It is early February and I have been working hard to gather all the data together from the 2015 Osprey season. Every year the task grows larger as our population increases. It's always interesting to review my 200 pages of field notes, re read many of the volunteers emails, and analyze the data we have collected. I want to begin by acknowledging the volunteers who have supported and contributed to this effort to monitor all known osprey nests in the eight county metro area surrounding Minneapolis and St Paul. I can not do this alone and I am extremely grateful to the long time volunteers who have honed their observational skills over the years and the new volunteers who are just learning about these raptors we love so much. We always need help watching over all these nests so if anyone reading this wishes to become more involved and commit to watching one or more Osprey nests thru the 2016 breeding season, please contact me. (Osprey.email@example.com)
There are so many people who have been instrumental in helping Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch continue this Osprey research. Special thanks to Alice Stoddard, Barb Ankrum, Grace and Roger Pass, Faith Christine, Margaret Wurtele, Ellie Crosby, Phyllis Bofferding, Janice Dunlap, Mary Mullett, Carol Christians, Nancy Albrecht, Perry Westphal, Nikki Schiers, Jim Radford, Larry Waldhauser, Erik Gulsvig, Georgianna Smith, Dani Porter Born, Barbara Gaughan, Melinda Grahl, Margaret Hutchinson, Tom Schmelzer, Karen Akins, and Steven Steinborn, for sharing their observations, their commitment to this effort, their photos, and their love for these birds.
Thanks to all the private property owners who are such important and wonderful hosts to our Ospreys, and who have provided me access to these nests for monitoring.
Special thanks to Tom Burrrows at Aggregate Industries, Mary Lee at the National Guard, and Erick Tuckner at Bolander Construction, for all their cooperation in allowing me to monitor nests on their properties.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Photo by Nadav Cassuto
Here it is, the final few hours of 2015. I look forward and ponder what the new year will bring to Twin Cities Metro Osprey Watch. Will our oldest Osprey, B4, return and celebrate his 23rd year with us? How about our 22 year old E3? What will happen at the nest where the male spent a month in rehab with a fractured keel, and upon release his mate chased him away relentlessly? Will they both survive to return? Will she forget what happened in 2015 and renew their pair bond? So many Osprey stories to follow up on in the new breeding season. So much still to learn! Will we find someone to help us become a non profit? Will we find the financial support we need to continue this long term research project? Will we find the volunteers we need to help watch over 100 nests? Will our skilled monitors from past years return for another year of data collection? Will our population grow or level off? Will we find the help we need to place some new nest poles in the metro area? What new behaviors will we observe? So many questions, so many possibilities. Tonight, I light a candle, sip some bubbly and contemplate what's to come. I will begin gathering the 2015 data for analysis in the coming weeks, pour over what really happened and examine the numbers and compare them to past years. Spring will be here before you know it! Happy New Year to you all!
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Wishing all the osprey people out there a very Happy and peaceful Thanksgiving....may our winged friends all be safely loafing on their wintering grounds. I am thankful to all the volunteers here who watch over our Ospreys, and to all the folks out there who support my efforts by reading and "liking" this page. Many blessings to you all...
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Well, Dear readers... Now I think I must report that osprey season has ended here in the Twin Cities. My final sighting of the Dad of the rehabbed chick was last Friday. We had some northerly winds that day and I guess he took advantage of that easy ride south to depart. He hung around for a week after the last sighting of his dear chick before he decided he was no longer needed here.
I last saw the offspring of the oldest male on Sunday. She was still hollering her head off, which may have meant she knew her Dad was there, but I could not locate him. I visited that nest today and it was so very quiet. Peaceful, still. Her favorite perch in the cottonwood tree was empty. It was a little sad, to be honest. I went around the lake for another perspective and I sat for about 30 minutes, scanning all the trees with my binoculars. Listening. Watching some loons and gulls. No Ospreys. So I will stop my visits for this year unless someone reports a sighting to me. Thanks to all of the dear volunteers who have helped me to watch over this population of Ospreys. I treasure each and every one of you! And thanks to all the people who have hit the "like" button here...each time you do that, it makes me feel that I am doing something valuable. It shows support and I need that. I treasure all my fellow osprey enthusiasts, around the world, who understand how special these birds are. I don't know what the future holds for this project. It's been a tough year financially for me. The number of nests continues to grow, the behaviors are changing and I still see great value in this research, but I need more help to keep it going. I will write a post about all that sometime down the road...but now I have to turn my attention to making some money, selling some pots.
I will miss my winged friends who bring me so much joy and a very special kind of inner peace when I am watching them. I know you all understand...
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
They are not all gone yet! I kept checking on the rehabbed chick last week and saw both chick and dad on Friday....but over the weekend, I saw neither. Lo and behold on Monday I did see Dad on his lofty perch. No chick seen or heard tho.
Today I went in search of our oldest male, the 22 year old. I arrived to see and hear his one remaining chick on the nest hollering loudly for food. I could NOT find Dad for the life of me. After about an hour tho an adult came flying by, causing the chick to almost have a seizure! But the male went past the nest into a back marsh area to perch where the chick could not see him. After about 15 minutes back there he cruised past the nest again, causing another spasm of desperate food begging. He did not stop, but kept flying off over the trees. The chick waited patiently and quietly. After another 20 minutes, the chick became apoplectic again as dear old Dad came soaring in with a goldfish. He delivered it quickly...too quickly to read the band, but I could see that the color band was on the left leg, which indicated that he was a hacked bird from the reintroduction. He is the only one that is still alive. He scooted off very quickly as the chick dove into the goldfish, looking up occasionally with fish all over his beak, while still food begging. Made me laugh out loud. This old male is not perching in any of his usual perches, and is hard to find these days. I am not sure why, since he has always been a very attentive male, perching near the nest and watching over his kids for most of his life. Maybe he has a new perch that I am just not able to see, or maybe age is affecting his behavior. But he is still providing for this lingering juvenile. At any rate, here we are, on the back side of September, and I was still able to enjoy a couple of hours watching my winged friends. It's not always easy to find them, but there are still some Ospreys around town. I savor these final days, wondering each time I drive away...will this be my last visit with them?
Friday, September 11, 2015
I have been back to check on the rehabbed chick every day. For the past two days, she was not seen, tho her Dad was always sitting on his high perch, surveying his kingdom. Today again, I found only Dad, sitting up there and I watched him intently for almost an hour. He preened, looked around, scanning the horizon for his last chick, as if he had far away places in his mind. I am amazed that I can spend so much time staring at a perching osprey, noting all the details of his behavior and appearance...noticing how full or empty his crop is, the various shades of brown on his body and wing feathers, some slightly bleached out, the particular markings on the top of his head, his eye stripe and his breast markings...each osprey, so unique looking. I watch as he closes his eyes briefly for a slight snooze. Did you know they close one eye to rest the opposite side of his brain? Interesting to observe. I notice which direction he seems to look most often...probably where he last saw his chick heading. What is it about these particular birds that captivate me so deeply? I remember at the Raptor Center, when I was training their captive osprey, we called these birds, "heyoka". This is a Lakota term that refers to a special, holy person who does things backwards, a sacred clown, a contrary shaman. Ospreys are so different than other raptors, particularly in captivity...perhaps that is why I love them. They are like me. I find them completely mesmerizing. I do not like to anthropomorphize, but I can't help but be touched by this male as he balances his pull to head south and his devotion to caring for this offspring, to give her the very best chance at survival, watching over her until the last minute. It's all about survival and reproduction.
As I peacefully watched him, I suddenly heard, far off in the distance, that familiar whine of a hungry juvenile. I clapped my hands...she is still here!!!! Weeeeee here she comes, hollering all the way. She landed and I was able to confirm her identity by the silver band that The Raptor Center placed on her left leg. She kept food begging non stop for about 15 minutes, and then Dad took off to get her some lunch. I have watched them enough to know when he goes THAT direction, he usually returns with a goldfish. Any other direction and he is more likely to return with a less exotic sort of lunch. I wanted to wait for his return, but another person scared the chick off the nest and after 15 minutes of no Ospreys, I had to move on. Still, it was a happy day to see them both, knowing I will have so little time left to spend with them. One of my volunteers asked me earlier this season if I had a favorite Osprey. I often do, but it also changes every year, based upon events, circumstances and behaviors. I have to say, as the 2015 Osprey season winds down, I have fallen for this male and the rehabbed adult male that I released. Both of them have displayed such a powerful committment to caring for their offspring....that it has touched my heart deeply. Can't wait to see both of them next spring.