Osprey Diary: Transition time

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I was sitting on the nest like any other day when I felt it.

Tap, tap, tap.

A soft rhythm was coming from inside one of my brown speckled eggs.

Tap, tap, tap.

It was time. I had done my job and the babies were ready to break out of their shells and meet us for the first time.

Time has flown by. It’s been a week, and we now have healthy chicks.

We’ve done it before, but summer is always a period of transitions for us. After we separate each fall, we both fly south to our respective wintering sites. I love Central America. My husband loves South America. We bask in the sun, eat fresh fish and just recuperate after a busy breeding season.

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Then there’s the transition of returning to Okoboji. It’s a long flight north, and the weather is unpredictable when we arrive. We spend so much time building the nest and getting to know each other again that those first few weeks fly by. Soon, we transition into our incubating time when I lay eggs and sit on them. I have to rely on my husband for food and protection during the vulnerable, and boring, weeks.

Now, we’ve transitioned into parenthood once again. Our fuzzy chicks are either sleeping, eating or bobbing their heads up and down to try to get a look at the world through the sticks that line the edge of the nest for protection. It’s a little easier because I can fly a bit, but it’s also exhausting as we care for the chicks, keep a sharp eye out for predators and cut up their food with our beaks before giving them fish.

Summer is about transition. Pretty soon they will get feathers. Then they’ll want to fly. Then summer will be over and they will leave us to head south.

I have to remember that although transition is hard, I’ll miss them when they’re gone. I had better treasure this transitioning period while it’s here.

Although the osprey nest camera broke in a storm a few weeks ago, you can still watch them from a distance with our live camera mounted on the Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji. Check out the live video feed here.

Measure your wingspan

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An osprey’s average wingspan is about 70 inches. Lay a tape measure out on the floor to 70 inches and then have your children lay down next to it.

How long are each of your wingspans compared to an osprey?

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