Thursday December 18, 2014; 08:00 am EST
Week 9, 10, and 11
Week 9: The Season of Sitting
Olivia continues her perseverance. Oliver continues his vigilance. He visits her often and sits at her side and brings her fish to eat. Livie stands up every so often to rearrange the eggs so that they are uniformly heated and to stretch her wings. And the long days continue.
We had high winds on Sunday. Oliver could not stay on the nest with Olivia, or even on any nearby piling. But Livie stayed scrunched down deep in her nest, not even eating until evening when the wind died down. Luckily, the nest held, and all is well.
-Meanwhile, I can’t use my front door for a while. A robin built her nest in a five-foot-high trimmed shrub just to the side of the door to my front porch. When I open the door, it almost touches her nest, and she goes screaming off to my birch tree and keeps yammering as long as I’m in sight. I call her Rosie.
In the nest are two tiny eggs of the most beautiful blue that exists on earth. No one knows why robins lay blue eggs; it’s a mystery not yet solved. The egg is colored as it passes through the oviduct. But why? It certainly isn’t a form of camouflage.
So now I come and go through the back door so as to limit the time Rosie has to be off her eggs. She must have a mate, but I haven’t spotted him.
The mallard madness has finally quieted down. All the girls are sitting. The bachelors now hang around in twos and threes, spending long hours sitting in the shade and, I assume, bragging about their conquests.
Week 10: Dangers Lurk
The long wait goes on. Day follows day. For the most part, the routine remains the same for the osprey. Oliver also continues to bring twigs to repair and maintain the nest, for Cobb Island has suffered more than the normal numbers of days of high winds this spring.
Meanwhile, Rosie the Robin hatched two chicks, and she and her mate were busy each day trying to fill two gaping mouths with bugs and worms. I still came and went by way of the back door. After a couple of days, I noticed no robin activity. When I looked in the nest, the babies were gone. Since they weren’t yet capable of flight, it could only mean that something got to them: a cat or crow or even a blue jay. As for Rosie and her mate, they might now be any of the number of robins that visit my yard each day. They are no longer parents. Dangers lurk for all babies. Reaching adulthood, in all species, is a fortunate achievement.
Week 11: The Parenting Partnership
At least two more weeks to go before we can expect the Osprey’s blessed event. Olivia continues her patient role of mother-to-be. Rain or shine, she’s committed to her duty, 24/7. Ollie is always nearby, to bring her food, keep the nest maintained and provide protection. He also often takes over for her sitting on the eggs, letting Olivia stretch her wings a bit and preen. His role is prescribed, as is hers, and he is carrying it out.
When the osprey hatchlings finally appear, then the really arduous work will begin for our twosome: feeding them, protecting them, teaching them to recognize danger, instructing them to fly and obtain food and developing in them the aptitude for self-sufficiency.
Not very different from human parents, if at all.
Thus continues Michael Koblos’ 26-week saga of the doings of his nearest osprey family. A 78-year-old retired naval officer, Koblos lives in a small cottage on the water, Home Port, in a place called Cobb Island, located in the wide Potomac River about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C.