Ospreys here and Ospreys there

I have to admit that while I have been writing about Ospreys in the Wales, at Rutland, Loch Arkaig, and yesterday Loch Lowes, a little pull of guilt has come over me. It is because I have been sitting and watching Diane and Jack’s three Osplets in their nest at St Petersburg, Florida. Tomorrow I plan to go and check the nests near to where I live around Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba for a quick far away look.

In 2014, a pair of Ospreys built a nest on top of the sign of the Achieva Credit Union in St. Petersburg. (They are not banded and no one knows how long they had been together when they made their nest.) A huge storm blew away the nest and all the eggs. The mated couple were not bothered by the move. They returned to build another nest and this time the credit union joined with the Audubon Society in building the couple a fifteen metre (or fifty foot) tall artificial nest. The nest was moved to the new platform and everyone waited for the pair to lay their eggs — and they did. The couple have occupied the nest ever since.

A contest was held to name the birds and Jack and Diane. Was this after John Cougar Mellencamp’s song of the same name? or any of the other seven songs that reference Jack and Diane? Or was it Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton? Jack Lalanne? If you know, drop me a line!

They are sooooo cute. I went to post some images on FB and discovered that no one is taking care to update that page. The last entry was early in 2020! How sad is that? So indulge me for a moment while I tell you how cute these three are! And at least one, no two, nest antics. Yesterday it was hot in St Petersburg and unlike the songbirds in my garden who drink water or eat snow for hydration, Ospreys get their ‘water’ from the fish. It was a huge relief when Jack brought in a nice fish around 5pm. All three had a nice dinner. You could almost see the wheels moving in Diane’s head as she ‘told’ Jack to brood the chicks while she had a break. I wondered if he might get a fish in that nest a little earlier Saturday morning – and guess what? He did. He brought in a fish around 10:45 and everyone went to sleep in the shade of mum.

First feeding. Check out the crop on the far left. 13 March 2021

The two oldest chicks were hatched on 3 March. Tiny Tot hatched on March 5. Besides the darker line that runs through their eyes there is a very obvious white streak that runs along their spine. We will begin to see coppery-brown feathers coming in on the head soon but pin feathers are already visible coming in. Look close these fish hawks have to grow fast. Today, they look a little like a nest of baby dinosaurs but, imagine. The two oldest are 11 days old and Tiny Tot is 9. Five to six weeks and they will be taking their first flight when they are 50-55 days old.

These three are so cute. I cannot stop looking at them.

The Osplets pant to stay cool.

Little one. You better turn around. I think Mom has that fish you are looking for. Dad is just cleaning his beak. Tiny Tot and your older sib are already in the buffet line.

They live near to where there are fish and today we should all be concerned about the fish that they eat – not only for the lead poisoning but also for the mercury as well as any remaining fishing filament or hooks.

The Osprey fish in shallow waters. They have these rough pads on their feet that help them to grasp the fish. They can also swivel one of their front toes to the back so that there are two talons in front and two in the back to help balance and hold on to the fish. This is something Bald Eagles cannot do. As a kid I used to hold my nose when I went underwater. Ospreys have a type of nostril that closes and allows them to do fast dives – feet first – to get the fish that they see. How amazing!

It is now 14 March and it is once again hot in St Petersburg, 25 degrees C. The first fish arrived at 10:25:11 and was recycled periodically until the kids had a second feeding around 1pm. Apparently, this couple is known for storing the big fish and bringing them to the nest for feedings. That is brilliant. It sure helps to keep mosquitoes away.

Diane left Jack with the kids and he decided to try and feed them around 11:23. Not quite as good as Diane but he is trying!

Thank you so very much for joining me today. Take a good look at the backs of these little Osprey in the picture above. Pin feathers are showing on the two older osplets and you can see that the hair on the back of their heads is getting dark as the second down goes away. Next week you will not recognize them!

Thank you to the Achieva Credit Union on 4th Street in St Petersburg for their streaming cam. That is where I got my images.

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