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The webcam was installed here in 2018 and has been operated each year since then. It is a solar powered system that streams wirelessly to Lobstaland Restaurant. The webcam operates from 6am to 6pm daily due to limited battery longevity. If the webcam is not livestreaming, most likely it is because there have been consecutive cloudy days and the batteries have not recharged. All we can do is wait for sunshine.
Below you will find periodic updates on activity and observations. For more information about Osprey, browse other Greenbelt Osprey Program webpages on the menu to the left.
Update #21, August 28, 2023 – Yesterday morning may mark the official end to Osprey activity on the nest at Lobstaland. That was the last time the final fledgling – Atty – was seen on the nest. Presumably Atty has literally spread its wings to explore the area more fully before starting the long winding migration south. Atty was seen at least once with a live fish last week, so my assumption is that Atty has the ability to be self-sufficient. In fact, I am quite sure Atty is capable of fending for itself. What probably happened was that Squam stopped bringing in fish and that forced Atty to face the reality that feeding itself is mandatory for survival.
Atty will probably stay in the area for some period of time, perhaps roosting in trees not far from the nest site. That would be consistent with what we observed with the fledglings that we placed satellite transmitters on with Dr. Rob Bierregaard in 2013 and 2014. They remained near but not on the nest for several weeks before they left the region, often roosting in a favorite nearby tree.
I was boating on the Merrimack River today and saw lots of Osprey. By now – almost September – very few Osprey remain on nests. Adults and fledglings are now living as individuals, finding their own food and will migrate independently. A month from now there might only be a few Osprey around our region, and some may be migrants from further north and not even our resident Osprey. So, enjoy them while we have them, soaring, calling and diving for fish. After that we start the countdown for the 2024 return.
2023 has been another fascinating breeding season for Annie and Squam and we look forward to next year already.
Update #20, August 21, 2023 – Many of you viewers have reached out to me in the past week, still concerned about the remaining fledgling on the nest, who I will refer to as Atty. First and foremost, food is being delivered to Atty by Squam – still! This includes at least one delivery today at about 8:45am. I have not scanned the full day’s video, but my point is that Atty is being fed and appears (to me) healthy and alert. Why isn’t Atty spending time away from the nest developing hunting skills? That is anyone’s guess – and it would be a guess at best. Atty has the benefit of thousands of years of evolution that has developed a hunting instinct directly tied to survival. At some point Squam will have to start his own migration and Atty will be forced to hunt. That could be tomorrow or next week or even longer. It will be the final chapter of the 2023 nesting season at Lobstaland. And we all want a happy ending!
Update #19, August 15, 2023 – Today is another rainy day at the Lobstaland Osprey nest, and the one remaining fledgling, call it Atty, is present. I am hearing from some of you expressing concerns about Atty and the fact that it does not appear to be receiving regular deliveries of fish from either Squam or Annie. Like many of you, I have reviewed archived video to try to determine if Atty has been feeding in recent days but that has been inconclusive. Atty looks healthy to me, and is occasionally leaving the nest and returning, so it is capable of flight.
The bottom line for Greenbelt and me is that we will not intercede in this situation. As I have communicated before, webcams give us a rare real-time look at what happens in nature. That is what makes them so special. I am very reluctant to make assumptions about what is happening. What I do know is that Atty must learn to be independent and capable of catching fish. I keep hoping Atty will spend more time away from the nest learning to hunt. That has to happen. And I still believe it will. There is some chance Squam and Annie are gone, which does not leave many alternatives for Atty – hunting is a critical survival skill it must learn!
Update #18, August 4, 2023 - Hi everyone. I was finally able to go today to Lobstaland to retreive the Osprey that was found by the road near there. I can confirm that it is a juvenile, recently fledged Osprey, and probably either Atty, Lane or Babson. It is possible it is a fledgling from another nest in the area, but unlikely. One of the fledglings is still spending time on the nest, and Squam is still bringing in fish to it. There has also been an intrudier Osprey observed - again not at all uncommon, especially this time in the season when many Osprey are dispersing and moving around.
As a reminder, fledgling Osprey face many challenges. Learning to hunt successfully may be the most important, but surviving the first southward migration is the toughest. And the first step is just navigating away from the nest site. Perhaps as few as 50% ever make it to the winter grounds. And as you may recall, those that do make it, stay there for about 18 months - they do not return next year but the following year. So that 18 month span, plus their first northward migration as almost 2 year olds, is also a big challenge, with about 30-40% surviving to return to the breeding area. Then they spend at least a year, if not 2-3, migrating back and forth before they find a mate and establish a nest site as 4-5 year olds. An even smaller percent survive to that point. As adults, their survival rate is quite high - they have run the gauntlet successfully and have keen survival skills developed.
I am sharing all of this because Osprey fledgling mortality is a reality, we just rarely know about it. It happens across their entire range in a wide variety of ways - collisions, predation, storms, starvation, etc. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with I know, but the reason we all become so attached to watching this webcam, or any webcam, is because it is the ultimate reality TV. It is all real and 99% of it is amazing, with the 1% sometimes harsher than we would like. I get attached to the Annie and Squam annual story as much as anyone - they are an awesome set of parents. Over their lifetimes, they will contribute significantly to the overall Osprey population. Some of their fledglings, and those of other successful breeding pairs, will survive to be successful parents themselves and this is why we see our local Osprey population growing.
And that is why Greenbelt does conservation work to protect land, water and wildlife! That's our mission.
Update #17, July 31, 2023 - Yesterday I got a phone call from the owner of Lobstaland Restaurant saying he had found a recently dead Osprey on the side of the road near the restaurant. It was clearly injured from impact - presumably a vehicle collision. He collected the bird and has it in his freezer for me to pick up. When I see it (tomorrow probably) I’ll be able to tell if it is a fledgling or an adult. My assumption is that it is one of the fledglings from Annie and Squam’s brood. Unfortunate but young Osprey are very susceptible to vehicle collisions (and other collisions) as they often will soar low across the ground, including roads. Sorry to have to report this. I’ll share more information when I have it.
Update #16, July 28, 2023 - Today I went out to the nest to band the 3 chicks, which I soon realized were all now fledglings. One by one they each flew off the nest - it might have been the first flight for the smallest chick. The each looked strong and flew off to the edge of the marsh and perched in a tree.
So, if you have been watching the webcam since noon today and saw an empty nest, that is the explanation. Please do not be alarmed, the fledglings will be back on the nest at some point I am sure. In fact, this afternoon at about 3pm, Annie was on the nest with part of a fish. This gives me confidence that both Annie and Squam are hunting. Time for Atty, Lane and Babson to gain some hunting skills of their own!
Update #15, July 27, 2023 - Atty, Lane and Babson continue to develop and we are starting to see some modest airlifts, especially in today's gusty winds. Tomorrow we plan to head out to the nest to band them, hoping we are not too late (they fly off).
Concern has been expressed about the lack of fish being delivered to the chicks. My July 12 post mentioned a possible issue with chick survival this season, and the lack of fish being delivered to these 3 chicks may be an indication of the problem. It is impossible to know for sure but I scanned the archive video for today and no food was delivered by Squam until about 2:00pm, and it was a modest sized flounder. It is hard to know if Annie is still around or has perhaps already left the nest, which would not be unusual (adult females generally leave first). If she has left, it is only in the past day or so. She could also be out hunting. We will continue to monitor.
Atty, Lane and Babson look healthy, so there is no intention on my part to intervene in any way. Webcams are reality TV, and we all need to be prepared to enjoy all the good they offer, and accept what else may happen. I think it will be a happy outcome for these 3 Osprey, but it is turning out to be a tough year overall up and down the Atlantic coast from what I am hearing. Osprey productivity in some areas may be below average. I will post updated information as it becomes available.
Update # 14, July 12, 2023 - Everything seems normal with the Gloucester's favorite Osprey family at Lobstaland Retstaurant. The 3 chicks – Atty, Lane and Babson – are all growing even though the runt of the group (Atty), seems to get picked on sometimes and is always last in line for each meal. That is just life in the natural world; literally survival of the fittest.
I did recently discover a few emaciated chicks and/or dead chicks in a some nests in the Rowley-Ipswich area while chick banding. I believe this reflects a lack of food being delivered by the male, possibly the result of food scarcity or challenging hunting conditions due to all the rain and runoff, making water clarity poor in rivers and the ocean. This is not something I have seen before in our region. We’ll keep a close watch as we visit more nests in the coming weeks to band chicks.
Atty, Lane and Babson are now approaching 40 days old. They are standing and moving around more and more in the nest; their primary feathers are growing daily; and they can be seen wing-flapping on occasion as they begin to develop their flight muscles. They certainly have good appetites and a good provider of fish in Squam. In 2-3 weeks, based on how they look on the webcam, we will head out to the nest and band these 3 amigos.
Update #13, June 27, 2023 - Annie and Squam and their three chicks are thriving. The little feather balls are growing daily as they enter their fourth week of life. Thanks to everyone who submitted name suggestions. They were all great – some very funny, others with different connotations that made them unique. What we have settled on (Moe, Larry and Curly were in the running) is a set of three names that all have a connection to Gloucester, which is celebrating an anniversary – “Gloucester 400+”. Given Greenbelt’s deep commitment to land and water conservation, we thought the names should be associated with Gloucester’s spectacular natural landscape.
We do not know if the chicks are female or male, so the names this year are gender-neutral:
Lane (for Lanesville), Babson (for Babson Reservoir) and Atty (for the Atlantic Ocean).
We think these are fitting tributes to the birthplace of these three Osprey chicks. It will be fun to watch Lane, Babson and Atty grow to become fledglings over the next 5-6 weeks.
Update #12, June 17, 2023 - On this wet June day, Annie is brooding her 3 chicks to keep them warm and dry. Not an easy task for sure. Squam has been busily bringing in food for the family - a lot of flounder lately but look for that to transition soon to more small striped bass and menhaden (pogies). No decision on chick names yet but many worthy and fun suggestions. Cereal characters, TV show characters, nature based ideas....all good. We will decide next week.
Around the region, Osprey nests are hatching all over the place, which is exciting. And two new nests were confirmed last week....one in a tree in Ipswich and one on a chimney of
a house in Newbury, which we were able to get to move to a platform we installed nearby. We are also learning of some nest failures - it is that time of year where things can go right or
wrong for Osprey. All in all it looks like we will observe another increase in total pairs of Osprey nesting in our region. Great news!
Update #11, June 6, 2023 - And then there were three. Yes indeed, Annie and Squam have a full clutch of 3 chicks now. Very exciting and the next 6-8 weeks are the most fun time to watch and see them interact with mom and dad and GROW! As always, we welcome naming suggestions. Just email me at the above address.
Update #10, June 5, 2023 - Right on schedule, Annie appeared to hatch egg 1 yesterday, and today 2 chicks are visible in the nest. Hopefully a 3rd to come soon. Tough weather for these tiny little guys, but she will keep them warm and dry and well fed. More updates to follow.
Update #9, May 25, 2023 - Osprey nests around the region are starting to hatch chicks and that is exciting. Annie and Squam have a predicted June 4 hatch date, so basically 10 more days. They continue to add to the nest and build the outer rim with sticks, making it higher and safer for the chicks when they are small. So keep your eyes glued to the webcam and be the first to capture a photo and report a chick! Chick rearing is certainly one of the most fun activities to observe on the webcam. Lots of good stuff ahead! Happy Memorial Day everyone!
Update #8, May 15, 2023 - All is well with Annie and Squam. They have the incubation routine down to a science. They are roughly halfway to the projected June 4 hatch date. Let's all think positive thoughts!
Around the region, Osprey activity is literally booming. A very preliminary review of active nests so far suggests about 77, a little bump up from 75 in 2022. But there is still time for young pairs to get established and I just learned of a new nest over the weekend that I need to go check out. So I expect (and hope for) an increase in 2023. Wouldn't 80 nesting pairs have a nice ring to it?
Greenbelt's community scientist volunteer nest monitors are doing such an amazing job tracking nests that I can hardly believe it. They have submitted well over 600 online reports so far in 2023. Amazing and so crucial toward understanding just how many Osprey are actively nesting and where in our region.
On the left margin toolbar on this page we have created a new direct link to Greenbelt's Osprey Nest Site Map, and that map is updated to reflect which nests are active now in May. I don't update the info on the map daily but more like monthly. It is still a fantastic resource to learn where there might be an active nest near you! Grab your binoculars and go have a look!
Update #7, May 2, 2023 - And then there were three - eggs that is! Yes Annie and Squam have once again produced a 3 egg clutch with the third egg laid on May 1. Interestingly, that is 4 days after egg #2, so we will see how the egg hatch dates line up. the first two eggs may get a jump on their sibling. This has happened before but Annie is the consummate mother, and was always sure to feed the smaller third chick after the others were stuffed and happy. It's a waiting game now, not a lot of daily action but still stay tuned here for updates. Here is Annie standing over her 3 egg clutch watching Squam fly over.
Meanwhile, around the region Greenbelt's volunteer nest monitors are crushing it - already 400+ online reports submitted and pairs on almost every same nest as 2022 plus some new ones. Too early to estimate totals for 2023, but early indications are once again encouraging!
Update #6, April 29, 2023 - Annie laid her second egg late in the day on Thursday April 27 and as of this morning still has 2 eggs.
I would predict if a 3rd egg is coming, which it should be, it will happen later today or early tomorrow. Osprey typically lay eggs every other day.
Update #5, April 25, 2023 - Annie laid her first egg today, probably very early this morning, as the egg was visible at 0559 hrs. when the camera activated for the day. This is the earliest egg she has laid to date, and 4 days earlier than 2022. We will key watch now for additional eggs, but I suspect she will have a full clutch of eggs (3-4) by the end of the week.
Some quick math suggests that the hatch date for the first egg will be on or around June 4 (40 days). In 2022, the first egg was laid April 29 and the first chick hatched June 7 (39 days). The clock is ticking.
Update #4, April 10, 2023 - All seems well with Annie and Squam. Some nest building over the weekend. The banded male does seem to have stayed around although he could reappear ay any moment.
Update #3, April 7, 2023 - Quick note.....today I observed the banded male on the nest. Some of you may have as well. This is almost certainly the same banded male who has appeared over the past 2 years and caused some disruption. Hopefully Squam and Annie will defend their nest from this intruder - again!
Update #2, April 4, 2023 - Annie and Squam survived their respective winters - where ever they may have been - and are back on the nest. That is exciting news! It appeared that Squam arrived first on March 29, then Annie followed that same day we think. Squam immediately started bringing in a few bits of nesting material, but there are still stretches with neither of them on the nest. They are very much still settling in. To my knowledge, the intruding banded male who visited the nest the past 2 years has not been seen this year - a good thing, as particularly in 2021, his presence delayed Annie's egg laying.
My expectation is that we will observe significant nest building in the next 2-3 weeks, with some courtship behavior mingled in as we get further into April. In 2022, the first egg was laid on April 30. So for now we watch and wait and hope the breeding season for Annie and Squam progresses normally.
Update #1, March 28, 2023 - Greetings to all 2023 OspreyCam viewers. The webcam went live today and we are all excited to see another breeding season unfold for Annie and Squam. They have not arrived yet although Osprey are being sited throughout the region. As a quick reminder, here is their history:
2022 - fledged 3 young
2021 - fledged 2 young
2020 - fledged 3 young
2019 - fledged 1 young
2018 - built first nest, no eggs laid
Update #19 Sep 6, 2021 - To all of you who have persistently watched the 2021 nesting season of Annie and Squam, and their 2 fledglings, Spar and Tina, thank you so much for being part of the success of the Greenbelt Osprey Program and specifically this webcam at Lobstaland Restaurant in Gloucester, MA. We looked at the analytics last week for Greenbelt's website, and the OspreyCam registered 72,000 visits. If you figure about 150 days the nest was active, that's about 480 visits a day. How many of those were yours?
All good things come to an end eventually. It would appear that the final family member of 2021 has departed the nest for points south unknown. Checking the archived photos I can access via Earthcam, our webhost, the last photo of any Osprey was at 0627 hrs Saturday 9/4. Some of you who watch more than me may have seen activity since then, but I have not. This timing in right on schedule, as I am not seeing and getting reports of any occupied nests anymore in our region.
So we wish Spar and Tina all the luck in the world as they navigate a challenging first trip south. Annie and Squam are probably well on their way to their wintering spot by now. Osprey we are seeing locally are either fledglings from somewhere local or elsewhere, or adult Osprey moving through from points to the north. Most of our local adults are long gone.
For those interested, 2021 was another fantastic year for Osprey across the region, which we define as East Boston north to Salisbury and inland. This year we observed nesting pairs in Merrimac, Haverhill and Boxford. Overall, our 25+ hardcore nest monitors submitted more than 1700 online reports and the results bear witness to a growing population. In 2021, 69 pairs were observed nesting (61 active nests with eggs; 8 housekeeping pairs with no eggs), which compares to 58 in 2020 and 49 in 2019. That's a big 2 year increase - about 40%.
Ipswich led all towns with 14 nesting pairs. We confirmed 101 fledglings and banded 41 chicks with help from DCR's Seasn Riley. We found 43 pairs nesting on man-made platforms (most installed by Greenbelt), with the rest on channel markers, utility poles, hunting blinds, and trees.
Eventually we will post a full 2021 status report on the Greenbelt website, and when we take the camera down in a few weeks, we will compile and post a summary video of the 2021 season for Annie and Squam. Greenbelt's Osprey Program and live-streamed webcam rely 100% on private donations to operate. If you are interested in supporting the program with a donation, see the "Donate" tab at the top of this page, select Osprey Program and an amount. Your support makes it all possible.
Thanks again everyone for another wonderful year for Osprey in Essex County!
Update #18 August 17, 2021 - We are now in the 5th month of Annie and Squam occupying their nest at Lobstaland. They arrived in April and here we are now witnessing the wind down of the 2021 breeding season. What an interesting year it has been! Spar and Tina are spending less and less time on the nest. They are out learning the local water and hunting during the day. At night it appears they are now roosting elsewhere - not on the nest. This is all a natural progression toward their own independance. In a matter of weeks, they will be 100% on their own to find food and shelter, and begin the long and arduous journey south to some point unknown. Maybe Cuba, or Central America or likely South America somewhere. As I have communicated before, the next few months are when these recently fledged Osprey experience a lot of mortality. They face so many challenges - first and foremost finding food. But also just steering clear of interactions with other birds and humans. They need to avoid wires and structures and vehicles and all sorts of other perils. By the time this cohort of fledglings from 2021 returns to the region in 2023 (remember they spend their first two winters on their wintering grounds), only about 40-50% will have survived. So think positive thoughts for Spar and Tina as they embark on this amazing journey they are about to begin.
One side note about the Lobstaland nest. I am noticing, and others may be too, that they seem to be an abundance of insects flying around the nest. I don't know for sure, but I believe there may be a bee nest of some species inside the nest. I found this at another nest in 2020 when we were trying to band chicks and laid the ladder against the nest, only to upset the hive and send bees swarming all around the nest. I noticed this first yesterday at the Lobstaland nest when Spar and Tina were there in the afternoon. However, the bees or wasps or whatever they are, did not seem to be bothered by, or bothering, Spar and Tina. We'll get a closer look in a few weeks when we go out to take down the camera.
Update #17 August 12, 2021 - Spar and Tina continue to grow and are leaving the nest more frequently now, presumably exploring the local area and learning to hunt. There has been a lot of unusual activity as well on the nest, with the "intruder" banded male making frequent visits to the nest, often stealing recently delivered fish. But despite causing a fair amount of commotion and eliciting some agressive responses from Annie and Squam, there does not appear to be any lasting impact from the intruders visits. There may also have been another outsider that visited the nest yesterday - possibly another fledgling from another nest. hard to say. I do not watch the webcam for extended [eriods and only get reports and screengrabs for all of you. Those are awesome and useful but not always clear enough for me to draw conclusions about what is happening.
What I will say is that we have a burgeoning Osprey population in our region, and with that come an increased level of interactions between Osprey, and between Osprey and other species. Some of those activities may be upsetting to some, but I always try to keep these individual events in perspective. Male Osprey being agressive and trying to take over a nest is a natural occurance, even if uncommon. Or outsider Osprey just "dropping in" on an active nest because they see activity and are curious is also not too surprising to me. There is going to be competition for resources between individual Osprey - both food and habitat (nest sites). That is why we need to keep monitoring the population closely and installing more platforms. The blessing and curse of webcams is they offer a "real" look at what is happening in nature. It is all part of the natural world, where living things compete every day for resources.
The 2021 breeding season is winding down for sure. Most young have fledged. Per usual, we will likely remove the webcam in early September. It has been suggested we keep the video rolling to see who might stop by and use the platform as a perch, from egrets to eagles it does get used. But we feel safer with the unpredictable fall weather to remove the equipment and store it safely at our office.
It has been another impressive year for sure and when we pull together he final data, I believe we will have seen a 10-15% increase in nesting pairs from 2020 to 2021. We are beginning to tabulate our data and will be putting out our 2021 report soon. Everything is trending in the right direction. Stay tuned!
Update #16 August 6, 2021 - All is well that ends well as the saying goes! The banded fledgling who flew off the nest yesterday after being banded, apparently spent the night standing on a rock over by Rust Ilsand, and then flew back to the nest this morning at about 7am. PHEW!
Update #15 August 5, 2021 - Today at about 330pm we banded Spar and Tina with USFWS aluminum bands onto their right legs. When we returned the second banded chick to the nest, it flew off. Probably its first flight. There is no need for concern at this point as the chick flew off strongly and confidently but we lost sight of it, so weren't sure where it landed. I fully expect it will return to the nest soon. More updates to come.
Update #14 July 29, 2021 - A very quick update to confirm that the intruding banded Osprey - probably the same male from April - is back on the nest today. An interesting dynamic and unusual I think. Annie is very passive. Squam was on the side perch for awhile then left. If you have an interesting screen grab send it to me. Hopefully this intruder won't be too disruptive.
Update #13 July 20, 2021 - All is good with Spar and Tina, who are going noticeably day to day right now. Their primary feathers are really coming on and they are beginning to look like actual Osprey! They are now 5+ weeks old. We will band them for sure in the next 2 weeks.
There has been some concern that Squam is away from the nest most of the day and perhaps there is some sort of problem. In my opinion everything is 100% fine and Squam is gone much of the day because he has two very hungry large chicks to feed plus Annie and himself. So he is likely needing to catch 3-4 fish a day, maybe more, to keep the family well fed. I am sure Annie and Squam are exhausted but they are once gain doing fantastic job raising their young.
Update #12 July 13, 2021 - Annie and Squam continue to shine as parents - raising two very healthy chicks that are now about 30 days old. Everyone survived Elsa unscathed albeit a bit soggy! You can start to see the chick's pin feathers coming in - the ones on their wings and tails will become primary feathers used in flight.
We have been thinking about names and had many excellent suggestions - thank you. We have settled on SPAR and TINA, named after the salt marsh cordgrass that covers our local salt marshes. It is hard to tell the two chicks apart, except during feeding time when Spar is more agressive and gets his/her fill before Tina does. There are no nice guys when it comes to Osprey chicks competing for food. Luckily Squam is a superb provider and there is plenty to go around for mom, dad, Spar and Tina. In the next 15-20 days Spar and Tina will really grow fast, to near full size, begin more wing flapping and get ready to fledge. At that time we will band them. Until then stay tuned as this is a really fun time to watch the webcam. Lots of activity and daily changes.
Around the region, Osprey are literally around every corner. We will without question have a higher total this year than last. Dozens of nests have chicks in them now and we are carefully calculating ages in anticipation of banding, which is done at age 5-6 weeks. All the hard work of the Osprey, Greenbelt and the nest monitors is paying off now - it is so exciting.
Update #11 June 21, 2021 - Today I can confirm that only 2 eggs hatched in the nest. Not a particular surprise to anyone that has been watching closely but at several times I could clearly see the unhatched egg in the nest with the two chicks. This happens and should not be of concern, although hatching 3 eggs is ceretainly prerable to just hatching 2. Most likely it was infertile and just never developed during incubation. I will probably go out soon and remove it.
The two chicks are now just about 6-7 days old and growing fast. They are very active in the nest, standing a lot more for longer periods and appear to be very healthy and strong. They seem almost identical in size, so I expexct them to grow at equla rates as siblings. Food should not be any issue at all as Squam is a primo provider. Starting to see more striped bass and menhaden (pogies) brought in by Squam.
There are still perils that could loom but let's hope the next 5-6 weeks bring fair weather and no unwanted intruders. I worry a bit about the Bald Eagles that are believed to be nesting not too far away but there is nothing we can do about that but worry and hope for the best. Mother Nature is in charge of that!
Update #10 June 16, 2021 - We have chicks in the nest! At least two that are clearly visible. They probably hatched on June 13 or 14. We know there were 3 eggs, so there is some hope for a 3rd chick. Time will tell. Given the nest structure, there are sticks blocking the view into the nest, so there could be a 3rd chick already. If you listen carefully, you can hear the chicks chirping from time to time. best time to see feeding is early morning and again in the later afternoon, although it can occur at any time.
Annie and Squam are doing their usual outstanding job parenting. Squam delivering the fish; Annie feeding the chicks. What a solid team. It will be fun to watch the chick grow in the coming weeks.
Across the entire county, there are nests hatching right and left. A rough count of active breeding pairs is about 65 so far in 2021; up from 58 last year. In another week or two I will start doing to chick banding. More reports on that to come.
Update #9 May 23, 2021 - Life for Annie and Squam has fallen into the "incubation" routine and this will continue for several more weeks. Annie sits on the eggs almost all the time, only taking breaks for food and bathroom! Squam is his usual stalwart self, delivery the goods in all senses of the word - food, nesting material and protection. Now that we are in the heart of the nesting season, there is a full cohort of Osprey in the area, which certainly includes a healthy number of non-breeding young adults who can be seen interacting with their breeding Osprey counterparts frequently. So if you follow the sightings that are reported by Greenbelt's volunteer community scientists (https://ecga.org/Osprey-Monitoring-Listing/search), you will read notes about breeding pairs defending their nest and territory against intruders and passerbys. This is all normal and a sign of a healthy growing Osprey population.
Speaking of a growing Osprey population, I have not tabulated exactly the number of pairs around our region yet in 2021 but new nests continue to be reported, inluding two new nesting pairs in Gloucester, one in a tree at Magnolia Woods! Very cool nest on the eastern end of the pond there, best seen by walking up the trail to the left of the upper fields and looking from near the portajohn there. This time of year I encourage any of you reading this to let me know if you think you might know of an active Osprey nest somewhere that we do not know about. How do you know if we know about a nest? You can always just shoot me an email and ask. Or you can visit the Google Map I maintain which is updated frequently and should have all know nests listed with discriptions. And pass the word to your birding friends and avian enthusiasts! Every year I hear after the season about a nest or two I was not aware of, which is great but the sooner I know the better.
I am not aware of any Osprey nests hatching chicks yet but in the next 2 weeks a few will hatch eggs. Exciting times!
Update #8 May 13, 2021 - Annie laid her third egg on May 12, which most likely completes her clutch. Sometimes Osprey will lay 4 eggs but unusual. So now she and Squam have about 35-40 days of incubation ahead of them, and the eggs will likely hatch asynchronously, over a period of days. Also typical. We should all start looking closely around the summer solstice, June 21, for the first egg to hatch.
There is still another Osprey visiting the nests and creating some commotion from time to time. It is probably the banded male from earlier but the intruder is often not seen on camera. It could also be one of the nearby nesting eagles but let's hope not. Over at GLO-04 on the Annisquam River, where the female was killed, there has been a lot of activity, including a new pair taking up residence and starting a nest in an adjacent platform, which is very interesting. When that platform was installed by the landowner I thought it was too close but here I am now learning that it is not! And from time to time a new female appears to be at GLO-04 with the male. So we'll wait and see what happens there. I also had a report of a new nest in a tree in Gloucester that I am going to see for the first time today. More to come on that. Things are happening fast right now this time of year. Pass the word if anyone thinks they are seeing a nest that is not shown on this map https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?ll=42.77605091218056%2C-70.88409215000001&z=11&mid=1mRqtUdgdso5STgaO-OB9ReGNEPI please have them contact me.
Update #7 May 10, 2021 - Annie laid her second egg yesterday, 5/9. There is not a lot more to report. She is incubating dutifully. I did walk out to the nest last Friday 5/7 to remove the large white plastic trash bag that was brought to the nest by Squam. It was clearly more concerning to viewers than the two of them, but it was easy enough to grab and remove. Squam is one of those "more is better" nest builders. I had cleared off almost all the old nest material last fall concernd it was getting excessively heavy. He has brought in at least a foot of new material this season, which seems to be his norm. And that includes odd items like large plastic bags and the like.
Update #6 May 6, 2021 - No eggs yet for Annie and Squam but a lot of energy is going into building up the nest. It is big and has a deep cup now that Annie can be seen arranging frequently, suggesting the first egg will be forthcoming. They are copulating daily so it is just a matter of time. In 2020, she laid her first egg on May 5, so a little behind this year. Hard to say why - maybe the early season commotion with the banded male, maybe some inclement weather. But many other Osprey pairs have eggs already, and Annie will too soon.
NEWS - Annie did lay her first egg today sometime in the mid-morning.
The dramatic bald eagle events of last week at GLO-04 Annisquam River Platform #1 were upsetting for sure. The pair of eagles returned the next day but according to the observer who lives within sight of this platform, 5 adult Osprey appearred on the scene and literally drove then eagles away. And apparently since then, a second Osprey has been observed at the nest with the surviving male, presumably a new female. I have not been over personally to observe this nest this week bit I will and I'll report back. It will be fascinating if a new female pairs with the male this year.
Update #5 April 30, 2021 - Annie and Squam are in their pre-egg laying mode this week. Squam has delivered significant amounts of new nesting material to the nest and they have each arranged it. All in all, the nest appears close to being ready for eggs. The pair has been seen copulating on numerous occassions, so I anticipate the first egg any day now. Squam has also been doing an excellent job as always providing fish for Annie. Some one asked recently why Annie calls so much sometimes. Its a good question and I think she is calling out for Squam to deliver food. I think he often eats about half his catch himself, often nearby the nest. Annie knows he is there and let's him know through her calls that she is hungry. If you notice, he almost always delivers half a fish to her.
One other interesting side note. Some of you may have seen the red fox that cruised on camera by the nest yesterday morning. I caught a bit of it on video and we posted it on FaceBook. He stopped a bit to sniff around the base of the side perch, but was being dive-bombed by Annie and ran off pretty quickly. I am not worried about them as an Osprey predator, more just an interesting sighting.
Also I hate to divert anyone's attention away from Greenbelt's webcam, but a colleugue who works for MADCR at the Belle Isle Marsh in East Boston has placed a webcam on the Osprey nest there. She is already on one egg. http://share.earthcam.net/BelleIsle/osprey_nest/camera/live
In a sad bit of news, a pair of bald eagles just attacked GLO-02 Annisquam River platform #1 and killed the female. I knew there was a pair of bald eagles nesting nearby and they had been perching on the Osprey platform up until a month ago. The bald eagle took the Osprey on the wing, then plunged it into the water. It never had a chance. The male returned later with a fish, so he is OK for now. It will be interesting to observe if he gets a new mate in 2021. I sort of doubt it. So not such a great day for Osprey and tough for the elderly couple who put up this platform and watch this pair all day long.
Update #4 April 25, 2021 - Annie and Squam have settled into to normal courtship and nest prep activities. The nest is developing nicely and they have been observed copulating numerous times, so I anticipate the first egg in the next week or less.
The intruding banded male has not been seen on the nest for a week now, although at least once I observed a third Osprey around the nest, so he may still be around the area. I suspect he is a young (3-4 yr old) bird who thought he could take a short-cut by taking over an active nest and the famale associated with it. He is a big male - much bigger than Squam. But in this instance size did not seem to matter, as either Squam was able to defend his position as Annie's mate or perhaps Annie herself rejected the banded male. Either way, the young banded male will need to find his own compatible female mate and his own nest site, and I am sure he will.
This type of thing happens all the time in nature and being able to observe it through the webcam is a great privilege for all of us. Every day for these birds and all wildlife, the main priorities are survival and self-perpetuation. There is competition all the time and the strongest and smartest truly are the ones that survive. And keep this in mind in there are approximately 60 pairs of breeding Osprey in our region right now or 120 mature adult Osprey. In addition to that, I would estimate there are another 25-50 non-breeding Osprey less than 5 years old that are living amid the same habitat as the breeding adults. The non-breeders are curious and attracted to the activity at the active nests, and they have plenty of time to check things out. So they can be disruptive at times, but this is how they learn the ropes, where the good breeding areas are, where the best feeding areas are at the different times of the year. This is why Osprey don't breed until they are around 5 years old, because it takes them a few years to figure out migration and where to spend the summer and winter. So our friend the banded male - he was just doing what young Osprey do, trying to figure things out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am sure he learned a lot this spring and it will make him a better mate someday.
Update #3 April 19, 2021 - It seems pretty clear to me now that Annie has a new mate, a banded male that is considerably larger than Squam. It is impossible to know what might have happened to Squam; let's hope he is well somewhere with another mate. He was an excellent partner by all measures - built a solid nest and provided all the food required to keep Annie, chicks and himself well fed. The new male (no name yet) has not been bringing in a lot of nest material as we can all see and it will be interesting to watch how that goes in the next few weeks until egg laying starts (early May last year). I have still seen the new male chasing a third Osprey on the webcam, who I suspect might be Squam. My theory is the new bigger male has outcompeted Squam as Annie's mate and to date has been too distracted with that to focus on nest building. I have seen them mating. But another theory is that something happened to Squam and multiple new males are competing to be Annie's new mate.
Whatever has happened, something has changed. I hear a lot of Osprey calling in the background when I listen to the webcam. The distracted new male may be spending a lot of energy defending his position as Annie's new mate and therefore not focusing on nest building. Just a thought. More waiting and watching will be required before we will know anything definitive. Stay tuned!
Update #2 April 20, 2021 - I had a hunch that Squam was lurking around the nest, and sure enough yesterday afternoon, there he was, on the nest with Annie, bringing in nesting materials just like the good ol' days. After reviewing some of the video tape from yesterday and this morning, I have not observed the banded male at the nest since yesterday at some point. I must assume there was a "meeting of the minds" between the two males, and perhaps Annie too, and order was restored.
Squam has brought in a lot of new nest material in the last 18 hours and this morning it is starting to look more like a real nest, given that the banded male was bringing in material only half-heartedly. So, in short, we were witness to real life drama in the wild for Ospreys, and again now we wait and watch and hopefully see things settle down. Mr. Banded Male needs to go find his own mate and nest site, not take shortcuts!
Thanks to those of you who sent helpful observations. And one other note, if you think the nest looks smaller this year, it is. We went out last fall and removed about 75% of the material. I was worried about the weight of it and the platform was starting to list to one side. That is one reason why large Osprey and Bald Eagle nests in trees sometimes collapse - the sheer weight of multiple years of new nesting material on top of old material gets extremely heavy.
Update #1 April 15, 2021 - Watching the Osprey pair on the webcam now for the past few days, we have noticed that the male Osprey has a US Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum band on his right leg. I have banded over 200 Osprey chicks in the past 5-6 years and all on the right leg. Squam was not banded and it is highly unlikely he would have been banded during migration. Plus, this banded male is a large Osprey who appears almost equal in size to the female, who looks very much like and we believe is Annie. Squam was noticeably smaller than Annie. About noontime today, the banded male attempted to copulate with Annie. Since then there has been a third Osprey around the nest and much commotion, including a lot of chasing and calling.
It will take more time to determine what is going on here. Are two males competing to be Annie's mate. Did something happen to Squam or did this larger male just outcompete him? These are all possible scenarios that will unfold in the coming days. Stay tuned!
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. For more detail on 2020 scroll down.
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: email@example.com. 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.
Update September 22, 2020
This will be the final update for 2020. Liz caused a lot of hand-ringing by remaining on the nest so long, but finally departed fpr parts unknown on Sep 15. I heard from quite a few viewers with conerns about why Liz had not left yet, but across the county, other nests still had a few fledglings clinging hanging aound. So this is fairly normal and I was never overly concerned. Untold numbers of osprey generations have come and gone, and natuaral selection works to determine which birds are the fittest and most capable of survival. Let's hope Liz is just a slow starter and is now well on the way to warmer winter grounds.
Check out Greenbelt's faceBook and Instagram pages for a cool photo of an adult Bald Eagle that was observed on the nest on Sep 20. It wasted no time finding this perch once the nest was vacated.
Finally, we will be taking down the camera on Sep 23 and storing all the associated equipment until next year. It will probably go back up next March. Until then....
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.
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Greenbelt thanks the photographers whose work is featured prominently on our website: Jerry Monkman, Dorothy Monnelly, Adrian Scholes, David Alden St. Pierre & Neil Ungerleider