Tuesday Morning with the Ospreys

10 May 2022

It is a gorgeous morning with the promise of 20 degrees C. There is a blue sky and that tinge of green on the trees. By afternoon many of those leaf buds will be leaves. It is also a good day to go and check on those cute little wood ducks!

I lucked out this morning at the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey Nest. There was a fish delivery around 10:00. The nest was civil! So, I am going to make a assumption and see how far I can go back. There had to be at least one big fish, if not two, for Big to be nice and let Middle eat first.

Yes, there is a fish that is being fed to the two that comes prior to 06:35. I cannot tell you what happened when this fish arrived. Mum is feeding Middle nicely when I re-wind.

At 07:23:06, the pair are snuggled together in the centre of the big nest. It is hard to tell them apart. The hint is the plumage. Big remains darker than Middle. There is a little more juvenile plumage coming in. Big is bigger but when they are moving around on the nest, it is really difficult to determine who is who. Both are walking well now.

At 09:09, Big is self-feeding on a piece of fish left on the nest.

This is interesting. This is at least a second fish (perhaps there was an earlier one also to the first). Big has no interest in harassing Middle who is obviously hungry and up at Mum’s beak.

Big does come up for food and Middle begins to do his quick grab. There is no attempt to harm Middle, however.

It helps to have Big get caught up in eating a small piece of fish. Indeed, both of the chicks appear to have a piece of fish tail that they are trying to eat.

Mum was still feeding Middle at 10:25.

Now, I would like to rewind to what happened when I wasn’t able to access the camera so that we can appreciate what is happening this morning. I am very grateful for a very detailed report on the nest from ‘R’ who also knows the area well and was able to clarify where Dad goes fishing.

This is a broader map of the UFlorida-Gainesville campus showing several lakes. ‘R’ tells me there is no boating on most of them and limited boating on the larger lake. When I am looking at the reasons for there to be issues of food competition, the first thing I wonder about is the source for the fish. As some of you may realize, in Montana the Ospreys up near Missoula whose nests are on the Clark Fork River are having difficulties – or will – if the high temperatures and lack of snow pack and rain continue. The trout die. Here, this does not seem to be an issue. I did have to giggle. We know nothing about alligators in lakes in Canada that I am aware of – but apparently the lakes in Gainesville have gators and they do eat the odd dog when the walker gets it too close to the shore. Goodness, that would be a shock! As ‘R’ pointed out, the gators should not be a problem to the Osprey.

The nest is located on the Soccer Practice Field. That is the red indicator below. You can see that Dad has a large lake close by and further to the right another. Unless something is killing off the fish in those lakes, access is not an issue. Perhaps temperature is? It is 69 degrees F this morning in Gainesville. A respectable temperature for fishing. Does the temperature impact fish delivery if it gets up in the high 80s? Good question to find the answer.

‘R’ reports that Dad brought in little food on Friday. That evening, that big storm with the high winds that swept through the area and the nests – they were blowing on Captiva – took out the camera. There was on and off camera access Saturday but nothing steady with the camera until Sunday. It is unclear about food deliveries during this time but typically it is difficult for an Osprey to fish if it is a very bad storm. There is also an issue of barometric pressure. Easier to fish when the pressure is falling as opposed to rising. I am going to have to set up a graph and see if this is impacting Dad. ‘R’ was sadly able to report that a few years ago in another storm both of the chicks were knocked out of the nest. How tragic.

The report for Sunday and Monday were not good. As ‘R’ notes, this was probably due to a lack of fish deliveries. Bit was extremely aggressive attacking Middle constantly. Middle tried to position itself to get away from Big but this did not help. At this point Mum is favouring feeding Big over Middle.

The pattern continued to Monday morning – Big being clearly aggressive and Mum favouring Big in the feeding. It was estimated by ‘R’ that Big got ten bites to Middle’s one. Also noted was the fact that Middle went into submission easily whereas last week, Middle was showing some ability to deal with Big’s dominance.  

The factors that are leading to food competition continue to be a lack of fish delivery by Dad, weather, and at least one instance of an intruder that was seen landing on a light near the nest.

I am extremely happy that something has happened this morning to turn this aggressive behaviour around this morning. If it is possible I want to go back and build up a graph checking on the barometric pressure in Gainesville and compare it to the days we know there were good fish deliveries and little. Is this the culprit? or is it intruders? the temperature?

I want to take you to an Osprey nest where – for the past five or six years – there has been not a single problem. That is the Manton Bay nest of Blue 33 (11) and Maya. Three eggs this season. Two have now hatched. I will expect the next one to hatch tomorrow. The eldest hatched last evening and the second is still wet! You can barely see it in front of Big Bob. — A note. All of the Ospreys are Bobs in the UK. The Bob refers to the bobbing head. so it will be Big Bob, Middle Bob, etc.

That is that big fish I was talking about yesterday. The Manton Bay nest is right in the water at Rutland. There is nothing cuter than a day old Osprey chick. Nothing. OK. Maybe a Red-tail Hawk or a Peregrine Falcon.

Big Bob is already eating well.

Maya is a bit like Big Red, the Red-tail Hawk matriarch at Cornell. She wants her babies full to the brim and more. No need for a hungry wiggly baby while one is trying to dry off and get used to having hatched and the other is thinking about hatching.

Brooding and incubating. It will be much easier for Maya when the third hatches. Again, I am not expecting any issues at this nest over food competition. Blue 33 (11) always has the fish on the nest at dawn. If he doesn’t then we should start worrying about him! This is a terrific nest.

Here is the link to the streaming cam at Rutland Manton Bay:

I have not checked any other nests this morning but I will do later today. The sun is bright and it is getting warmer and it is time to do a hike around a lake to check on some ducks and geese.

Have a wonderful day everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. See you soon!

Thank you to the UFlorida-Gainesville Osprey Cam and the LRWT for their Manton Bay cam where I took my screen shots. A special thanks to ‘R’ who educated me in potential fishing sources for Dad at Gainesville and for bringing me up to speed with great detail over the weekend and Monday happenings at Gainesville.