Osprey Cam Q & A
For those who want to know more about the nesting behavior of Chesapeake Bay ospreys (incubation,
hatching, etc.) be sure to check out our Osprey page. And for teachers, be sure
to check out the Project Osprey Curriculum guide (860KB PDF file).
Also, in the space below we will try to answer some of the most frequently emailed questions:
Why does the platform look so empty when the ospreys return from migration in March?
Answer: Over the winter, the ospreys weren't at the Refuge to maintain the nest, so many of their original sticks have
blown out or been removed by other birds (eagles, vultures, etc.). It never takes the ospreys long to fill it again --
this also ensures that the material is fresh at the start.
Why do the ospreys like the platform?
Answer: The ospreys like the platform for several reasons. One important factor is that it's higher than
anything around it. Ospreys often prefer to be in the highest structure in the general area, and this platform
gives them an unobstructed view around their home.
And although the platform is on land (many osprey platforms are in the water), this nest is very high off the
ground, so they're safe from land predators like raccoons.
Finally, in front of the platform (the side you cannot see on the cam) is the Blackwater River, which is where the osprey family will do a lot of its fishing -- so food is just outside the front door.
Is this the same osprey couple as last year?
Answer: We're not sure if it's the same couple. We normally look at the female's necklace -- the brown coloring on
her chest -- to see if the female looks similar to the female from the previous season. Ospreys do mate for life and are very loyal to their nest sites,
so an osprey pair will usually return to their previous nest, assuming that both survived migration.
Where do the ospreys spend the winter?
Answer: The ospreys migrate south in late August and early September because fish are hard to find at Blackwater
during the winter, and ospreys are dedicated fish eaters. The family migrates separately with the mother leaving first,
followed by the father, than the siblings. They all go to different places in the south, but we suspect most of them
end up in South America based on research performed on migrating ospreys from the Mid-Atlantic states. Now that the
ospreys are back,
they will spend all spring and summer at Blackwater, then migrate again around late August or early September.
Unlike the ospreys, the eagles at Blackwater stay throughout the winter because they are not reliant on
fish and can eat ducks and small mammals instead.
Where do the ospreys go at night?
Answer: The ospreys seem to prefer to sleep or roost in nearby trees,
much like the eagles. In the past, we've seen both sexes sleep away from the platform,
but we have noticed that our female osprey seems to like spending the occasional night
roosting on the edge of the platform, especially as she's getting close to egg-laying time.
Is there a light shining on the ospreys at night?
Answer: The Osprey Cam uses infrared technology (like the military uses) to provide "night vision," so
there is no light shining on the ospreys in the evening -- it just looks that way.
Will the fledglings from previous years return this spring?
Answer: Osprey fledglings do not return from the south until they are 2-3 years old. Once they have matured,
they will return north, most likely to the area where they were born.
Thanks to all our cam watchers who are following the Osprey Cam and sending in their photos and
Lisa - webmaster
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