Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hellgate Osprey Fledging!

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Hellgate osprey are fledging!  Yesterday at about 7:30am CDT, the 53-day-old chick (wearing band #72) circled briefly and then returned to the nest but that's enough to qualify as having fledged.  Watch the video here
This morning (Tuesday) if you are an early riser, the chick made yet another short flight!  The remaining chicks' heads swiveled around so viewers could follow the progress! 
Here are some screen shots from this morning; band #72 seems to be ready to try another flight.  They all three were flapping their wings, then #72 took off! 

Another successful flight and return! 
The Hellgate Osprey nest has seen its share of drama this year, with powerful thunderstorms, a missing mate, and the dramatic rescue of a chick that got tangled in fishing line. Last year's Hellgate Osprey chick fledged at 61 days post-hatch, so today's fledge by #72 is over a week earlier. The other two chicks are 55 and 50 days old.

The Project Osprey scientists banded the three Hellgate nestlings on July 25, and they now sport an aluminum band with a unique number as well as a blue plastic band to make the birds easier to identify from afar with optics. After receiving their "bracelets," the researchers measured the young birds and took small blood and feather samples. Finally, the chicks were returned to the nest and spritzed with water to cool them off. By analyzing the samples from the Hellgate Ospreys and hundreds of other nests in the region, the researchers will learn about the presence of environmental contaminants such as mercury and arsenic.

1 comment:

  1. Hellgate is probably the one of the best Osprey shows on the Web, hands down, and the researchers are very attentive and accomodating. However the band "bracelets" as you call them could well end up being that Osprey's undoing. The aluminum band "sparkles" at night, making an easy target for a night hunting predator Great Horned Owl. Shiny, bright colored objects will alert a fish to dart away before a talon reaches it, denying the Osprey what may have been a vital meal. I hope that researchers think it through a bit more before getting excited about applying "bracelets" to any wild bird.