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Observations & Images
9 March 2007
day 21 of incubation (approximate)

The male Osprey takes his turn incubating the eggs. He has nowhere near the patience of the female to be able to sit uncomplaining on the eggs for hours like she does. He is only good for about twenty minutes or so before he starts crying out for his mate to return and relieve him.
Given the female Osprey's unkempt appearance she needs a little extra time off the nest.
As observed last season, as the long days of incubation piled up the female began to look worse for wear and spent most of her time off the nest preening.
Christopher Leahy in The Birdwatcher's Companion: An Encyclopedic Handbook of North American Birdlife writes that many parasites live in the nest to assail both adults and nestlings.
He continues that "....birds are not totally defenseless. Preening appears to be crucial, and birds unable to preen through some disability are more vulnerable to parasites. Practices such as dusting, smoke bathing, sunning, and anting may be, at least in part, methods of pest control."
The female hopped around to four different perches while off the nest.
At each new perch she would vigorously scratch the top of her head.
Eventually she landed back in the nest and within seconds the male made good his escape by taking wing to leave his nest duties behind. Note the feather in the air at lower left which has come off the male.


A Red-Shouldered Hawk was also dealing with an itchy head. The bird spent a good deal of time preening.
In between preening there were moments of imperial beauty.
The hawk's calm repose was broken by the sudden appearance of another Red-Shouldered Hawk landing in the branches above.
The new arrival had an uncertain grasp on the branches.
As the second hawk tried to maintain its balance in the swaying branches, the first hawk seemed unperturbed by the close proximity of another raptor.
The second bird finally gave up trying to keep its balance on the small branches and flew off which gained the attention of the first hawk who watched the departure.
After a few moments the first hawk took wing and followed the second Red-Shoulder. Both birds were lost to sight as they flew past the tree line. The possibility exists this is a pair who may have a nest somewhere in the Refuge.
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OspreyWatch by Bob Montanaro
www.lunarcabin.com - - - - www.ospreywatch.org