The Canadian Peregrine Foundation
MOUNTSBERG HOME PAGE
Directions to Mountsberg:
Mountsberg is located between Hamilton and Guelph, and is a 40 to 60 minute drive west of Toronto. Take Highway 401 to Guelph Line (exit 312), then head south through the town of Campbellville. Turn right onto Campbellville Road, then after ~5 km turn right again on Milborough Line (there is a sign at the side of the road). The park entrance is on the left, ~2 km north of the intersection. For more information about Mountsberg, call (905) 854-2276.
MOUNTSBERG OSPREY NEST SITE REPORTS:
Saturday November 25, 2000
Sandra Metzger reports: This summer the Mountsberg Wildlife Centre was again host to an Osprey family. Although we can’t prove it, we believe the birds that nested were “Duncan” and “Isabell”, the same pair as last year (some may remember that at the beginning of the spring I reported seeing a banded male osprey. He disappeared after about a week and was replaced by an unbanded adult male which to me looked like last year’s male). As the camera was not functional this year, it took a little more effort to keep tabs on the family’s activities, however staff still continued to monitor their progress periodically. This year we were happy to see 3 osprey chicks in the nest. All three successfully fledged, and we would often get reports from park visitors who saw the family out on fishing trips around the Mountsberg reservoir. Also, just like last year, there was occasionally a third adult osprey seen hanging around the reservoir. The presence of this bird seemed to be tolerated by the adult pair, as long as it did not venture too close to the nest. All the ospreys left our reservoir by the end of September. We hope to see ‘our” adult pair back again next year!
Saturday April 8, 2000
Sandra Metzger reports: Yesterday (April 7) just before lunch I was out for a walk at work to see what birds were around. Much to my delight, as I approached the osprey nest I saw a dark form sitting in the nest. Viewed through the scope this dark shape became an adult osprey. After about 10 minutes of very careful observation, I am fairly confidant in concluding that this is Isabell (last year's female) as the markings are exactly as I remember. As the male has always returned before the female in the last few years I hung around in the hope that the male would soon appear. I was not to be disappointed - after about 5 more minutes a second bird flew into the nest. At first glance this bird did not look like Duncan (last year's male) to me. Luckily the bird was very co-operative and allowed me to see that he is banded with a silver band on his left leg and a black band bearing the number 14 on the right. Both birds hung around the nest for awhile during which time I observed some pre-copulatory behaviour in which the female solicited the male.
Monday March 28, 2000
Marcel Gahbauer reports: There have been no osprey sightings at Mountsberg yet this spring, but it shouldn't be long until they return. Many migrating birds have been arriving in southern Ontario one to two weeks early this year because of the mild weather we have had, and given that Duncan was already back by April 9 last year, we hope to be seeing him any day now.
Monday August 30
Sandra Metzger reports: Archi continues to be seen on a regular basis, but up until Saturday evening, I had not seen either of the adults for over a week. Around 7:00 pm Saturday, Archi was sitting up in the nest and was vocalizing every now and again. After maybe 20 minutes Duncan flew in and delivered a big juicy goldfish for dinner. He then flew around to the north of the nest pole and did something I've never seen before. He flew very close to the surface of the water and would periodically fly so low that his chest was dragging through the water. After a few minutes of this he looped around and flew south, landing in a big tree which seems to be one of his favorite perches when he is near the nest. After a good shake to get the water out of his feathers he settled in and was still in this spot when I left.
Monday August 23
Sandra Metzger reports: On both Friday and today I was out at Mountsberg and checked in on the osprey. On both occasions Archibald was in sight either on or near the nest, but neither of the adults were anywhere in sight. Last year they didn't migrate until September, so my hunch is that both Duncan and Isabell are still around; they are probably just enjoying a break from parenting now that Archi is becoming independent.
Wednesday August 18
Marcel Gahbauer reports: I spent about an hour this afternoon down by the shoreline of the Mountsberg reservoir, hoping to get some photos of the ospreys, but it would appear that they are familiar with one of the universal rules of birds - avoid cameras at all costs. One of them (I think Duncan) was on the top of the nest pole when I arrived, but he took off as soon as I had the camera set up (although he had pretty much ignored me up to that point). Following his flight, I noticed him circling with another osprey on the west side of the reservoir for a while. This was probably Archi, as I then spotted what must have been Isabell perched on a dead tree branch near the south end of the reservoir. The lighting was great, the setting was perfect, but the distance was much too great for a decent photo. After hiding in the bushes and waiting patiently for almost half an hour, I moved on, realizing that the ospreys just weren't in the mood for posing for pictures. As I found out later, Michelle Bartlett went to take a look not five minutes after I had left, and found all three ospreys up at the nest, where they stayed for most of the afternoon. I'm sure they were all laughing at me...
Saturday August 14
Sandra Metzger reports: This evening I was out at Mountsberg and as always I did a quick check on the osprey family. Isabell was sitting on the edge of the nest and Archi was on top of the nest pole. Both were looking very relaxed although Isabell did vocalize a few times (I think I was a little too far out on the shoreline for her tastes).
Thursday August 12
Sandra Metzger reports: At noon I took a quick trip down to the shoreline to check on the osprey. Both Isabell and Archi were in the nest enjoying some lunch. Even though Archi is becoming more grown up and independent, it seems he is not yet totally mature as Isabell was still feeding him beak to beak.
Saturday August 7
Sandra Metzger reports: Around 9:00 this morning I stopped at the north end of the Mountsberg reservoir to see if I could spot any of the osprey. I did spot one and possibly a second one as well over the west side of the reservoir. I then drove over to the main parking lot and went down to the shore where I saw one of the adults on top of the nest pole.
Around noon, I was outside and saw all three osprey soaring together over the Interpretive Centre and barn and parking lot. One was soaring lower than the other two and was also vocalizing - I assumed this one to be Archi. All three birds were flying well and looked strong - it is a very good sign that based on flight style alone I was not able to tell Archi apart from his parents.
Tuesday August 3
Sandra Metzger reports: I arrived at Mountsberg at 6:50 a.m. and watched the osprey for about an hour and a half. When I got there Isabell was on the top of the nest pole, Archi was on a pole above the railway tracks and Duncan was nowhere to be seen. Isabell and Archi stayed on their respective poles for about half and hour, then Isabell took off and flew low over the reservoir, buzzing some geese in the process. She then flew low over Archi (I guess to check up on him), then flew out of sight. She returned a few minutes later holding a branch in her talons. This branch was at least 3 feet long and was giving her trouble as she tried to land on top of the nest pole without dropping the stick. She balanced precariously on top of the pole for a bit, sometimes even reaching her foot down and using the camera as a perch, then she dropped down into the nest. While I was watching Isabell do her balancing act I saw out of the corner of my eye a second osprey in the air. At first I assumed this was Duncan, but when I got the scope on him I saw it was Archi (my first chance to see him fly and I missed most of it because I was watching his mom!). Archi made a decent landing on the side of the nest. I guess he saw Isabell having trouble with her branch because after flying over, he and Isabell spent some time arranging branches (Ok, so Isabell would move sticks around and he would "help" by picking at some branches with his beak).
After about five minutes of housecleaning they both looked up and vocalized as Duncan flew in with a fish. Once again I was able to see the fish before he landed in the nest with it, and once again it was a very large goldfish (I wonder where he's finding them?). Just as he did last night, Duncan only stayed at the nest long enough to drop of the fish, then he took off to the south. This morning Isabell apparently decided to feed herself first (perhaps hoping that Archi would take a hint and feed himself), then after she had eaten for a few minutes she started to feed him. It was about this time that I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open, and decided to lay down on the picnic table for a five minute nap (I'm still getting used to getting up early again - I guess I'll have no choice after the falcons are released in Guelph tomorrow!). Of course, when I got up to watch the osprey again, they were not up at the nest any more. After a quick search I found Duncan and Archi sitting in a half-dead tree several hundred meters south of the nest. Isabell flew in to the nest a few minutes later with another stick in her feet. After dropping off the stick, she flew over to the tree to join Duncan and Archi. I was still hoping to see Archi fly, and thankfully I was not to be disappointed this morning. Shortly after 8:00 a.m. Archi made a good long flight. He started by circling around the tree then flew north towards the nest and very low in over the shore above my head, then flew further north towards the railway tracks, then back south past the nest and eventually back to the tree where he started. He looked a little wobbly at times, but overall flew and landed well. Finally satisfied that I was able to see him fly, I headed back to Guelph for the day.
Monday August 2
Sandra Metzger reports: I was out at Mountsberg again tonight and spent about an hour watching the osprey family. When I got there Archi was in the nest and Isabell was on top of the nest pole. Both spent some time preening, then Isabell flew down to the nest and sat there with Archi. Every once and awhile, she would pick at a stick and reposition it - it seems that she's still not satisfied with her nest!
After Isabell had been in the nest bowl for about 15 minutes, both she and Archi started to vocalize and get quite excited over something. As I anticipated, they had caught sight of Duncan flying in with supper. Duncan landed on the top of the nest pole long enough for me to identify what was on tonight's menu - goldfish! And I'm talking BIG goldfish! With Isabell and Archi both screaming for food Duncan did what any sensible osprey dad would do - he landed in the nest, gave them the food, then flew away. It seems that poor old Duncan is still doing all the hunting for himself, his mate and his chick. I watched Isabell feed Archi for awhile (yes, he is still getting his mom to feed him!) then left them for the night.
Although I didn't get to see Archi fly as I had hoped, it was still a great evening. The reservoir was alive with bird life. Lots of geese, ducks and a pied-billed grebe were swimming around in the area of the nest. A small heron of some sort also flew over my head (possibly an immature black-crowned night heron, but I'm not sure). Twice during the time that I was watching the osprey, I became the one who was being watched. A very curious mink was in the bushes next to me, and at one point sauntered right in front of me!
Sunday August 1
Sandra Metzger reports: Archibald has left the nest! When I got to Mountsberg this morning I saw both adults soaring over the reservoir. As usual, I headed into the Interpretive Centre to check the monitor, only to find that the camera is not working yet again (this camera doesn't seem to like thunder storms!) I grabbed the scope and headed down to the shore of the reservoir to check in on the osprey family. Duncan was on top of the nest pole with part of a fish in his talons, and Isabell was in the nest also with a piece of food, but Archi was nowhere to be seen. I used my binoculars to scan the area but failed to locate him. Isabell was vocalizing while she was in the nest, and I hoped that her behaviour would give me a clue as to Archibald's location. Twice Isabell flew south-east over the reservoir and then back to the nest, so I guessed that Archi may be off in that direction somewhere. I spent about 15 minutes walking south and scanning the shoreline and surrounding trees hoping to spot him but with no luck. I returned to my original observation point on the shore and found that Duncan was still sitting on top of the pole. He was looking quite relaxed, standing with one foot pulled up into his feathers.
I headed inside for a little while to see if I could figure out what was wrong with the camera, and to talk to some of my co-workers. Michelle Bartlett-Rozad reported that they had quite a wild storm there yesterday with lots of rain and lightning which is most likely responsible for the camera not working (as I said above, this camera doesn't seem to like storms, and has gone out during storms before). Jim Aikenhead reported that he went down to the shore yesterday late morning to check on Archi and at this point he was still in the nest, although he was standing on the edge flapping his wings, and at one point actually raised about a foot off of the nest. Jim then returned to the shoreline around 4:00 as the storm was letting up, and at that point both Isabell and Archi were at the nest. It is likely then that Archibald's first flight occurred sometime early this morning.
After about 20 minutes inside, I headed back down to the shore to once again see if I could locate Archi. After a few minutes of searching, Jim came to join me and together we watched Isabell soar over the reservoir, just over the nest pole and to the north of the pole. Duncan was still perched on the top of the pole just the same as when I had left him. At one point Isabell harassed a turkey vulture just to the north of the nest, then she went and perched on the nest. After a minute or so, she took off again and again went to bug the turkey vulture who was now sitting on a pole above the railway tracks (the tracks are north of the nest and run over a causeway which goes through the reservoir in an east-west direction). Isabell buzzed over the vulture's head then landed two poles away from it. I walked a little further out towards the edge of the water to take a good look at the vulture and Isabell and in the process scanned the other poles along the tracks. There sitting a few poles down from his mom was Archibald! It is quite likely that he was sitting there the whole time I had been looking for him, but because I usually observe from as far back as possible so as not to disturb the osprey, I was not able to see him from where I was standing when I did my initial scan of the area. Archi looked quite comfortable perched on top of his pole and was looking around and watching the water below him with great interest. It will be interesting to watch him and to see how far he strays from the general nest area and if he returns to the nest at night.
Friday July 30
Sandra Metzger reports: I called out to Mountsberg today to see if little Archi had decided to "fly the coop" yet. Kathy MacDonald reported that he was still in the nest and when she checked on him around 2:00 he and Duncan were in the nest enjoying lunch. Maybe later today or tomorrow will be the day (then again, maybe this little guy is so spoiled he doesn't plan on ever leaving!)
Thursday July 29
Sandra Metzger reports: When I arrived at Mountsberg this morning I saw one of the opsrey soaring over the lake - presumably Duncan out looking for breakfast. After watching the bird soar around for a bit I went inside to check the monitor to see how Archibald was doing. Much to my surprise, the nest appeared to be empty! I went into the office to grab the scope then went back to check the monitor one more time before running outside. When I checked the monitor this time, I could see Isabell standing in the middle of the nest and a second osprey standing just out of view on the edge of the nest. I assumed this to be Archi but since I couldn't know for sure I headed down to the shoreline to check things out. When I looked through the scope from the shore I could see that the whole family was now in the nest. Isabell was feeding Archi some fish for breakfast and Duncan was standing guard. I kept checking the monitor throughout the day to see if Archi had decided to take that first flight but apparently today was just not the day. We did notice throughout the day however that he was spending a lot of time standing on the edge of the nest - so far out in fact that at times he was almost, if not totally, out of view of the camera.
Wednesday July 28
Sandra Metzger reports: Archibald seems to have finally stopped growing! His feathers have all grown in nicely, turning him into a very handsome osprey "teenager". At one point this afternoon when I checked in on him he was standing in the nest with his wings outstretched. He would flap a little, but not nearly as much I had imagined he would be by this age. I also observed him feeding himself for the very first time today. He had a small hunk of fish which he was holding in his foot and tearing at with his beak.
Wednesday July 21
Sandra Metzger reports: There is not much new to report today. When I checked in on Archibald this morning he was lounging in the nest with one of the adults (Isabell I think, but the face was off camera) standing on the edge of the nest. Whenever I checked on him throughout the day he was either asleep or sitting in the nest. I am actually surprised that he is not more active. He is getting close to the age at which he should be taking his first flight, and when the peregrine chicks reach this stage they spend a lot of time flapping their wings in practice. I guess we'll just have to see what the next few days bring . . .
Monday July 19
Sandra Metzger reports: Archibald continues to grow like a little weed and is now quite large (I would guess that he is now almost, if not totally, full grown). His tail and wing feathers have all grown in. Despite his size and age (43 days old) he still is not very active. He still lets his mom feed him beak to beak like when he was a little chick. Over the past two days I have noticed however that Duncan and Isabell are not spending quite as much time on the nest with him as they used to.
As I have been been away from Mountsberg for the past week or so, I have been relying on my Mountsberg co-workers to observe the Osprey family for me. Jim Aikenhead, one of the program instructors at Mountsberg, has made some interesting observations. He reports that Archibald is spending much of his time facing towards the water and seems to be taking more of an interest in his surroundings. He has also observed Archi moving sticks from the centre to the edge of the nest. On one occasion last week Jim observed one of the adults standing on the edge of the nest facing into the wind with its wings outstretched (maybe as if to show Archibald what those large wings of his are really for?!?)
As of Sunday both of the eggs were still present in the nest (and although hard to tell, both seem to be intact).
Sunday July 11
Sandra Metzger reports: Archibald continues to grow noticeably, and no wonder with the way he eats. When I checked in on him today Isabell was feeding him from the back half of a fish while Duncan fed himself the front half of the fish. Although Archibald should be old enough to feed himself he still lets his mom tear off small pieces of food and feed him "beak to beak". At one point during the feeding, Isabell decided to have a bit of food herself, but Archibald decided he wanted the food, and tried to take it out of her mouth! He still spends a lot of time sleeping, but is also starting to spend more time standing and walking around the nest, and at one point made me quite nervous by standing right on the edge of the nest!
Thursday July 8
Sandra Metzger reports: On Tuesday evening (July 6) I was out at Mountsberg for a quick visit to check up on our Osprey family (and to help Mark fix the camera yet again). Archibald (as the chick is now named, again in honour of the Cameron family) continues to grow and change noticeably. He now has feathers covering his whole back and is taking up quite a bit of space in the nest (that would be one crowded nest right now if the other 2 eggs had hatched!) While Mark and I were watching, Isabell came in to the nest with a stick, which she proceeded to drop on Archibald's head! She then picked up the stick and placed it in the side of the nest.
Sunday July 4
Sandra Metzger reports: Once again, sorry for the lack of updates lately, but I have been spending as much time as possible at both the Etobicoke and Richmond Hill sites, and therefore have had little time to watch the Osprey family. The chick continues to grow by leaps and bounds and is now quite large. Like any typical baby, his favorite activities seem to be eating and sleeping as this is what he does for most of his day. He is becoming more mobile and is wandering around the nest more than ever before. We have noticed that Duncan and Isabell continue to bring in sticks and build up the sides of the nest, perhaps in an effort to keep their little guy from falling out of the nest. They both continue to spend a lot of time on the nest with him, either seperately or together. The chick is starting to grow in feathers on his tail,back and wings, and is even starting to look like a "real" osprey now with black markings on his face (be sure to check out the camera image - he's turning into a real cutey!). This morning I observed him stretching out his wings while standing in the nest. At almost a month old, he should soon be starting to show more of an interest in his wings (osprey are slower to develop than peregrines - he likely won't start flying until he is at least 50 days old).
Saturday June 26
Sandra Metzger reports: Not much has changed since the last update. The chick continues to grow noticeable and Dunacen and Isabell continue to faithfully feed him and care for him. Although both eggs are still in the nest, the adults are now completely ignoring them. When I checked the monitor this afternoon, the chick was doing his best to find some shade - usually one of the adults will stand over him to offer him some relief from the sun.
Sunday June 20
Sandra Metzger reports: Today was another routine day for the world's most watched Osprey family. Duncan brought in a fish at about 10:30. He shared some of this fish with Isabell and fed some of it to the chick, but most of it he ate himself. As I actually had quite a bit a time to watch the birds today (while chatting with visitors in the Mountsberg Interpretive Centre) I noticed a few things that I hadn't before. One thing that I started noticing yesterday is that whenever one of the parents is standing in the nest, the chick positions itself such that it is always in the adult's shadow (presumably for the shade it offers as there is no other shade on the nest until late afternoon/early evening when the sun starts getting lower in the sky).
Something I didn't realize until today is just how well the chick blends in with the nest. When I first checked the monitor this morning, it took me a couple seconds to locate him because he was sleeping and looked almost exactly like a stick surrounded by shadow (he is mostly a dark grey colour but has a light stripe down the middle of his back). I checked the image on the web tonight and realised just how hard he is to spot in that image on the web page (there is a chick in the nest, I promise!!! I'm sure he'll get much easier to see as he grows - which he is doing very quickly).
After I was done work (around 5:30) I took a scope down to the shore to take a look at the osprey from there. For the first half hour that I watched, Isabell was dozing on and off and the chick was only visible a few times as he moved around the nest. After about 45 minutes Duncan brought in quite a large fish which he shared with Isabell and the chick (Isabell fed the chick this time). During this feeding I got great looks at all three birds. The chick looks much bigger when viewed through the scope than when he is viewed through the camera (because the camera looks straight down into the nest it is hard to judge depth. The bowl of the nest is quite deep and this may be why he doesn't look as big.) I was also able to get a good look at his face and colouration. He is a somewhat homely looking little bird (although I must admit I think he's adorable). In shape, he reminds me somewhat of an eagle chick and his dark grey down is covered with small white dots on much of his chest and sides. Because Duncan and Isabell were standing side by side for several minutes I was also finally able to do a good comparison of them. Isabell is much larger and bulkier than Duncan is. She also has more black on her forehead and the back of her head than he does and she has some black markings on her breast (whereas his breast is almost completely white). As I was getting ready to leave, Duncan picked up a stick and moved it around the nest. Not to be outdone by his father, the chick picked up a tiny stick and moved it - the first time I've seen him do this!!
Saturday June 19
Sandra Metzger reports: Well, I must say I think our little friend has it made being an "only
chick". He certainly doesn't have to worry about not getting enough attention from Duncan and Isabell.
When I checked in on the birds at 9:00 a.m. Isabell was on the nest with the chick (Isabell looked wet - as though she had been fishing - and was preening herself). Shortly after, Duncan arrived and he and Isabell did some house keeping, moving sticks around and at one point dropping a stick on the chick's back! Now that the chick has hatched they seem to be spending much more time together on the nest. When I checked in a little later, I was finally able to observe a feeding. Duncan stood on the edge of the nest and watched intently while Isabell fed the chick and herself.
The chick has definitely grown since Wednesday when I last saw him and is much more mobile (although he spends an awful lot of time sleeping too! He's really cute when he sleeps - he often sprawls right out half on his side with one leg sticking out.) He is also spending less time covered up by mom - the only time I observed this was around 5:00.
Both Duncan and Isabell seem to have given up on the remaining two eggs. Once today I observed Isabell fusing with them, but they did not incubate them at all while I was watching.
Just before I left (around 6:00) I went down to the shore of the reservoir to watch the birds through my binoculars. I observed another feeding - the chick is now big enough that you can see his head above the rim of the nest when he reachs up to be fed.
Friday June 18
Marcel Gahbauer reports: After more complications than we care to recall, the Mountsberg Osprey Webcam is finally functional - click here to see the most recent picture. Because we are sharing a telephone line, the camera will only be updating the signal between 5 pm and 9 am (eastern time), however, the camera is infrared, so we will get a clear signal throughout the night.
Thursday June 17
Sandra Metzger reports: The camera is up and running again, and is giving us some good views of our new little addition to Mountsberg's osprey family. The chick has grown considerably in the past week and is looking strong and healthy. He no longer seems content to spend as much time covered up by his mom, and at one point yesterday I observed Isabell determindly try to cover him up, and he equally determined trying to escape. A compromise was reached with Isabell covering the eggs with her body, and the chick with her wing. He is standing more now, and is even managing to "walk" around the nest a bit. I haven't been able to observe a feeding yet, but I did see him with a bulging little crop yesterday so we know Duncan and Isabell are providing for him.
The other two eggs are still in the nest, and the adults (mostly Isabell) continue to incubate them, but not as faithfully as before the hatch. I observed quite a long stretch of time yesterday when both Duncan and Isabell were on the nest both feeding on a fish that Duncan had brought in, and both ignoring the eggs (and the chick - although he didn't act like he was very hungry and seemed content to let mom and dad have their turn to eat). It will be interesting to see how long it takes before the adults completely ignore the last two eggs (it is highly unlikely at this point that they will still hatch, and unfortunately, unlike the peregrine nest sites, there is no easy way to access this nest, so the chick will likely not be banded and we will not be able to retreive the eggs)
Tuesday June 8
Marcel Gahbauer reports: Good news and bad news from Mountsberg today. On the positive side, there has been a hatch! Sandra Metzger reports that yesterday morning Isabell stood back from the eggs to reveal one scrawny chick trying its best to stand up beside the two remaining eggs. Over the course of the day, there were many opportunities to see the chick, and at one point Duncan was observed feeding the chick while Isabell stood to the side and watched.
Unfortunately, the camera went dead yesterday afternoon. A severe storm passed through the area, with heavy rain and high winds. The power went out at the Mountsberg Visitor Centre, but when the electricity came back on, the camera remained off. We tried today to diagnose the problem, but were unable to determine whether the problem is with the camera itself, the receiver at the Visitor Centre, or somewhere in between. We are investigating, and hope that a simple solution can be found. In the meantime, we are literally in the dark with respect to what is happening at the nest. The second and third chicks could hatch at any time - hopefully the camera will be fixed soon, and will allow us to confirm this.
Monday June 7
Sandra Metzger reports: First of all, let me apologize for the lack of updates lately, but until the end of this week there was not much new to report. Friday June 4th brought a bit of excitement into the routine incubation of Duncan and Isabell. Around 2:30 in the afternoon, Duncan was incubating and Isabell was sitting on top of the pole looking around (she could not be seen directly, but her shadow could be). Duncan began to vocalize at something and stood up. About the same time, Isabell flew off the top of the pole and landed on the nest. Duncan and Isabell changed places with Isabell sitting on the eggs and Duncan standing on the edge of the nest seeming agitated about something. It wasn't long until we were able to see what it was that was upsetting him - a third osprey landed on the nest! Isabell continued incubating with her back turned to the interloper, apparently unconcerned about this visitor on her nest. Duncan stared at the osprey for a little bit, seemingly unsure of what to do, then he and the stranger squabbled and the third party flew off. The bird didn't go far though, and very soon it tried to land on the nest again, however this time Duncan wouldn't let it. The osprey then flew up to the top of the pole, from where Duncan chased it off a third time. This time it seemed that the interloper was chased off for good, but just to make sure Duncan perched on top of the pole for a minute or so to keep watch. Apparently this osprey was either stubborn or curious, because around 4:30, while Duncan and Isabell were both on the nest, an osprey was again seen flying over and around the nest for a few minutes but this time it did not land. I was not able to see the third osprey's face and do not know if it was a male or a female, but comparing it's size to Duncan and Isabell, I would guess it was likely a female.
Throughout the weekend Duncan and Isabell continued to faithfully incubate their eggs, with both of them still acting reluctant to get off the eggs when it comes time to do a shift change (maybe incubating is more fun than it looks!) Both also continue to do a fair bit of "housekeeping" while on the eggs, routinely pushing little sticks about the nest with their beaks. A few times this weekend I was able to see all three eggs still present in the nest. We are all anxiously awaiting hatch day, which hopefully will be any day now!
Monday May 24
Sandra Metzger reports: It was another fairly typical day for Isabell and Duncan today. Isabell looked a little wet when I checked in on her first thing this morning. The log seems to be gone from the nest (I guess Isabell finally got sick of it!) although it looks as though several other fairly large sticks have been added to the nest since I last looked at it on Friday. Shortly after lunch, one of our visitors reported to me that he had just observed the male bring a few more sticks up to the nest. Mid-afternoon I observed Duncan bring in half a fish for Isabell. She ate a few pieces in the nest then took off and let Duncan take over incubating duties. She must not have been gone long though because when I checked the monitor about half an hour later it was Isabell who was on the nest.
Wednesday May 19
Marcel Gahbauer reports: A series of photos from last week are now up in the photo gallery, clearly showing the bloody prey which Duncan brought back to the nest.
Saturday May 15
Mark Nash reports: I spent a few hours at Mountsberg this afternoon trying (unsuccessfully) to hook up a VCR so that the osprey footage can be taped. During this period, Duncan and Isabell had very frequent shift changes - they each stayed on the nest for an average of 45 to 50 minutes before letting the other take a turn again.
There seems to be quite a domestic dispute growing with respect to the log that Duncan brought in yesterday. Each time he was at the nest, he nudged it in toward the centre of the nest, while Isabell repeatedly pushed it away. He seems to be convinced that he has found an essential piece of architecture for his nest, while she is equally adamant that it has no place there. It will be interesting to see how long this argument will last, and who will prevail.
Friday May 14
Sandra Metzger reports: Shortly before noon today, Duncan arrived at the nest carrying a remarkably big "log" - much thicker than any of the other sticks in the nest, and quite long. It must have been quite a heavy piece for him to carry up. Isabell didn't seem impressed, and Duncan stayed up there for a couple of minutes fussing with the new log until the shift change took place.
Later in the afternoon, just before 5 pm, Duncan was back rearranging the nest material, and for a while he was literally standing right over Isabell. Eventually she stood up and sat back down on the eggs, and after a few minutes Duncan left.
Thursday May 13
Mark Nash reports: Yesterday night I stayed at Mountsberg watching the ospreys for several hours until after 8 pm. Isabell was on the nest for most of this time, but Duncan did put in a couple of appearances. Most notably, around 7:45 he flew past with something very red in his talons - surprising, since most fish don't bleed red. He dropped this off at the nest, then returned a few minutes later and he and Isabell dined together at the nest. Several snapshots from this encounter are up in the photo gallery.
Wednesday May 12
Marcel Gahbauer reports: This afternoon I was among the lucky few who had a chance to observe a shift change on the osprey nest via the monitor at the visitor's centre. Duncan was on the nest incubating, facing more or less south. Isabell then landed on top of the pole, above the camera - we could only tell she was there by seeing her shadow on the nest below. She soon hopped down to the edge of the platform, and stood beside Duncan, and seemed to be rearranging a few sticks slightly. She then went to stand beside Duncan, and turned her body perpendicular to his. Isabell leaned over Duncan's back, and then seemed to nudge him in the side with one of her legs. It was only after this that he reluctantly began to get up. Before he was even standing fully upright, Isabell had already started moving into position, and as a result, we never got a clear look at the eggs - only a split second glimpse during which I spotted two of the three in the nest.
Interestingly, the behaviour described above, of Isabell having to encourage Duncan to get off the nest, was also observed by Mountsberg staff this past weekend. This is not unlike what we often observe at peregrine nests, where the female returns to the nest and forces the male off. It will be interesting to see how Duncan approaches Isabell when he wants to take over, and to compare this to peregrine behaviour.
Friday May 7
Mark Nash reports: Late this morning Sandra Metzger was watching the monitor at Mountsberg and observed a shift-change taking place. During the brief period when both birds were off the nest, three eggs were clearly visible in the nest. The typical incubation period of ospreys is 34 to 40 days, so the eggs are expected to start hatching between June 1 and June 7.
The adult ospreys have now been named, in honour of the Cameron family who owned the land which is now Mountsberg Conservation Area, and donated it to the Halton Region Conservation Authority to allow for the creation of the park. The male osprey is named Duncan, named after landowner Duncan Cameron (and his son, also named Duncan), and the female will be known as Isabell, in honour of his daughter.
Marcel Gahbauer reports: When I arrived at Mountsberg yesterday morning, I initially thought the osprey was away from the nest, because all I could see was sticks. However, upon looking more closely, I saw that a few dark tail feathers were sticking up over the north end of the nest. The ospreys have added more sticks to the nest in the past week, making it possible for the adults to be almost hidden from sight when they are low down over the eggs.
Over the course of the day, Mark Nash, Bruce Massey, Sandra Metzger, Ivan from Orillia, and I observed the adults changing places at the nest a few times. These exchanges are generally very brief - the two birds are seldom at the nest together for for than a few moments, and the eggs are never left unattended for long.
We were all at Mountsberg yesterday to get the camera connected and producing a signal. The camera itself had been placed on the pole above the osprey nest earlier this spring, but to this point had not been connected to anything. Ivan spent several hours using a "Ditch Witch" to dig a 300-metre long trench from the shoreline of the reservoir to the Mountsberg Visitor's Centre, so that we could install cables to connect the camera to the power supply and video monitor in the building.
After we spent most of the evening getting all of the wiring properly connected, the system was ready to be tested. At one minute past midnight, the television was turned on, and a beautiful picture of the female osprey sitting on the nest came up on the screen. (Note - we haven't suddenly moved to the land of the midnight sun - the Osprey Cam is an infrared camera, enabling us to watch the osprey equally well during the day and night).
Having spent the past ten hours working to get the camera broadcasting, everyone was very relieved to see that it was functioning as expected. Mark, Bruce, Sandra, and Ivan watched the osprey on the monitor until almost 2 am, and were surprised to see how active the female was in the middle of the night. Several times she adjusted her position, and twice an egg was visible. On one of these occasions she was also making a motion with her head as if pushing another egg under her, so we believe that there are at least two eggs in the nest.
We hope to soon bring the Osprey Cam live to the web (via the link near the top of this page). However, before we can do this we require a phone line to be installed at the Mountsberg Visitor's Centre for the computer to transmit the signal. Unfortunately, there is currently a Bell telephone strike underway, and it could easily be several weeks until anyone is available to install our phone line. In the meantime, the only way to see the image is to visit Mountsberg and watch the action live on the video monitor in the Visitor's Centre (for directions to Mountsberg, see the bottom of this page).
Thursday April 29
Sandra Metzger reports: Both birds were standing in the nest bowl at ~8:45 am. At ~5:30 pm I observed the female(?) *sitting* in the bowl. About 5 minutes later, the male flew in, landing on top of the pole for about 30 seconds before dropping down to the nest. As soon as he was on the bowl, the female got up and flew off. He then took the spot where she had been, fussed at something on the floor of the bowl with his beak then sat down with the little body shuffle they do when sitting on eggs. This whole behaviour looked to me like a "changing of the guards" so I'm pretty sure we now have eggs. Unfortunately no one was observing them earlier in this week, but we suspect the egg(s) was/were just laid in the past couple of days, as today was the first time the incubation behaviour has been noticed.
When both birds are seen together, it is easy to tell them apart as the female is quite a bit larger than the male. From what I have been able to see, the female seems to have more of a "necklace" than the male (although I was confused today, as based on size I was pretty sure it was the male who came in to take over incubating duties, but when I got a good look at him(?) he looked like he had a necklace). I can't wait to get the camera operational, so I can get a good look at "my" osprey, and see if we do indeed have eggs, and how many!
Sunday April 25
Sandra Metzger reports: The male was on top of the pole when I arrived at ~5:30, but flew off shortly after I got there. The female was standing in the bowl with a nice full crop, and spent some time re-arranging sticks in the nest.
Thursday April 22
Sandra Metzger reports: Both birds were observed at the nest over the past four days - usually one would perch on the top of the pole while the other would perch on the edge of the nest bowl or would stand in the bowl. They were most often observed in the morning and late afternoon, with both of them normally being gone from the nest in the middle of the day.
Sunday April 18
Sandra Metzger reports: Around 8 am the male was observed bringing sticks to the nest; around 8:30 am the female was observed up on the nest for the first time (she was on the nest with the male, so this is my first confirmed sighting of two osprey this year).
Saturday April 17
Marcel Gahbauer reports: During a brief visit to Mountsberg this morning I spotted the male Osprey on the nest. It stood in the same position for nearly half an hour, facing south, and occasionally bending down to pick at things in the nest. It looked to me like it may have been rearranging some of the sticks (i.e. doing some housekeeping in hope of attracting a mate...)
Friday April 9
Sandra Metzger reports: Mark Nash spotted the male Osprey around the nest site this afternoon. This was the first osprey sighting of the year.
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