Bella & Beau: Growing Chicks and Bonding Between Bella & Beau

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

June 11, 2018

After their last post, I’ll start off by saying this update on Bella & Beau is much calmer.  I think this one will warm your heart.

The two chicks seem to be thriving well.  As all baby birds do, the chicks basically eat and sleep.  They can be heard chirping at feeding to get Momma Bella’s attention.

_DSC0087-2 61018

Both chicks vying for Momma Bella’s attention to feed them.

 

Each chick appears to be getting plenty to eat.  Momma Bella gives attention to each one.

 

If you enlarge these two shots, you’ll see the chicks both trying to eat the same piece of fish.  Reminded me of the children’s Disney movie, “Lady & The Tramp” where they shared a piece of spaghetti.

 

 

They have now even learned how to back up to poop over the rim of the nest.  Obviously, this is important!

 

_DSC0199-1 61118

Chicks must learn to help keep the nest clean.

 

The chicks developed their food crop at one week old.  It is now evident to see as the growing chicks eat and pack it at each feeding.

 

_DSC0106-1 61018

You can see these chicks’ food crop bulging below their throats during the end of a feeding.

 

 

Now at 2½ and 3 weeks old, the chicks are actively crawling around the nesting cup, sitting up and curiously looking out.  They even approach Momma Bella when it is feeding time.

 

_DSC0415-1 6618

_DSC0403-1 6618

 

 

The chicks have learned the art of preening as they lose their first down feathers that are being replaced on their bodies by a thick dark, wooly-looking second down that’ll last another week or so.  Their head and neck has begun the growth of their golden feathers.  Their body’s darker feathers will appear on the rest of their body a little later.

The chicks have also developed their light brown streak on their back that runs the length of their spine.  Appearing as a ‘stick’ in the nest, this helps to camouflage the chick while they lie down in the nest to sleep or ‘hide’ from an overhead predator.

_DSC0289-1 61018

Chicks with their wooly-looking second down and light brown ‘stripe’ that helps to camouflage them in the nest.

 

 

Beau is on the move back and forth, bringing fish after fish.  He is still providing food to Bella as the chicks.

 

_DSC0039-1 6618.jpg

Beau delivering another fish.  Now the chicks have interest when food arrives.

 

_DSC0006-1 61018

This time the fish is not headless.  Beau must not have been hungry or felt the family needed the nourishment more.

 

_DSC0396-1 61018

Up until dusk, Beau is still delivering.

 

 

The chicks are also having the normal sibling aggression which is commonly a peck or a blow delivered to the back of the neck, head, or tail.  It occurs mostly while waiting for food or during the beginning of the feeding time and is usually done by the largest chick.  So far, it’s not been too bad or often.

Oldest chick being aggressive with the other chick.

 

Oldest chick being aggressive with the other chick.

 

As to Bella & Beau’s nest, as you can see in this next image, it is still in dire need of growth.  The nest is going to remain a major concern and challenge.  It is important to keep the chicks ‘gated’ to avoid a mishap.

While the chicks are active, I’ve watched both parents move and perch on the edge where the chicks were ‘headed’ to block them.  This is a good thing.

_DSC0157-1 61018.jpg

Nest on 6/10/18.

 

 

We know nest protection is obviously still a daily chore.  The area’s Osprey ‘regulars’ still fly overhead but have stayed their distance.

Bella watching another pair of Osprey flying high over her and the chicks.

 

There are two other frequent birds that are not predators, but Bella & Beau still have a distaste for — Cormorants and Great Blue Herons.  Scare attacks by Bella & Beau are common to force either to move on.

 

Beau doing scare attack swoops down at Great Blue Heron who is on their nest dock.

 

 

 “Geez, what did I do?”                                       “I am outta here!”

 

 

A Double-crested Cormorant arrives.            Bella & Beau take note.  A chick is curious.

 

The Cormorant saw Bella coming and dives quickly to avoid the attack.

 

Another attack by Bella, as the Cormorant gets further away.

 

_DSC0527-1 6618

Finally the Cormorant flies away and Bella returns drenched and probably exhausted.

 

_DSC0487-1 6618

“That was my Momma!”

 

 

Then there is the human disturbance.  Bella & Beau aren’t quite sure what to make of that species.  Overall, they tolerate humans and the boats they ride by in.

If feeling somewhat threatened though, one parent will remain on the nest while the other flies overhead, circling.  Alarm calls might be voiced, if someone approaches on the dock or finger pier.

Osprey normally do not attack humans, but I’ve noticed they seem more agitated with a dog or kayakers below them.  Bottom line, if an Osprey feels threatened, it will attack.

_DSC0267-1 6618

Bella keeping her eye on the kayaker.

 

DSC_9540-1 6618

“Dorothy-Megan” an 80 foot working replica of an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, one of two that comes by on sightseeing cruises around the area.  This caused Beau to take flight while Bella stayed put.

 

As I end this update, I wanted to share what I’ve seen twice this past week that confirms the life-time bond and love story that Bella & Beau have created.

I watched with wonderment as Beau, followed by Bella, left the nest and took flight, circling above the nest.

There was no intruder in the sky, just the two of them.

Bella & Beau reuniting their bond in an aerial courtship, just for a moment, away from the challenges of the nest.

Bella & Beau flying and reuniting their bond.

 

Bella & Beau look happy!!

 

For all the challenges faced and those still to come, it surely warms the heart to see Bella & Beau’s bond is still strong.

After another bout of showers, tonight the cloudy skies opened up to give a brilliant sunset.

DSC_9573-1 61118

Sunset over Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek – 6/11/18

 

_DSC0054-1 61118

Bella settles in for the night – 6/11/18

 

 

 

 

Cloud Reflections at Blackwater NWR

Back in May after several days of heavy rains and flooding, we visited Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

The views were spectacular.

 

DSC_9273-1 52018

Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, Maryland – May 20, 2018

 

DSC_9272-1 52018

Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, Maryland – May 20, 2018

 

DSC_9271-1 52018

Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, Maryland – May 20, 2018

 

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright

 

 

“Backyard” Fly-Bys

Besides Bella & Beau (although they do get top billing!), there is a lot more wildlife activity that I see from my balcony around my waterfront ‘backyard’ that can keep a nature-lover entertained.

There are birds always flying by.  It’s whether I see and can capture them in time or not.  Sometimes I get lucky.

_DSC0269-1 5818

Mallard (male)

 

 

_DSC0024-1 5118

Double-crested Cormorant

 

 

_DSC0019-1 52918

Great Blue Heron

 

 

_DSC0018-2 51418

Barn Swallow

 

 

_DSC0219-1 52918

Green Heron

 

 

_DSC0141-1 6618

Black-crowned Night-Heron

 

 

_DSC0039-1 51418

Spotted Sandpiper

 

 

Of course, Bella & Beau do fly-bys also, so I’ll include of images of them I haven’t shared previously.

_DSC0110-1 6518

Female Osprey (Bella)

 

 

_DSC0166-1 52918 Beau

Male Osprey (Beau)

 

 

Sometimes Bella & Beau like to fly by me real close to check me out.

_DSC0114-1 6518.jpg

Female Osprey (Bella saying “Hi” to me)

 

Oh, to fly like a bird, how awesome that would be….

 

Bella & Beau: Good News, Sad News, and Another Nest Attack

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

June 6, 2018

A lot has happened since last week’s post announcing the arrival of Bella & Beau’s two chicks.  The good news it is wonderful to report they are thriving and growing.  Look how big they are as of today!

_DSC0266-1 6618

Bella along side their chicks while Beau keeps a lookout for intruders. (6/6/18)

 

Following my last post and another day of rainy weather, I was looking through my binoculars and had to rub my eyes twice and look again.  Was I seeing a third hatchling?  Here’s two photos.

_DSC0074-1 6118

Bella and her three chicks.

 

_DSC0169-1 6118

All three chicks with mouths opened, begging for Bella’s next piece of fish.

 

I watched Bella feed the three chicks for two days.  And then the weather went foul again.  For two days it rained, many times it down-poured.  It got quite chilly, almost cold.

_DSC0024-1 6318

Bella spread over her chicks while enduring a heavy mid-morning downpour 6/3/18.

 

Finally the precipitation stopped, and Monday we started drying out.  I watched for feedings to get a head count and take more photos to post.  Beau was back at work bringing fish to the nest.

_DSC0088-1 53118

Beau delivering a headless fish to the nest.  He ate the rest enroute.

 

_DSC0029-1 6618

Beau delivering another headless fish to the nest.

 

I watched for three days, and come to the sad news.  Unfortunately, there are now only two chicks showing at all the feedings.  The third chick possibly succumbed to the torrential rains and cold, or maybe it didn’t get fed during the quick intermittent feedings.  Whatever happened….poor baby….

_DSC0023-1 6218

Only two chicks at feeding.

 

Only two chicks at feedings.

 

We’ll stay positive for the two healthy chicks, right?!!

Oh boy, that nest.  Yes, the size and structure of Bella & Beau’s nest is terrible, showing young Bella & Beau’s inexperience with building.  And, it is not for lack of trying!  Although the nesting cup seems much improved and now enlarged, the outer walls of the nest seem to lessen more and more.

 

                                    Nest on 5/29/18.                                                   Nest today, 6/6/18.

 

We now have an even larger pile of sticks on the dock that have fallen off the nest.  More goes into the water and float away.

_DSC0092-1 6418

Sticks that have fallen off the nest above.

 

I did capture Beau attempting to get a little branch that was afloat, but all he got was a nice bath instead.  Notice the Barn Swallow photo-bombing the end of the slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Bella & Beau continue to fiercely protect their family.  Besides the intruding local Osprey pair still flying overhead to irritate, Great Blue Herons keep coming around.  All are quickly chased away.

And then today I watched a second attack on Bella & Beau’s nest, this time from a Bald Eagle.  I was horrified.

_DSC0112-1 6618

Bald Eagle flying down towards Bella & Beau’s nest.

 

_DSC0106-1 6618

Beau saw the incoming Eagle and takes flight.  Bella was feeding the chicks and looks up at the Eagle, starts screaming, and also took flight.

 

_DSC0123-1 6618

I was shocked Bella left the nest.  A chick is sitting up, looking around at all the commotion.

 

I watched in horror as the Eagle swooped down to the nest, and I know I screamed.  Beau dove at the Eagle at lightning speed, thwarting the Eagle’s direction, missing the nest.

_DSC0125-1 6618

Beau upper left corner after attacking Eagle. thwarting his attack on the nest.

 

The Bald Eagle circles around for another attack!

 

Another swoop down to the nest!  I heard myself scream again, “NOOOOO!”  Both Beau and Bella were right behind the Eagle, and the Eagle turned away again from their attacks.

_DSC0128-1 6618

An angry Eagle not getting a chance to attack the nest.

 

_DSC0158-1 6618

Bella landed back on the nest to better guard it.

 

Meanwhile, Beau stays on the Eagle, forcing him out of the area.

 

I watched Beau chase that Eagle until I could no longer see either of them.  Now I was worried.  Did the Eagle actually grab a chick and Beau knew it?  I grabbed my binoculars and looked at the nest.  Whew, both chicks were accounted for!

I feel for Bella and Beau.  They are both exhausted as it is, and then have to fight for theirs and their chicks’ lives.  In this next photo, I captured where Bella didn’t even wake up to Beau arriving with a fish.  Beau stayed in place with it to wait until Bella was ready.  He then fell asleep too.

_DSC0079-1 6418

Two exhausted parents.

 

After a beautiful today, clouds moved in for the evening as the sun was setting.  I checked on the family and found the two chicks sitting up, looking around.  They are growing like weeds.  The oldest chick is now about 2 1/2 weeks old and the second about 2 weeks old.

_DSC0007-1 6618

Bella preening while her two chicks take a glimpse at their new world.

 

At sunset, the sun blazed the horizon, ending a chaotic day.  I hope we don’t have too many more days like this one.

DSC_9526-1 6518

Bella & Beau’s nest platform is to the far right over the water in the photo.

 

I’m slipping in another sunset shot from the day before, it was too pretty not to share.  🙂

DSC_9513-1 6418

Bella & Beau’s nest platform is to the far right in the photo.  Beau is perched on it in this one while Bella broods the chicks.

 

We have two upcoming gorgeous days, followed by a weekend of nasty weather again.  All this is the daily life of the Osprey.

 

 

An Osprey Meal

At Blackwater NWR, a female Osprey is watching while filling the refuge’s quietness with chirp……chirp….chirp…..chirp…..

_DSC0114-1 52418

Female Osprey brooding while watching & waiting on her mate to bring her a meal.

 

Her mate is in sight just across the way, perched in a tree with their meal.  He hears her.  But first, he will eat his part of the meal, the head of the fish.  The rest will be hers and any possible hatchlings.

 

_DSC0129-1 52418

Male Osprey eating the head off the fish before delivering it to his mate.  He’s looking across at his partner who is chirping for him to hurry up!

 

At another Osprey nest, a brooding female watches her mate eat right in front of her.  He, too, will eat just the head.

_DSC0159-1 52418

Another Osprey pair with the male eating the fish’s head before passing it over to his partner.

 

Word from Blackwater NWR is there appears to be hatchlings at their multiple Osprey nests, including the two above.  How wonderful for the Osprey!

 

 

Bella & Beau: Hello World!

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

May 31, 2018

In Bella & Beau’s last couple posts, I had noted I was seeing changes in behavior at their nest for the last two weeks.  Were they indications of one or more hatchlings?  Or bad news?

The behavior changes:
1.  Bella & Beau both staring down into their nest with inquisitive looks.
2.  Bella not leaving the nest to eat as normal, instead staying put while doing head movements mimicking gentle feedings within the nest.
3.  Bella actually not leaving the nest much at all, a quick fly around and back to the nest to incubate/brood.
4.  Beau stopped incubating altogether.  He just stared into the nest and was on guard while Bella did some quick flights overhead.
5.  Nest protection became more fierce.

 

I can now officially say and show Bella & Beau have had not one, but two successful hatchings!

 

_DSC0042-2 53118

Hello World!
Bella & Beau’s two chicks, looking at Mama Bella for another bite.

 

_DSC0042-1 53118

(Without that ugly white circle!)

 

Unfortunately our weather has been mostly cloudy with more rain this past week, so my photos aren’t the greatest, and cropping doesn’t help.

I am also watching the nest with my binoculars, and I’ve been able to see the two chicks sit up quite steady, looking strong and healthy.  First-born Chick #1 is a little bigger than #2 but hasn’t yet quite gotten into dominating the feedings as the first-born normally starts doing.  So Chick #2 is getting fed quite well also which is awesome.

_DSC0063-1 53118

Mama Bella feeding Chick #1.

 

_DSC0070-1 53118

Mama Bella then proceeds to give Chick #2 his bite.

 

The looks that Bella & Beau give while staring at each other and into the nest are priceless.  With the inexperience they both have shown this season, these chicks may be their first brood.

_DSC0039-1 53118

Bella had just returned from a swim.  Both chicks are side by side, staring at her behind a stick.

 

_DSC0071-1 52918

Beau taking a curious look as Bella feeds the chicks.

 

_DSC0048-2 53118

A tired Bella & Beau look like they’re wondering what they got themselves into.

 

And now the work really begins for Bella & Beau.   Bella’s demands are constant.  She wants both nesting materials and fish meals.

_DSC0066-1 52918

Bella telling Beau she wants something.

 

_DSC0166-1 52918 Beau

Beau took off to get Bella’s demand, but I didn’t get to see him return to find out what it was.

 

Bella, in the meantime, is starting to get some reprieve with longer flights and perching away from the nest as the approximately two-week old chicks are now brooded or shaded intermittently from the sun and rain.

You’re going to be amazed on watching these chicks as they begin their fast growth.  In two more weeks, they will have reached about 70-75% of their adult weight.  They will be fledging in about six weeks.

With such bad weather and the past intruding Osprey pair attack, it is nice to give some good news on Bella & Beau this time.  Hopefully the sun will come out this week at one point for better images of the chicks as well as other updates on the family.

As I end and publish this post, a thunderstorm is descending upon the area.  Protect those babies, Bella!

 

She’s A Survivor

From my balcony, I have been watching and photographing another one of my ‘backyard’ birds for a couple months now, a female Canvasback.

Because she is still here in Maryland and had not migrated to the northwest U.S. and Canada to breed, and she looked healthy, I knew that she was probably injured.

I instantly smile when I see her, swimming around, in and out of the marinas, going up and down the length of the creek.  I named her Cassie.

 

_DSC0089-1 5918

Female Canvasback “Cassie”

 

I also love watching Cassie take her ‘baths’, she looks like she enjoys them so much.  It was when I first saw her dunking and stretching that I observed Cassie’s right wing was severely damaged.

Despite her injury, here’s a beautiful Canvasback bathing in a nine-frame slideshow!

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Female Canvasback enjoying a few dunks and stretches.  Notice her injured right wing.

 

To get out of the creek periodically, Cassie uses marina ladders and woodwork under the docks and around the bulkheads.  Here she can preen and rest a little out of the water.

 

_DSC0067-1 5718

Female Canvasback resting on a marina ladder.

 

_DSC0457-1 5818

Female Canvasback preening on another marina ladder just below me.

 

 Cassie is a welcomed sight, no matter the weather.

_DSC0005-1 5518

A shower begins to fall on Cassie.

 

With her disability, Cassie will have it rough the rest of her life as she continues to survive the challenging world surrounding her.

I will continue to enjoy the opportunities I get to watch Cassie.  She’s a sweetheart.

 

_DSC0744-1 5818

Cassie smiling for the world!

 

And for now……she’s a survivor.

 

%d bloggers like this: