Cape Henlopen Osprey, update

13 June 2022

The male osprey disappeared last week. The female got food – five fish for the chicks last Wednesday. On Friday, she was attacked twice in the intruders. The second time the female did not return. This is an image from that second attack. There is no confirmation on what has happened to the 20 year old father or the mother of the chicks. The three chicks died of starvation. The intruders would not feed them and, indeed, while the chicks begged food from them it is not natural for a couple to feed and raise another couple’s offspring. Sadly.

We do not know if the parents are dead, injured, or alive and not returning. I have asked and been told that it is highly unlikely that the female would abandon her chicks so that she must be injured or dead.

In the image below the chicks look on as their mother battles with the intruder.

There has been activity at the Cape Henlopen Osprey nest since I posted my blog this morning – Monday 13 June.

Early on Monday there was no one perching on the nest and the bodies of the three osplets were there.

Then two Ospreys arrive on the nest. One is the intruder female at the right. Who is the other adult? Is this her mate? She appears to be the one coming and going from the nest the most but it is highly possible that the male is close by.

I received word from ‘EJ’ that at around 08:15, the body of the chick in the middle was removed from the nest. Did it get caught on the talon and was removed from the nest but not on purpose?

I ask about the accidental removal as it appears that the tip of the wing is caught on the talon and that the body is being pulled along rather than a committed grip on the corpse.

The adult osprey that removed the body of the chick in the middle returned very quickly to the nest and began looking at the body of the youngest chick that had died on Saturday.

A little later the bodies of the two chicks are on the nest when this osprey looks at us. Note that there is not a big necklace.

This is the image of the intruder female who would not feed the chicks on Sunday. I believe this to be the adult osprey that removed the body of the chick.

This is a photography of the two parents of the three dead chicks.

The intruder adult continues to fly on and off the Henlopen Osprey nest. As I write both bodies of the other two chicks remain in the nest. It is 10:11 CDT.

Will the other bodies be removed? Who is that second osprey? is it the male partner of the intruding female? We wait.

Thank you for joining me in what has become a tragic mystery at Cape Henlopen.

Thank you to the Cape Henlopen State Park for their streaming cam where I took my screen captures.


  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Thanks Mary Ann for this update. This is indeed a mystery here. So the Mom that was grieveing must still be alive but the dad was possibly killed. The Mom cannot return now because of these intruders.
    I don’t understand their purpose for such an awful action as this towards another Osprey family 🙏
    Prayers we will understand soon what is going on there.
    Thanks Mary Ann and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Ah, it is very confusing. The female that was on the nest that I thought was the Mum grieving was actually the female intruder. A comparison of the necklaces solved that mystery – at alot of people were looking and comparing. An osprey was found on a trail deceased. Probably the male but no way to confirm. No one knows what has happened to the real mum of the chicks. I suspect she is badly injured or dead as she would have protected those chicks to the death. The intruder female is on the nest trying to move the bodies of the chicks off. So sad. So very sad.

  2. Akane says:

    Thank you for the detailed update!
    Poor mom… One of the three ospreys looked like it had a scar around its throat. Could it be the mother? I am wondering if it is the mother. The intruder seemed to have taken all the chicks out of the nest. Very, very sad.

    1. Good Morning Akane, I have just gotten to my desk. EJ wrote and said that the intruder removed the last wee babe from the nest. But something has happened to the camera. It is frozen. Perhaps the park took it offline so I cannot see. I will try it again later. One of the intruder birds had bad fears to its feathers. I know Mum would have fought back for her babies. It could be her. I have only heard of the one body and I know that there have been three birds. I even thought Mum and the intruder were on the nest at the same time once but it has been very complicated to say for certain. It is so very, very sad.

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