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History: In 2017 a pair of young Osprey took up residence on the LobstaLand platform in July/August and made a small nest. In 2018 they returned in April, stayed until August and built a large nest but never laid eggs. We call this a "house-keeping pair"- almost always a young pair learning the ropes.
In 2019, the pair returned in April to the nest and produced a clutch of 3 eggs, all under the watchful eye of the newly installed webcam. The adults were named Annie and Squam. They hatched one egg, and eventually fledged one chick - named River. River was banded before he fledged. He left the nest for good in late summer.
2020 - Annie and Squam returned to the nest in mid-April, and since then they have been tending to the nest, preparing to produce a clutch of eggs. They have been very patient as we have been back and forth to the nest site many times getting the new webcam set up.
Update April 29, 2020 - The webcam is now live. We're awaiting what this season will bring! We hope you enjoy it with us.
Update May 11, 2020 - All good news. Annie has laid 3 eggs, completing her clutch yesterday. So that would suggest the first egg might hatch around June 15. Squam has been busily catching mostly river herring these days, feeding himself and Annie a steady diet of fresh fish.
Update May 28, 2020 - Not much new to report. The incubation phase for Annie and Squam continues. Squam is still bringing in numerous fresh fish daily, mostly river herring but the occassional small striped bass as well. Once we roll into June the count down is on for hatching.
Update June 15, 2020 - All 3 eggs have hatched and Annie and Squam now have 3 small mouths/beaks to feed! It appears 2 chicks hatched on June 13 and the last one today. It will be amazing to watch them grow in the coming weeks. Names to come!!
Update June 19, 2020 - Annie, Squam and the 3 chicks are doing fine in their first week together. there was some concern that chick #3 was being left behind in the feeding
cycle, but after watching numerous feeding sessions now, Annie is a very fair provider. The slightly older and larger chicks, #1 and #2, dominate the feeding sessions early but eventually #3
gets into position and Annie makes sure that little one gets it's fill. They are still tiny, and weak and awkward, but appear healthy and well.
Email your naming ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org. One is already named Liz.
Note: On June 18, Greenbelt surveyed about 10 Osprey nests in Ipswich and Rowley and found many with chicks in them. Two previously active nests were found inactive and abandoned yesterday, again suggesting great-horned owl predation but not confirmed.
Update July 2, 2020 - The Lobstaland family is thriving and Annie and Squam are doing an impressive job keeping their 3 chicks well fed and safe. They are now over 2 weeks old and really starting to get strong and look like adolecents.
Thanks all of you who submitted suggestions for names for the 3 chicks. They were great and fun to read. It was a hard to make a decision.
If you watch the chicks regularly you can see that 2 chicks are about the same size and the third is clearly smaller. Typically the bigger siblings are more aggressive and get fed first. However, Annie is always sure to save some fish and feed the little underdog chick - who has been named Liz, after a dear friend of Greenbelt's - Liz Duff - who lost her life earlier is 2020. The other two, who hatched on the same day and just about appear to be twins - have been named Vivi and Rusty! Seemed only appropriate in these crazy times!!
Let's hope the next 3-4 weeks go well for Annie, Squam, Liz, Vivi and Rusty. When the chicks reach about 5 weeks we will add some bling to one leg - an aluminum leg band issued from the US Fish and Wildlife Swervice that they will wear for the duration of their lives.
Update July 10, 2020 - Liz, Vivi and Rusty are now about 3.5 weeks old and really growing fast. Annie and Squam are shining as parents! The chicks are starting to develop some primary feathers and actually resembling an Osprey! They are a lot more active in the nest now, standing alot, moving around and vocalizing. In another 10-14 days they will start to spread their wings literally, and building up their flight muscles. Typically chicks take their first flight between 6-8 weeks, so they have a way to go before that time. Sometime around 5-6 weeks, we will go and band these three chicks.
Update July 30, 2020 - Liz, Vivi and Rusty are now wearing some new jewelry in the form of USFWS aluminum leg bands that were placed on them yesterday (by Dave Rimmer). It was a quick and easy process and all three chicks came through with flying colors. If you zoom in on the webcam, you will notice the bands on their right legs. Vivi and Rusty are very close to flying and expect to see them lifting off the nest in the coming days. Little Liz is a bit behind them but they should all be airboarn by next week sometime.
Typically the adult female will depart the family group first, so don't be surprised if Annie takes off after the chicks fledge. Squam will remain as long as needed, which is until the 3 chicks are fully independant and are catching their own fish. Its a guess, but in another month or even less all 5 of this family group will be on their way south.
Update August 27, 2020 - First of all my apologies for the lack of updates. I drafted one last week but somehow it never was uploaded. Technology strikes back!
Since late July, Liz, Vivi and Rusty have all fledged. During August, they remained on the nest, with fish being delivered by Squam. Annie took her leave (females typically depart south first) in early August and Squam has not been sighted at the nest for at least a week. And it appears that Vivi and Rusty have left the nest in the past week or so too. As of today, we are only seeing Liz, who was the smallest of the 3 chicks (probably a male as they are smaller than females), on the nest. Some viewers have expressed concern for Liz, but Liz has been seen bring fish back to the nest confirming hunting ability. Liz is just staying longer at a familiar pace before embarking on the long and arduous migration.
Do Osprey migrate together? That is a question I hear often and the answer is: they do not. Annie and Squam go their own way and could end up far apart by the time they reach their final winter destination. However, breeding pairs bond for life and reuse the same nest if they can year after year, so they will find each other again in Gloucester next spring (we hope), and start their 3rd breeding season in a row together.
Same with Liz, Vivi and Rusty - they will each chart their own course south. However, Osprey in general follow similar migration routes, so if you were "hawk watching" at a place like Cape May, NJ or Hawk Mtn, PA, you might see dozens or even hundreds of Osprey (and other raptors) soaring by overhead going south. But it is not a flock, it is a concentration.
Liz, Vivi and Rusty have a tough road ahead, as only about 40% of first year Osprey survive through year one. And remember, these three will stay for 18 mos where ever they end up - be it Cuba, or South America. If and when they return north successfully, and we sure hope they do, it will not be until the spring of 2022, and they will be about 20 months old at that point.
There is little question that it has been an amazing experience watching Greenbelt's webcam and observing this family throughout the nesting season. Sometime this fall I will compile a summary video of still shots and videos to recap the 2020 year. For now we have have a few more days or perhaps longer to watch Liz remain on the nest. After that, we pull the plug, lug the webcam gear off the marsh, store it for the winter and start planning for 2021. To learn more about the program check here. To learn more about supporting the program check here.
Thanks for tuning in! -Dave Rimmer, Osprey Program Director
Your support helps fund and continue our Osprey Conservation effort.
Greenbelt is looking for volunteers to be monitors in our Osprey Watch program.
82 Eastern Avenue, Essex,
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.