We are sad to report that this year’s nest has apparently failed. Alan Poole, a notable expert on ospreys and their breeding behavior, attributes failed nests to a lack of parental experience among young parents, inclement weather, and/or an insufficient food supply. Other observers note that breeding pairs often construct a “frustration eyrie” following an unsuccessful nesting attempt. We have observed this behaviror during the last few weeks, with both parents bringing in new nesting material; but they will not be laying any additional eggs. We trust that you will still enjoy watching the adult ospreys in the nest until next year’s breeding season.
A power outage on Monday evening knocked out the OspreyCam. But we now appear to be back online.
After the unusual behavior observed yesterday (both parents out of the nest for most of the day, with one egg displaced to the far side of the nest), we saw this morning that Coleman and Bridgette have relined the center of the nest with grass and moved both eggs back to the middle. Another possibility is that one egg was unviable, and Bridgette laid a third egg near the other viable egg in the middle of the nest. Anyone see Bridgette move an egg?
Gwen Gorham of Covington, winner of our osprey naming contest, just alerted us to a second egg in the nest, Friday April 13 at ~4 pm. Anyone else see a second egg earlier than this? Let’s wish this newest chick all the luck in the world given its inauspicious laying date.
Sharp-eyed osprey watcher Sandra Erdle is the first to spy an egg in this year’s nest. Apparently laid this morning, Monday, April 9th.
Thanks to Gwen Gorham of Covington, in far western Virginia, for suggesting the winning names in our OspreyCam naming contest: Coleman and Bridgette. She says, “They seemed appropriate given the nest’s proximity to the Coleman Bridge.” Several others suggested the names as well.
The Coleman Bridge is a regional landmark that is adjacent to and closely associated with Gloucester Point, Yorktown, and VIMS. The bridge replaced the ferries that once operated from the Ferry Pier on what is now the VIMS campus.
We saw an unusual occurrence this morning—3 adult osprey in the nest at the same time. They seemed fairly peaceable, with no outward signs of aggression. Anyone ever see this before?
Our ospreys are exhibiting lots of pre-copulatory behavior today. Here’s a description of what we might expect over the coming days and weeks:
Copulation patterns in the osprey, based on an exceptionally complete data set, are described. Ospreys copulated frequently, on average 160 times per clutch (range: 88–338), but only 39% of copulations resulted in cloacal contact. Pairs averaged 59 successful copulations per clutch, starting 14 days before, and peaking in the few days before the start of egg laying. Copulation occurred most often in the early morning, at the same time as egg laying. Female ospreys spent almost all their time (more than 95%) at the nest and were fed there by the male. There was no association between courtship feeding and copulation, and hence no evidence that females traded copulations for food. Males maximized the time they spent at the nest with the female just prior to and during egg laying. Extra-pair courtship and copulation occurred and the results support the idea that in species with substantial paternal investment males should also invest heavily in paternity assurance. Male ospreys protect their paternity by frequent copulation and by maximizing their time with the female when she is most fertile.
—from Birkhead, T.R. and Lessells, C.M. Copulation behaviour of the osprey Pandion haliaetus. Animal Behaviour. Volume 36, Issue 6, November–December 1988, Pages 1672–1682. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0003-3472(88)80107-6
The pair of osprey featured on the VIMS OspreyCam (www.vims.edu/osprey) has returned from South America for their annual nesting and breeding season on the shores of Chesapeake Bay. You can help VIMS choose a name for each member of the pair by visiting https://forms.wm.edu/4268. You can vote from a list of suggested names that are based on local geographic and cultural features, or suggest some names of your own! The chosen names will be announced on Monday April 2nd.