Cape Henlopen Sadness – a misidentification

12 June 2021

There has been some concern over the osprey that is on the nest at the Cape Henlopen State Park Osprey nest. I had believed it to be the grieving female who had lost her three chicks and her mate. Watchers begin to look carefully at the adult on the nest noting her unusual behaviour. Members of the FB group began to compare photographs of the parent adults and after receiving a note from ‘A’ and ‘E’ I went back to look at my images.

It has been determined that the osprey on the nest that I believed to be the grieving mother is NOT the grieving mother but one of the intruders.

The real mother of the three osplets on the nest was with them when she delivered five fish to her chicks. They were full to the brim. She was with them on the 10th of June. The image below is from the 10th of June. Note the light, almost non-existent necklace.

The intruder female has a huge necklace. The original Mum does not.

This is a picture of the mother and father of the three chicks in the nest.

This is the female intruder on the nest today.

This is the intruder refusing to feed the two surviving chicks on Saturday night. So to be clear and correct my past posting — the parents by the time the image below is taken are both missing. The intruders refused to feed the three chicks and, as a result, they died of starvation.

It is clear from the keen detective work by members of the FB group that both parents of the three chicks on the Cape Henlopen State Park nest are missing.

The Mum had bravely fought them off on Friday. That is a difficult thing to do without a male to assist.

Sadly this information does not change the situation – the chicks starved to death but it was not because the female did not go fishing or thought they were too ill to feed — it is because she had been ousted from the nest by the intruders taking over.

It is unclear what has happened to the parents. Perhaps we will have word shortly.

I regret adding to the confusion over what has been happening at this nest. Thank you so much for joining me. Take care everyone!

Thank you to the Cape Henlopen State Park Osprey nest streaming cam where I took my screen captures and to ‘E’ and ‘A’ for their notes with links to the photos. It is so appreciated.


  1. Akane says:

    Thank you for further elaborating!
    How sad and frustrated the mother must have been. Poor family, I can only pray that mom is ok 🙏.

    1. You are very welcome. Akane, I have now identified three intruders. One has the very prominent necklace, then that large female with the snake eyes, and another smaller one with hardly any necklace. On the FB for the group someone posted that someone on a trail near to the nest found a deceased osprey about the time dad disappeared. There is nothing to elaborate on and nothing about calling the wildlife services which should be done. Was it a natural death? a territorial fight and died of injuries? We don’t know those answers. I hope the Mum is OK. It is too bad that these intruders did not come later in the summer, Akane. It is quite sad. Looking at the footage of the chick’s ‘removal’. I think it was by accident. Its wing got caught on the talon. It is just so so sad. This nest had everything going well for it.

  2. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for this update. The female on the nest had all the indication of grieving. Maybe it was the stranger (intruder) in the nest that we saw but if it was her she was really feeling the hurt she had done to these baby osplets. Maybe the ousting of the parents didn’t bother her but the babies laying there starved to death did. I saw that.
    That is my belief and what I thought when I saw it. That is why I also thought it was the Mom.
    Have a great evening and take care!

  3. Linda Kontol says:

    Mary Ann I didn’t know
    That a deceased Osprey had been found.
    If it was Dad. May he Rest In Peace.🙏
    Prayers the Mom is somewhere and ok too🙏

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