportunities for a webcam.  Before packing me off his last words to me were, “aim high, serial #-…-.” I took him literally. That was my first mistake.

At least the Name the Chicks contest ends today. Chicks or no chicks, someone will win the Nikon binoculars—a fine instrument assembled in the same factory of origin as I.

As is often the case, when no one is watching me, I stop watching Mr. & Mrs. Boring and turn my eye to more interesting scenarios, in this case Spy Headquarters where the spies are poring over the list of entries.  With every spy having his or her favorite three names, it’s a tense scene. That nutcase blonde has already threatened to bite her cyanide tablet if everyone doesn’t agree to agree with her.  The winner will be announced on June 1.

In the meantime, I am confident that my job is soon to become vastly more amusing. Check on the osprey webcam by clicking the link at the top of the page when you’re reading other Spy stories, or click here when you’re checking the Daily Diary Entry: http://atlanticsecurityinc.com/video-large.htm

Till tomorrow

Letters to Editor

  1. Kim Stevens says

    My names for the baby Ospreys are:
    1- Eggbert
    2- Shelly
    3- Yoke-O

  2. binnie houghton says

    I really cant imagine that anyone would think it funny, the film clip of the birds talons stuck in the fish and going overboard. Sorry.

  3. I am from Vermont and have been watching these birds for the past 6 wks. They are awesome and I want to thank you for your effort in keeping up the journal and the web cam.

    Jean Yungfleisch

  4. Kelly Castro says

    You’re welcome, Jean. I agree, the birds are awesome. Mama O is my hero.

    Enjoy!

    Kelly Castro

  5. To Kelly Castro,
    The Osprey cam has been an absolute delight. However, your “journal” has fleshed out the viewing experience with humour and further information which has enhanced it even more. I’ll never forget the “time out” barrier and the other stills you chose to further elaborate on. Now, when I paddle on the river I look at the Ospreys flying overhead and the nests with so much more of a connection than before. I feel like I know them, they are personal friends. Thank you so much for your great writing!

  6. Kelly Castro says

    Thank you, Melinda. I’m with you; I feel connected to ospreys as never before. We are so lucky to live closely to them.

    Enjoy paddling the river and osprey watching!

    Kelly Castro

  7. Is anybody worried? Every time I check into the Osprey’s nest , one young one seems lively,trying its wings etc. while the other lies like a bunch of feathers. Is it sick.? Of course there’s nothing we humans can do about it,alas.

  8. Kelly Castro says

    Dear M,
    A reliable eye witness spy reports that both chicks have been exercising their wings and appear to be in good health. But I know what you mean; sometimes one does seem a bit more enthusiastic than the other. Heat, mood swings, too full belly, a bit dehydrated….who knows? I can only imagine how great they will feel when they are soaring through the air.

    Thanks for watching
    Kelly Castro

  9. Dear Wynkin or Blynkin: There’s an Osprey chick,over on the Queen Anne’s County shore,,just your age, who was seen sitting , on a piling about 15 feet from its nest. How did it get there?

  10. Ospreyholics Anonymous says

    Priceless!!!!

  11. mary miller says

    when the little darling “fledge” do they continue to come back to the nest until they pack their castanets and fly south?

  12. mary miller says

    thankyou!!

  13. Is it just me, or does it seem that the stick/twig “fence” that was bordering the edge of the nest opposite the spycam is no longer there? Boy, Mama O is really trying to get the babes to fly the coop. No more “fence” to guard the edge from an accidental fall. I think she’s hoping someone will accidentally “fall”.

  14. Jennifer says

    Okay, one more question. Can anyone tell what that dark brown hairball looking thing is in the nest? It’s been there since yesterday and this morning the one of the chicks seems to be eating it. It doesn’t look like a fish. Do osprey eat small animals as well?

  15. Jenifer,I too wonder about that furry thing. When I tuned in this morning around 9, I saw only one young bird,leaning out over the nest trying to get up its courage. Then after wasting about ten minutes of a busy morning,a spotted wing was suddenly spread out from behind the letters at bottom of picture. It was quickly retracted. I guess I had not missed a take off.

  16. Kelly Castro says

    I’ve been out riding my bike all morning, and am now hearing reports that for a while there was only one chick in the nest! No confirmation on the furry thing.

  17. Sunday,July25th at 4:20 p.m. I saw one of our fledglings take off !!! Much spectacular wing flapping and both feet left the nest and he dissappeared for a few seconds then came right down. At 4:25 ,flew from one side of nest to the other,no more of that clumsy wading through sticks. Where’s Mama ?

  18. Kelly Castro says

    M,

    I’m so thrilled you were there to see take off! I’ve only seen photos, but they are incredible. I can’t stop smiling…..

    Kelly

  19. Jennifer says

    Yes, I saw it too. I actually got giddy! It was very exciting. My dogs looked at me funny as I squealed with delight.

  20. Kelly Castro says

    Jennifer,

    I’m so happy you saw Wynken’s launch, too! It’s amazing how deeply we feel for these little guys.

    Glad you’re enjoying the cam.

    Kelly

  21. Jennifer says

    Kelly, thanks for posting the pictures. So nice to see his take off from that perspective. Watching these two grow from egg to almost full grown has been a lot of fun. Your daily journal has brought many giggles as well as laughs out loud (maybe too loud at times). It will be quite a withdrawal once the O Family migrates. Do they have this camera every year?I hope so. I will tell you since I have been watching the osprey cam it has also led me to read the various articles of the Chestertown Spy, which in turn makes me want to visit your lovely town. (I am in Columbus Ohio) so not too far away. We also have a bird cam here. Peregrine Falcons that nest on the 41st floor of a downtown building. The young have fledged so there’s not much too watch there anymore. I’m glad the “O”s are still in town! Apologies for my very looooong comment!!!

  22. Great pics!

  23. Even at age 84, with a life already full of wonderful and amazing experiences, watching the Osprey Cam almost from the beginning has been one of the most interesting and exciting to add to my collection. Thanks to those of you who make it possible. It’s spectac! Since I live on the river, I look forward to spotting the kids when they fly by our house.

  24. Kelly Castro says

    C.G.,

    Your note has a big smile on it! Keep collecting those wonderful and amazing experiences. I hope the kids will stop by your house for lunch on their way south. But they may be running late (likely) in which case, a hearty bon voyage will do very nicely.

    Thanks for writing.

    Kelly

  25. Poor Blynken. He has been trying very hard today and did fly from one side of the nest to the other. We forget that he is younger.

  26. How does everyone tell them apart. Is there some mark that distinguishes one from the other? They look so much alike to me now. When they were little guys Wynken always looked much bigger than Blynken, but now they look the same to me. Also, are they for sure male, and how would one determine that? Thanks, just curious. I never knew I would care to know so much about these birds, but I just can’t help it. They have become like family.

  27. I’m jealous. I kept checking in on the Os every time I passed my computer Sunday. All I saw were two feathered backs hunched over , gazing at the river. Just checked in this morning and saw one flying from one side of nest to the other. How can anyone tell them apart?

  28. Thank you anonymous photographer for sharing your pictures. Thank you Kelly for posting them. What a treat to be able to see them from a completely different viewpoint. They are such beautiful birds to look at.

    Yesterday while checking out the cam, I witnessed quite the food fight in the nest. One of the chicks was alone in the nest feasting on fish when the other (Like you Mary, I still don’t know how to tell them apart…help anyone?) came in for a landing. The one eating the fish turned himself into a big umbrella shape covering the food. Then, the foodless chick kept coming over to try and take the fish away, and the fight began. It was so intriguing I had to take screen shots of the event. Ah sibling rivalry!!!

    Along the same lines as how do we tell who is who, how do we tell if they are boys or girls?

  29. Kelly Castro says

    Males are about 20% smaller than females. Blynken seems smaller and some have speculated that he is male and Wynken is female. But I’m with you, still struggling to tell them apart!

  30. Ann Murray says

    I’ll be really sad when the spy cam goes dark. I’ve been meaning to ask why the chicks look bigger than their parents. Is that because they have extra feathers to help them fly? They seem to have more white feathers than their parents.

  31. Although the chicks have fledged, they come back to the nest to eat and be fed. Their interactions now are fascinating and I like to watch them flying in, squabbling, and looking to the sky for mom or pop to bring them another yummy fish. I could see one chick take off, soar in the near background and at least mimic picking out a fish from the water. Don,t move the camera just yet. L M Brooks

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