Thursday, April 8, 2010

So, Where ARE The Birds?

Lots of people have been emailing us lately wondering why there doesn't seem to be any birds on the nest when they look at the camera.

That, osprey fans, is the million dollar question facing us right now - or at least more than a few dollars question!

The bottom line is that as of right now, no osprey have taken up residence in the nest. Even though I can hear one call out as I write this from my desk, they haven't begun the rebuilding process.

And believe me, no one is more concerned about our lack of residents so far than the staff here at WHOI, who spent a lot of time, energy and yes, money, to get a new camera, website and blog up and running (sometime down the road we'll do an entry on the effort it took over the winter to make this all come together.)

Here's our best guess so far as to why there are no residents, beyond the pure fact that nature is fickle!

About two months ago, a pair of good sized red-tailed hawks started hanging out in the area, hunting small rodents in the area field grass and marshes, and they seem to have decided that this is not such a bad place to spend time! They liked to sit on a nearby radio tower used by researchers or a flag pole overlooking the softball field at the Quissett Campus of WHOI.

Eventually, they got up the courage to sit on the perch attached to the nest, and I think that's when they really decided that real estate on the Cape is prime!

Fast forward to the arrival of two osprey the last weekend of March and that's when all bets were off and what appeared to be a reenactment of the Battle of Britain began! Lots of swooping and diving, games of in-flight, well, chicken, for lack of a better description and a lot of chatter between the pairs. The osprey would seem to prevail, then come in to the nest and hopes would rise, but they would take off just as quickly as they landed:

Now, there's barely any activity at the nest at all. Yes, there are osprey in the area but none have decided to take a chance on the nest. And those red-tailed hawks are still hanging around the area - looking, to us, like the bad guys on the block!

So that's our best guess. We're hoping that an osprey will take a chance - if not for this year, in preparation for next (which we don't even want to think about!)

What do you think is the reason the osprey nest is looking lonely these days? And do you think we'll have something to look at this season or do we now have the best looking empty nest on the East Coast!


  1. Has there been any discussion about the changing of the nest being the problem instead of the hawks?

  2. Hi Mickey,

    We actually didn't change the nest at all. We built a new platform and lifted the entire thing right from the old platform to the new. We did this after consulting with Dr. Rob Bierregard at UNC-Charlotte.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Jeffrey Brodeur

  3. We had an osprey on the nest this morning. It looks like it was on the nest yesterday, sticks were moved.

  4. thanks Jeff. The nest itself looks lower in height (less in material) then years before. It must be the camera angle. Is it possible to zoom out with this cam so we might see if any Osprey are on the perch ?

  5. Jeff and crew ... Your guys/gals did a terrific job with the 2010 nest setup.
    The cam view is great! Now we just need a
    couple to set up housekeeping and have eggs :-)

  6. Could there possibly be something else going on besides the hawks? We had a pair of hawks nesting on campus a couple of years ago and it didn't bother the resident pair of osprey that year. I was wondering if one (or both?) of the original osprey pair might have been lost over the winter and the birds that came this year were a new pair - maybe not totally committed to, or willing to fight for this site (yet).

  7. There are several situations that could be the cause of the nest being unoccupied so far this season.

    The first is that both ospreys did not survive migration, but I think the female did return. I've compared many, many pics of head markings from the few nest visits this season and the nest pics from past seasons.

    I'll get the pics organized so I'll be able to post a link to them, and elaborate on my observations and thoughts, by Sunday (I hope).

    The RTHs are not an issue now. They're now nesting in the woods next to the ball field. But they were a problem earlier, more on that later as well.

  8. Just saw two birds on the nest...2:15-2:30 pm April 22. After walking near the nest and watching the hawk on air patrol, I had decided there would probably be no occupation this year at that nest. But now, I've seen birds twice in the last three days. Today one flew off, the other remained the whole time and the flier returned. Good progress!

  9. Eileen, I'm very glad to know you're watching the nest on site. Do you know where the second is located? If not, it's on the top left corner of Clark, both nests need to be observed.

    Hope to meet you.

  10. Jazzel, I am not familiar with the nest you mention, but we follow many in Falmouth. Along the Shining Sea Bikeway, there are 7 nests we have found. This includes one in a tree top near the 6.2 mile marker. It's great fun for us, but we are really amateur osprey followers.

  11. I guess there was some activity there this afternoon. I didn't see it, but someone called to say that an osprey was able to chase off the RTH. The osprey then landed on the nest, but was gone by the time I got to the window.

  12. I don't know if they will be successful this year, but they are getting pretty serious about moving into that nest!

  13. the osprey is on the nest, march 22nd 2011, 6:37 pm!

  14. Hi Tim
    Lucky you! I haven't seen an osprey yet on the nest...only sparrows and (once) a red tailed hawk.

    The branches in the nest do not look like it has been rearranged...yet.

    Hope there will be occupants soon!

  15. I've been checking in on the nest and haven't seen any osprey pair

    It is sad to see that this nest will not be the home to an osprey pair.

    Maybe next year :-) will be a successful season for WHOI

    Thank you for the excellent cam least I can occasionally see other birds that visit the nest.