MNSA's Osprey Platform
As part of the education aspects, we decided to put up a mockup of an osprey platform. Since, situated south of the study area, several osprey platforms had been erected on the local marsh islands. This platform would serve as an educational aid to visitors and students on the design and importance of such a structure and the rule it played in the re-establishment of the osprey population. Due to the closeness to an active pathway we did not expect to attract a nesting pair, little did we know?
Platform completed 12/18/2001
Eventually three birds came to inspect the site, a female and two males. After several days of courtship behaviors she finally made her decision. For a few weeks after, the second male kept returning; trying to win her over, but the new couple had no patience for this interloper.
We constructed signs explaining the situation and established rule and guidelines for visitors and photographers that would reduce the stress on the birds. With a few exceptions, most of our visitors followed the guidelines.
Thanks to the efforts of Gerald S. Mersereau , we are able to tell the family history to all our curious and excited visitors, birders, and photographers, many of which have followed the family’s progress from beginning to end.
First Osprey in the New Platform (3/30/2002)
On Saturday after viewing slides from the famed photographer Pat Eagan, we went back to the office and as we looked out the window a dark mass sat in the new platform. We looked through the scope and to our amazement an Osprey was sitting in the box. A good sign for things to come.
The First Close Encounter with the Osprey (4/6)
While walking on foggy Sat. early morning patrol with Pat and Rich the first of many Osprey close ups began. As we round the south weir, heading back up the pond on the golf course side, we discuss how great it would be for the osprey to use the platform while people walk the pond trail. As we neared the crabapple bench the tell tale call of osprey filled the air. As thou a gift from God, an osprey landing in the platform, at the same moment the fog broke and a beam of sunlight shown down. Because the morning started out foggy Rich and myself left our camera back, but Pat the eternal optimist was lucky enough to snap the first close osprey shots of the season.
Osprey Take up Residence (4/18)
After weeks of courtship displays by two male over one female, she finally decided on a husband. The male was seen adding material to the nest constantly throughout the day. On 4/23 through photos and observations the first of many copulations throughout the month. This is a good sign for the future.
Osprey Platform Update
The platform continues to draw spectators to view our nesting Osprey. The Ospreys have rented the basement out to at least one to two pairs of House Sparrow. The sparrows are seen constantly adding to the bottom of the platform. Constant observations of the pair yielded the fact that the female is banded. The partial band number is 7880. We will try to find out more information on this bird.
On 5/8 the behavior of the pair changed, at least one bird stays on the nest constantly. No longer do they leave the nest unoccupied. This suggests that (an) egg(s) have been laid. Osprey incubation is approx. 28 days
June was a month of a lot of osprey activities. On 6/15 the female began a feeding behavior, suggesting a possible nestling. On 6/19, the first visual confirmation of a chick was observed, with a second on 6/21, and a third on 6/29. A full house in the MNSA Osprey Platform.
Osprey Finally Identified
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. was able to identify our nesting female osprey. With the band # finally recovered, 788-38410, we now know she is a Connecticut native. Born near Sound View and banded as a chick on June 17 1999. This confirms our theories that she is a new first time mother and nester.
News from the Bander
On 8/11, we were happily surprised to receive a letter from the bander of our Connecticut osprey. Here is what he wrote
“ Dear Mr. Farina,
Last week I received a report from the USF&W Service about an osprey that I banded in a nest on 17thJune 1999 on Great Island, Old Lyme, CT.
This time the report was a “Happy” one. Over the past 30 years of working with the Osprey here in CT, most are the other kind. [death notice]
The “How Code” on the report was #52. When checked out you were able to read the band # with a scope. How many days did you have to scope the bird to get all the #’s? That is a great way to get the #’s if conditions are right. Did the Osprey nest in your area?
Thanks for sending the report. As you know you band the bird and in most cases never hear about it again, so your efforts to read the #’s and send in a report really gave me a “High””
Gerald S. Mersereau
Tariffville, CT 06081
On 8/8 the same day of the TOH Commercial Shot, the first osprey fledged for the platform. Observed early that morning by Bob Schmits, at 9:46am, and by 8/13 all 3 osprey chicks have fledged and have been using the Study Area as their extended playground.
Our resident ospreys begin their Fall migration. On 9/3 3 juvenile birds continue to hang around with a fourth bird. On 9/5 only one juvenile bird was observed. By 9/10 the box stands abandoned with only past photos to remind us of the memories.
Osprey Take up Residence (4/2/2003)
Osprey began adding grasses to the nest and within a few hours they were copulating. Copulated again on 4/9. On Saturday 4/19 the female was showing behavior of a possible egg in the nest.
First sign of a possible chick was Friday 5/30. The female was seen feeding something deep within the nest. The same behavior was observed again 5/31
On an overcast morning, 6/13, a single chick was visible in the MNSA platform, possible 2. A few visitors claim they’ve seen two chicks, but no confirmation by 6/18.
Osprey fledging begins
On 7/17 the drawn out process of fledging the chick begins. The parent would taunt the chick with a fish and once it was interested would fly to another location calling for the chick to follow. By 7/23 the chick took its first observed flight, circling the perimeter of the pond than returning to the nest.
Osprey Head Out (8/9)
The new fledgling was last seen on the property on the 9th. Prior to that, the bird was hanging around with another fledgling, perhaps from one of the nests across the bay. Other ospreys are seen passing over for the start of the hawk migration.
Osprey Update (3/8/2004)
We received some sad news from the bander who recorded our resident female osprey. Geraldine was found shot in Bogotá, Columbia, South America early this year. This is a distance of approx. 2546 miles from NY. The band was returned to the USFWS. She was successful in passing on her genes with 3 fledglings in 2002, and a lone fledgling in 2003. She will definitely be missed and remembered in the MNSA family.
Excerpts from the letter I received:
…Your letter was on my desk and I planned to answer it this week but in the mail today was a report from the USFW stating that #0788-38410 will not be coming back this Spring. The reports states that she was found dead (shot) near Bogata, Columbia, So. America…
Again, I am very sorry (and sad) to have the bad news about #0788-38410 to pass on to you at this time. Will close with a bit of good news – a friend who watches the osprey in Old Lyme called to say he saw 2 osprey last weekend over on Great Island. This is where #0788-38410 was fledged.”
Widowed male Returns (3/24/2004)
The unaware widowed male returns home to wait for a mate that will not return.
New Osprey Pair (4/13/04)
After weeks of defending his territory, the widowed male osprey was forced off by a new pair first observed on 4/13. Throughout the month the new pair has been going through the breeding motions; copulating, nest maintenance, and fish offerings. As of the end of the month there is no evidence or behavior to believe that an egg has been laid by the new pair. On 4/17, the male was seen digging out the nest.
The new Osprey pair is adjusting well to life in a busy Study Area. On May 5th the behavior of the female changed to that of incubating eggs. The widowed male infrequently returned to the platform, either circling or sometimes landing on an outside perch, but was promptly kicked out.
MNSA Osprey Update
On 6/23 visible sign of hatched chicks were observed. On the 24th, two chick heads were confirmed and on the 29th a third head was seen wobbling about. The new pair successfully hatched 3 chick their first time here in Oceanside.
Osprey Chicks Banded 7/16
On an early morning, John Zarudsky floated in at the south bridge with an extension ladder. After a previous attempt left him short, this time a successful banding of all three chicks was achieved with the help of Bill Overton.
New Osprey Pair Success
On the week of 8/10 the MNSA three osprey chicks begin the fledging process. By the end of the week two are already flying around, with the youngest fledging on the week of the 17th.
Osprey Fledglings Begin the Trek South
September 8th was the first of the 3 day absence of our resident fledgling osprey. After the third day it is safe to say they began their migration south. Other osprey can be seen passing through the Study Area following their migration schedule.
On the 30th of March, 4:00pm on final patrol, an Osprey flies overhead toward the MNSA Platform carrying a bright orange goldfish. Once it reaches the platform it is met by another and the fish is handed off to the female. She moves from the center of the nest to one of the outer perches where she feasts on her golden treat. Meanwhile, the male does some home improvements: digging out the center, adding branches to the rim, getting it ready for a new brood.
A Second Passing
I received an email from Mike O`Leary from Tolland, CT. He have some sad news. Jerry Mersereau died April 15, 2005. He was the bander from CT that put the band on the original osprey that showed up at our platform. Jerry passed quickly-sitting in his yard enjoying a nice day. His only
relative is a brother in the D.C. area, Joseph and Mary Mersereau. Jerry became an adopted member of the MNSA family through his osprey connection. A man dedicated to bird conservation, in particular raptors and in our case a female Osprey dubbed Geri. The birding community of Connecticut has lost a valued member, and here in Oceanside, NY we share in that loss and pray these two souls meet once again in a better place...
On 4/2 a 3rd osprey made a few attempts to land on the platform but was forcefully chased away. Two additional osprey came in to circle the MNSA Platform on 4/9. With the female calling in the nest, the circling pair fly down low for a closer look before being chased by the male. Even with the chase one still lingered for a couple of minutes after before leaving. On 4/26, the female was sitting deep in the nest consistently, with the start of incubation.
We have Chicks
A quick observation of our Osprey pair at the end of the day 6/1/05 revealed a possible hatched chick. Well today the feeding behavior was seen again with the cry a hungry chick sounding from the nest with two quiet parents watching. By 6/14/05, the chicks are big enough to peek over the edge of the nest.
Late afternoon, on 7/1, John Z. and Mike Ryan came up, from HQ down in Point Lookout, to band our close to fledging chicks.
Osprey Update: Fledging
On 7/13, the long and drawn out fledging process began. The flapping, hovering, taunting with fish. On my return from an extended weekend I discovered two fledglings on the bridge railing with one still in the nest, and will stay in the nest ‘til next month.
Last Ones Out
The last bird, nicknamed the "Runt" finally took flight, joining the elite group of "Aerial Creatures" on 8/3
At the end of the month, 3/30/06, the area’s osprey are returning.
This year the MNSA Osprey started the nesting season with some unusual behaviors. Multiple Osprey appear to be in a dispute over ownership of the MNSA platform. As many as (4) birds at once landing and dodging on the site. On 4/5/06 (3) Osprey continued to fight over control of the platform. On 4/22/06 the behavior of the nesting female change to what might suggest the start of incubation. Incubation, at least in the beginning was done by both parents. After the male brought in a fish he would pass it to the sitting female. She then swapped places while she flew off with the fish to eat her meal. Since no identification markers were placed on last years adult birds, I can only go by similar behavior of the previous pair to make a guess whether or not these as the same or a new pair. So for, the difference for last year, this pair is very, very tolerant of people walking near the nest. This was not the case last year.
Osprey Still Not at Rest
A third osprey returns again to harass MNSA pair on 5/2/06. On 5/16/06, a second pair of osprey forced both MNSA birds to fly up to chase the invading pair leaving the nest vacant for a few minutes. With the nest vacant one of the invaders landed in the nest and proceeded to get comfortable. In no time at all the MNSA male dove down screaming and began to elbow the other right off, to the edge, almost falling out of the nest. The third bird made another landing in the nest on 5/19/06, with both birds in the platform.
Osprey June Update
The behavior of the MNSA family change a bit, on 6/1, with the couple standing on the edge of the platform looking in. This activity continued to 6/3. Feeding behavior was first observed on 6/8 with the introduction of a Bullhead catfish. The first Osprey chick lifted its head up on the 6/14. By the end of the day on 6/15, three heads were visible.
Osprey July Report
Banding of the three chicks took place on 7/7 by John Z. Fledgling began on 7/25 with the second following on the 7/27.
The third and final Osprey chick from the MNSA Platform took flight on 8/1/06. This last bird joins it’s two other siblings and parents as they learn to live like an Osprey.
New for 2007
The MNSA male Osprey arrived on the platform on the afternoon of 3/23. With his arrival he almost immediately began reconstruction for the nesting season. New for this year we where lucky enough to have a great addition to the platform. The Snow Craft Co, Inc; fabricated then donated a wireless cam that transmits back to the main building us a unique view of the inner workings and behavior of the ospreys inside. The request a project back in February, which would be environmentally helpful. After a little brainstorming we decided on an Osprey-Cam. The only catch it had to be completed and installed by the end of March. Days pasted then weeks, and then on the night of 3/23 I received a call informing me that they have finished the construction of the unit and that it was ready to be installed. With the male bird already in the area, the installation could not be stalled. On 3/24, late in the afternoon the installation was completed, with the male osprey flying overhead attempting to land with branches. The self-powered unit broadcasted its first signal back to the building to the TV in the fish tank room for the first time that night at 6:00pm. We thank the Snow Craft Co, Inc; and all the people involved with this generous and special gift to the MNSA and its visitors. Hopefully in the near future we will be able to have it viewable from the internet.
The camera now allows us to see the work and effort the male Osprey puts into the reconstruction of the platform and the constant change it goes through during the season. On the day of the installation the top of the platform was a flat slab of peat with grass sprouting. On our return on 3/27, the nest had a wreath of branches around it. The male was seen grabbing and bringing in marsh peat and carefully breaking pieces off and packing it into the walls like mortar. That same day the female arrived on 3/29, he switched building materials to salt hay, Spartina spp., and mud; working it into all the holes. We also observed our first Osprey fish offering behavior.
Osprey April Update
This month the pair focused on reconstruction on the platform. The rough out bowl shape from the large branches is now being finished with finer grasses and marsh peat. We can observe the male packing it in tight along the inner walls. During the rebuild they defended there territory from other osprey making close passes over head. They make their first observed copulation on the 4/6. The female laid her 1st egg on 4/25 at 10:15a, thanks to the Snow Craft Osprey-Cam. The 2nd egg was laid on 4/28. Will she lay a 3rd egg?
Osprey May Update
The 3rd Osprey egg was laid on 5/1 11:05a. This was the last egg for the family. Now we wait to see when they hatch out. We created the 1st Annual Egg Hatch Contest as a promotional and interactive event to get the public interested in the Osprey family. We are one step closer to broadcasting the Osprey-Cam. This month the office received its first official computer system from Town Hall. The computer was hooked up to the Town’s intranet, and we awaiting authorization to receive access to the internet. On the 5/24 we were visited by the Town’s IT Dept. to gather information about the camera and plan and create a means of posting it to the Town’s Website. The ball is rolling, let’s hope it doesn’t hit a snag.
Osprey Update June 2007
This was the month for hatchlings. The first egg hatched on 6/2, 2nd on 6/3, and the 3rd on 6/6. The first contest draw 19 participates and from them 7 went home with a prize. No one was able to guess all three, not even two. All the staff was able to view at least one hatching experience from the Osprey-Cam. We observed that during the hatching process, the female will assist in the separating of the egg shell from the chick and that the chicks are feed torn pieces of fish from that point on. A very interesting learning tool for all.
July Osprey Update
The Osprey family is growing up fast. On 7/13, John Zaruksky and crew came to band our three chicks. When setting up the ladder early in the morning the parents were not pleased. As I climbed the ladder both parents with the male being the most aggressive were dive-bombing me. They were close enough to hear the whistle of the wind near my ear, with a few times me ducking for cover, hardhats required. The first osprey fledged on 7/24 and on 7/31, late afternoon the fish taunting began. Both parents with different fish were sitting away from the nest on near by branches calling and teasing the last two to fly.
Osprey Update August 2007
In this month the last of the Osprey chicks take flight; the second on 8/1 and the final third on 8/3. The birds still hang around on the MNSA property, but are now not confined to the platform. The fledgling do return to the nest on occasion; when a fish is brought in, in the late afternoon to roost, and seen sitting in the platform on many mornings. As the month went on the frequency of them in or on the platform decreased to only once or twice a day…becoming more and more independent. The last sightings of the MNSA birds were on 8/21.