Since March I have been observing an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) nest near Crystal Lake (Shasta County CA). Earlier this month I posted pictures of two osprey chicks in the nest. Because the nest is over an hour’s drive from our house, I do not observe it as often as I would like. I assumed that the two chicks deep in the huge nest would fledge between visits and I would never see them flexing their wings or sitting high in the nest.
On a whim I went to Crystal Lake one last time this season. I wanted to assure myself that indeed the juvenile osprey were gone from the nest. What a wonderful surprise! There was one young osprey in the nest!!
How do I know it is a juvenile, not a parent? Although I waited for the adults to return to the nest, they did not. Instead the parents osprey sat in a nearby “sentinel” tree calling to the youngster and occasionally circling the nest. This was a “baby” in the nest.
I do not know what happened to the second baby. Perhaps it already fledged and is on its own. Another less pleasant possibility is that a predator took the young osprey, either from the nest or when it fell onto the ground. Whatever the reason, there was only one juvenile osprey in the nest.
Even though the near-fledgling osprey is spreading its wings and appears full-grown, the parents continue to feed and protect it. At one point while I was watching, two other osprey flew toward the nest. The parents immediately began to call from their perches on the sentinel tree and then attacked the intruders before chasing them away.
At this point I will leave the osprey nest for the season. It has been exciting to watch the osprey pair court, build a nest and raise a chick to fledgling stage. What I learned about ospreys was well worth the long hours I spent watching the nest.
‘Til next season–