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Objective: An Empty Nest

Note that the adult Osprey in the air above its nest has no fish clutched in its talons – it is not bringing food back to its young.  Rather, it is doing everything in its power to entice its offspring to take off and catch their own meal. 

An afternoon of observing juvenile Ospreys taking short flights from their nest assured me that the process of fledging had begun.  In the Northeast, young Ospreys usually remain at or near their nest for at least 10 – 20 days after they can fly, during which time their parents continue to bring fish to them.  (This seems quite generous, given that for the past two months both parents (primarily the father) have provided their offspring with food.) Finally, when the young are roughly three months old, the parents go all out to encourage their young to become self-sufficient and secure their own food.

On this particular day, the parents repeatedly soared over their nest and landed in distant trees while the young called out to them over and over. After several of these attempts to lure the juvenile birds away from the nest had failed, one of the parents flew to the nest and proceeded to hover for at least 30 seconds directly above the nest (see photo) before flying towards the nearest body of water. Still, the young birds didn’t budge.  True independence would have to wait at least for one more day.

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10 responses

  1. Mary Waugh

    Great photo and interesting story. Thanks Mary!

    July 30, 2021 at 7:38 am

  2. Nancy Malcolm

    Mary–we have been having the pleasure of hosting the first eagles nest on Lake Dunmore in our tree right smack in front of our camp and over our fire ring and picnic table. What a wonderful experience it has been. We have a question that I have been unable to find an answer for. The eagles nest fell apart over the course of a few weeks. We chalked it up to possible poor construction of first time parents (?) and watching the eaglets trying to fledge –while they flapped their wings the sticks came flying down. In addition to the sticks (one chunk fell onto a lower branch) all of the bones from the dead fish, mammals and snakes came down. I picked up bones everyday for about 3 weeks. It’s impressive. Finally there is nothing left up there. They fledged two and one week ago and do come back to roost on a branch where the nest was. Our questions are: Is it typical behavior to destroy the nest (all my research says no)? Do eagles throw the bones out of the nest or bury them with more sticks? What is the likelihood that they will come back here to rebuild? They had 3 eggs; one fell out around 4 weeks and died, the other two fledged so in that regard it should be considered a successful nest? I realize that the answer to the last question will be definitively answered next year! By the way, we did contact Fish and Wildlife and give them the dead eaglet to send off to the CO lab for research. Any help you can give on our mysteries will be greatly appreciated. Nancy Malcolm

    On Fri, Jul 30, 2021 at 7:27 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” Note that the adult Osprey in the air above its > nest has no fish clutched in its talons – it is not bringing food back to > its young. Rather, it is doing everything in its power to entice its > offspring to take off and catch their own meal. ” >

    July 30, 2021 at 7:51 am

  3. Alice

    That must have been so amusing to watch the ospreys. I wonder if the dad gave in & brought dinner for the kids, or made them feel what it’s like to be hungry, so they’d get their wings moving.

    July 30, 2021 at 8:14 am

    • Charlotte Carlson

      I can hear them now in my imagination!

      July 30, 2021 at 8:28 am

  4. Deborah Luquer

    Testing, testing

    July 30, 2021 at 8:44 am

  5. Peggy Richardson

    The ospreys encouraging their young to leave the nest reminds me of my father’s story about a red-tail hawk family. The adult was sitting on the branch of a tree, very deliberately tearing apart a rabbit or squirrel or something, as it eyed the juveniles, which were lined up on another branch in a nearby tree, eagerly flapping.

    July 30, 2021 at 9:35 am

  6. Amy

    I was paddling on the Goose River in Maine and saw this going on. The parent was having a similar problem with it’s fledgling. I suspect all parents of a teen can relate!

    July 30, 2021 at 9:42 am

  7. Jennifer Farquhar

    Will the parents continue to bring food to their stubborn offspring when they refuse to try to fend for themselves? Or do they let them feel the hunger?
    (I totally feel for the parents, having 3 children of my own who are transitioning to adulthood. My husband calls them “adult-lings”!)

    July 30, 2021 at 12:49 pm

  8. What strong parenting instincts they’re displaying! Wonderful!

    July 30, 2021 at 1:10 pm


    Hi Allie;Are you seeing this with your osprey?? Oops- photos for you got returned as didn’t have the right postage…Resending today. Hoping you had as glorious a summer’s day SAT as we had here. H and L here while J and E at J and A’s Bachelor/Bachelorette Weekend- in Nahant. 12 friends attending. Nic Darlington (Anna’s housemate from Missoula flying in from Boise, Idaho and “best maid of honor” flying in from Denver, and will fly in again…) Others more local. Good fun with H and L, with lots of outdoor fun. Re stacked remaining wood from Wilsons’ winter pile in the barn. Now cleaning for the Brunch…You will get an E-vite from Jenny and Eric…The daily stuff here and so happy to see the rains moving out….See you very soon! xxo C

    August 2, 2021 at 9:12 am

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