For several years, I’ve been keeping an eye on an osprey nest at Lake Murray in San Diego. For most of those years, the nest was never actually used for nesting, though it was used by the resident osprey as a perch. Last year, many people claimed a single chick was raised there, but I never saw it. This year, there were definitely two healthy chicks in the nest. There are various stories about the history of the nest. I know it’s been there for many years, though the osprey themselves have been there for much longer. The way I heard it is that SDGE had to cut down a tree that had an osprey nest. The female then tried to re-build the nest on the power lines themselves, so SDGE built them a platform. I’m not sure if that’s what really happened, but that’s the story that was told me.
I’ve been watching the two babies grow up as part of the nest monitoring citizen science program that I wrote about in another Yahoo Voices article. Things seemed to be progressing well, in the beginning. Mother osprey was almost always on the nest and dad brought her the fish. Sometimes, though, dad would sit in a nearby tree and eat the fish himself while mom and babies glared at him. One baby liked to sit near the front of the nest and, as he got bigger, he was easy to see.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that both chicks were furiously flapping their wings, getting them stronger for flying. But, one chick seemed to have a wing that wouldn’t stretch out all the way. Since they were still young and getting their feathers, I didn’t think this was a problem and chalked it up to youthful un-coordination. The chick in the front of the nest was flapping so hard, one time that he almost fell out, but was able to climb back into the nest.
Last night, a local news station did a story on the osprey and showed the chick flapping desperately to get into the air. His sibling was already flying and off the nest. It appears from the video that this one is desperate to do the same. Mom and dad osprey continued to care for them. According to Project Wildlife, the local wildlife rehab facility who was interviewed in the video, they can’t do anything as long as the parents are caring for them. I know these parents live at the lake all year-round, so it’s possible that, as long as the baby manages to stay in the nest, they will probably care for him for a long time. But, he seems desperate to go off with his dad and sibling.
Hopefully, the furious exercise the young osprey is doing will help fix his problem enough so that he has some independence.
While I have written much of this based on my personal knowledge, here are some sources mentioned in the article:
News8 news clip about the osprey nest
Nest Monitoring for Science: My Experience