Found on every continent except Antarctica, osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are one of the Chesapeake's most amazing birds for a number of reasons. They migrate thousands of miles each year to and from Central and South America, mate for life, and return to the same spot year after year, despite spending the winter apart from each other.Learn More
Update: On May 29 the remaining egg cracked open and was not viable. Tom & Audrey continue to stay together at or near the nest and have mated several times.
The ospreys returned to the Chesapeake early for the 2016 season, with a visiting osprey arriving a full week ahead of the usual return date which is around St. Patrick’s Day. Audrey arrived ahead of Tom and began building the nest.
Despite the early arrival, Audrey did not lay her first egg until April 17. Fans watched with bated breath as both Tom and Audrey inexplicably left their three eggs unattended for seven hours in steady rain and an air temperature of 42 degrees. The first egg hatched almost miraculously after 40 days, stretching the limit of the incubation period, which normally lasts between 36 and 42 days.
By May 29, the nest had 2 chicks. A newly installed infrared light allowed viewers to watch the nest in almost total darkness. This new feature revealed a tragedy when a predator attacked the nest, knocking Audrey and one of the chicks off the nest. The surviving chick was named Chessie, with a back and forth discussion over whether Chessie was male or female. Late into the season U.S. Fish and Wildlife Raptor Biologist Craig Koppie believed Chessie was male.
Found on every continent except Antarctica, osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are one of the Chesapeake’s most amazing birds for a number of reasons. They migrate thousands of miles each year to and from Central and South America, mate for life, and return to the same spot year after year, despite spending the winter apart from each other.
After an almost 90% decline in population from 1950-1970, osprey populations have rebounded due in large part to conservation efforts and the banning of DDT. Osprey can be a valuable indicator species for monitoring the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay because their diet consists almost entirely of fish and they are sensitive to many environmental contaminants. To make sure these magnificent Bay residents continue to thrive, we are working to ensure that river corridors remain protected and that the Chesapeake Bay can support abundant fish populations.
You might see ribbons on some of the sticks in Audrey’s nest. The Crazy Osprey Family puts a few sticks with ribbons tied on them in their yard each season. It’s fun to track where they wind up!
To learn more about osprey and the Bay’s other amazing creatures use our National Wildlife Refuge App, or visit one of our region’s many national and state parks and refuges to see them in the wild!
If you enjoy our Osprey Cam, please consider donating to the Chesapeake Conservancy to help us in our efforts to protect their Chesapeake habitat.
Special thanks to Skyline Technology Solutions, who has provided technical expertise and manages the video stream, Investigative Options Inc., for installing and maintaining the camera and platform, and the Shared Earth Foundation.
Learn more about osprey with our frequently asked questions and fun facts here.