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We Now Take a Break from Sailing to Watch Birds Eat

For the last two years, I’ve been using www.sfbayospreys.org as a wind camera to check conditions at Point Isabel. Next to the Red Oak Victory museum ship at the Port of Richmond, the top of a crane is home to a growing family of ospreys.

I obviously should have brought the telephoto lens, but the ospreys’ crane is in the upper right-hand side of the photo, dwarfed by Mount Tam in the background, and as seen from Point Isabel on a light-wind day.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

I remember seeing, but not being terribly impressed by, eggs in the nest a few weeks ago, failing to realize (I guess) that chicks were on the way.

The mama osprey (I presume) was sitting on her eggs on April 11. There often seems to be the odd plastic bag in the nest. “In San Francisco, one osprey pair used ‘caution’ tape to help build their nest!” the Golden Gate Audubon Society said. (P.S.: That’s Brooks Island in the background.)
© 2021 Golden Gate Audubon Society

 

Several sailors from around the Bay have sent us screen shots of any number of cool sailboats transiting past Point Potrero. There were plenty of commercial ships passing by, too, on April 29.
© 2021 Golden Gate Audubon Society

Sure enough, a few weeks later, three chicks were in the nest, and they were hungry.

Top photo: You can just see the squawking heads of the triplets in the middle bottom of the photo. Bottom right photo: A young osprey is (apparently) a bit homely, and looks a little like a miniature dinosaur, or a Muppet, compared to the handsome, regal adults. Photos from May 6.
© 2021 Golden Gate Audubon Society

I couldn’t believe that, in checking the wind, I had caught such an intimate moment between mother and chicks. Suddenly, the osprey cam was like watching the C-SPAN version of a BBC documentary.

“Open wide … Here comes the airplane!” There is part of a fish under Mom’s foot from which she tore out mouthfuls of pink flesh, feeding the young ‘uns fresh Bay-caught sashimi on May 15.
© 2021 Golden Gate Audubon Society

A few days after the feast pictured above, I told a friend what I’d witnessed. He asked to see the cam, and we tuned in exactly as one of the parent ospreys had half a fish in its talons, and began the slow, patient process of mouth-to-mouth feeding the chicks. My friend and I shrieked like ten-year-olds at a zoo’s baby panda exhibit. I’ve since witnessed several other feedings, and have watched the chicks grow. Moments that one expects to see on the cover of a National Geographic are suddenly on tap. Apparently, ospreys eat all of the time.

This shot is from 10:30 this morning, as the osprey family was having breakfast.
© 2021 Golden Gate Audubon Society

If there’s any way you can read this next paragraph in David Attenborough’s voice, please do: Female osprey lay three beige- and brown-speckled eggs between mid-April and late May, and incubation lasts for 38 to 42 days. The eggs do not hatch at the same time, and the first chick may hatch as many as five days before the last, creating a sibling hierarchy. Osprey chicks are full-grown at six weeks and take their first flights from the nest at about 8 to 10 weeks of age, when their mortality rate will be high.

4 Comments

  1. Tony M Spooner 2 months ago

    Do not, I repeat, do not click on the camera link. You will get nothing done for hours. Joking, of course.

  2. Luc de Faymoreau 2 months ago

    Getting something done is over-rated

  3. Sailorette 2 months ago

    I like to watch the Bald Eagles on the Catalina Cam. Their feathers are opening and they are looking like they are almost ready to fly!

  4. Sailorette 2 months ago

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