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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beau delivering another fish. Now the chicks have interest when food arrives.
This time the fish is not headless. Beau must not have been hungry or felt the family needed the nourishment more.
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.
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.
Finally the Cormorant flies away and Bella returns drenched and probably exhausted.
“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.
Bella keeping her eye on the kayaker.
“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.
Sunset over Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek – 6/11/18
Bella settles in for the night – 6/11/18