Very Impressive

I find myself continually checking on the PLO nest. Do you?

It is a sunny 18 degree C day in Port Lincoln, Australia. The problem is the speed of the winds. The rate is 42 kmh or 26 mph. The water is choppy. The barge is moving a bit. Add that together with three ‘Bobbling’ Bobs and well – could you feed these three hungry Osplets moving about every which way? I am certain that I could not! Dad has even delivered the fish despite the waves and wind. I really am finding myself being totally impressed by these two adults.

After the osplets hatch, the Mom tends to stay on the nest most of the time. That said she does take breaks and, at this nest, Dad can be seen relieving her so she can have a stretch and a relaxation break. Still, his primary role is food delivery – ‘Daddy Door Dash’. Alan Poole reminds us that the number of fish deliveries doubles and triples in the first 20 days after hatch. This is the rapid growth period. It is during these first weeks that we do not want to have cold rainy weather either – it seems to both impact the fishing as well as the health of the wee babes.

Ospreys are semi-precocial. This means that they are not as developed as ducks or chickens who, after 24 hours, can walk, are covered with feathers, and feed themselves. Ducks and chickens are precocial. Songbirds, on the other hand, are born altricial –naked and require complete care. Osplets are in between. They are born with down but still need the parent to keep them warm and feed them. They cannot regulate their own temperature until they are 2 to 3 weeks old.

In terms of growth, osplets should “triple their body weight in the first 8 days after hatch and then double that again in the next 4 days” according to Poole. By the time they are a month old, if all has gone well, they will be 70-80% of their adult size.

Mom has the task of trying to make sure that each open beak gets some fish. She is ever so gentle. The pieces of fish are so tiny. It is difficult to image those small morsels in that large beak of hers meeting up with the tiny, tiny beak of a wee babe. But she does it! Instead of still pictures I thought a couple of videos would help illustrate how impressive this female Osprey is at feeding.

I have to admit that I always worry about the third hatch. In the first video both Big Bob and Medium Bob had some bites. Little Bob had his beak wide open but I didn’t see any fish go in.

In the next video, Mom makes a point of feeding Little Bob. Look at how she stretches over Big Bob to reach Little Bob’s beak. What a relief!

These Bobs are doing so well. They still have their egg tooth that they used to get out of those hard shells. And, of course, we can see that bold dark eye stripe so characteristic of these fish eagles.

One day they will resemble their parents but there is a lot of growth and development that has to take place before then. Right now they have a coat of soft light grey down. This will be replaced by a darker wool and then the osplets will enter the reptilian phase where they look more like their dinosaur relatives than birds. The rusty-gold and coppery red of the pin feathers is gorgeous.

The three osplets in the nest below – not the PLO nest but another just for illustrative purposes show a bit of the range of plumage development. There is the lighter grey down, then the emergence of the charcoal and the one on the left is entering the reptile phase.

“7-10 day old Osprey young” by Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Their flight feathers will emerge last.

There are certainly exciting days to come but, for now, I want to focus on the magic as they seemingly grow right before our eyes. The stated range of fledging dates is 55-60 days in Australia. Those days will pass very quickly. Let’s enjoy them while we can!

I do hope you enjoyed the short videos of the three Bobs at the PLO nest having a feeding today. I do find myself continually commenting on how cute they are — and they are ever so precious.

Thank you for joining me. Send your warm wishes to this nest so that Dad’s fishing ventures are successful and that all three grow healthy and fledge. That would be remarkable. I am so hopeful this year.

Thank you to the PLO Project and their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and video clips.

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