Bella & Beau: Healthy and Growing Chicks
(Osprey nest location: Cambridge, Maryland, USA)
June 24, 2018
It is wonderful to post that Bella & Beau’s two chicks continue to look healthy and have grown tremendously in the last two weeks. The oldest chick is about 5 weeks old, followed by the second chick that is about 4 to 4½ weeks old.
Beau chick-sitting while Bella is out retrieving nesting materials.
It is now noticeable that there is quite a difference in size between the two. This is possibly one of two reasons. Either the second chick is perhaps the third egg that hatched and it was the second-born chick that was lost, making the smallest chick possibly 6-7 days younger; or the largest chick is a female (who gains weight faster than the male) and/or the smaller chick is a male.
Bella dries off while the chicks check out the world around them. Notice they have been recently fed by the fullness of their food crop between their neck and chest.
In a couple more weeks, it should be possible to tell the two chicks’ gender by their size (female is larger) and the brown speckling (or lack thereof if a male) on their chests.
An Osprey nestful as Beau looks at us and asks, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Amazingly, the two chicks have now attained about 75% of their adult body weight. In the photos you can see the feathers on their heads have come in while the dense, wooly down on their body is in its stage of being replaced with the growth of feathers.
Feathers begin to emerge on the chicks’ bodies.
The chicks’ wings have also grown substantially. They can be seen stretching and trying to flap them. This exercise will increase more and more each day. In 2-3 weeks the chicks should be ready to fledge!
June 14 June 23
As the saying goes, Bella & Beau have surely “had their hands full” with the full-time care of their large, awkward babies who are awake for longer periods and like to migrate around the nest with curiosity.
As seen in the photos, the nest still remains in a challenging state. I hate to tell on Beau, but he doesn’t seem to care about retrieving any more sticks. Bella will demand to the point she is quite loud, but Beau ignores her and stays perched on the nest.
Bella demanding Beau go for nesting materials.
After fruitless demanding, I’ve watch Bella time after time go and come back with sticks and soft materials while he stays put. Some nest growth begins and then it diminishes as sticks are knocked off onto the dock or in the water below.
Bella gives up on Beau and takes off to get nesting materials.
“Where did Mom go?”
Bella immediately returns with a stick while Beau watches her.
I looked for information about inexperienced Osprey and found that the produced nest of a young Osprey pair’s first season will be quite small, less than 2½ feet in diameter and only 3-6 inches deep. So, okay, we will give Beau that one.
Bella appears to have taken over supplying nesting materials to the nest.
Hopefully, some stick ‘gates’ that Bella keeps placing will get lodged in tight enough. In the meantime, Bella can be seen moving strategically around and perch alongside the nest edge to block any chick she feels is too close to the edge.
Bella sensing the chicks are leaning out too far over the edge of the nest.
Bella positions herself between the edge and the chicks, getting them to back up a bit.
Bella succeeds in the chicks getting back away from the edge.
It gets clearer and clearer that Bella is in charge of the nest.
Beau decides to help Bella but Bella clearly makes the final decision on that stick placement.
When the chicks are up and hungry, Bella bellows to Beau that demand as well. Beau seems to have this figured out better and is working hard to keep up with the demand.
Beau “bringing home the bacon”…..I mean fish!
Beau must be doing a fairly good job as evidenced by the large food crops the chicks show often.
Bella still is and will continue to feed the chicks for another couple weeks before they can feed themselves. Most times the oldest chick eats first while the youngest patiently waits his/her turn. With plenty of fish meals, the normal sibling aggression is almost non-existent for now which is good.
The youngest chick gets his/her feeding after the oldest has had his fill.
Even though Bella gives Beau a hard time with her demands, at the end of the day there’s still a bond that they reignite.
Bella & Beau flying together overhead their nest for just a few minutes.
Another evening and another flight for Bella & Beau.
And another gorgeous sunset we all got to enjoy!