Bay Journal

Tom & Audrey

  • By Kathleen Gaskell on June 08, 2013
Tom, left, and Audrey sit on their nest during the early days of its construction. Audrey does most of the incubating and her larger size helps her guard the nest as well as keep her eggs and chicks warm. Tom helps to incubate, but for the most part he is in the air, scanning the water for food to feed his family or patrolling the skies to keep away any other birds, especially eagles, that might pose a threat to Audrey or their nestlings. These tasks are more easily accomplished with a smaller, lighter body. (Chesapeake Conservancy) Audrey shows off her clutch.  (Chesapeake Conservancy)

The Chesapeake's latest reality stars are ospreys Tom & Audrey — until their chicks hatch and steal the show! If you haven't already, visit www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/Osprey-Cam, where the Chesapeake Conservancy's Osprey Cam has been offering a 24/7 look at the nest-building and egg-laying action at Tom & Audrey's nest site on a platform in the vicinity of Kent Island, MD. Also at the site is a link to a blog about ospreys, and Tom and Audrey in particular. All of the answers to this quiz are found at the site or the blog (or on page 31.)

1. True or False? Ospreys usually mate for life.

2. Tom & Audrey return to this nest site every year. This is remarkable because:
A. They do not migrate together.
B. There are not many fish in this part of the Bay.
C. Most osprey build a nest at a different site each year.
D. The site does not have a wonderful view.

3. The average number of eggs in a nest (called a clutch size) for ospreys is 2–4. How many eggs did Audrey lay this year? Hint: Look to the left.

4. What color are Tom and Audrey's eggs?
A. Sky blue & Purple
B. Cinnamon & Cream
C. Olive Green
D. Orangey-yellow

5. What size is an osprey egg?
A. Much smaller than a chicken egg
B. About the size of a jumbo chicken egg
C. Much larger than a chicken egg

6. Audrey's first egg was spotted April 17. Most eggs hatch 37–38 days after being laid. Is this incubation period shorter or longer than that of the bald eagle?

7. Once the eggs have hatched, how many weeks will it take until the osprey chicks are ready to fly?
A. 4–5 weeks
B. 5–6 weeks
C. 6–7 weeks
D. 7–8 weeks

8. Nature can be cruel. Sometimes an egg does not hatch. Other times, the egg hatches, but the chick will not survive. Which chicks in the clutch usually have the best survival rate?
A. The first to hatch because they are larger and able to push their younger siblings out of the way at feeding time.
B. The last to hatch, because in nature, mamas always look after the littlest ones.
C. When the chicks hatch has no bearing on the survival rate.

9. You can usually tell which way the wind is blowing by looking at the parent sitting on the nest. Why?
A. It is sitting with its face to the wind.
B. The wind is blowing on its back.

Answers

1. True
2. A – Four eggs in a nest is a sign that fish are plentiful; osprey, as a rule, return to the same nest site each year; and c'mon, it's the Chesapeake, all of the views are wonderful!
3. Four: They were laid between April 17 & 25.
4. B – Osprey eggs can also be brown, or cream with swirls and dots in shades of brown.
5. B
6. Longer. Bald eagles take about 35 days to hatch.
7. D
8. A
9. A.

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About Kathleen Gaskell

Kathleen A. Gaskell, the layout & design editor for the Bay Journal, has been involved with several environmental programs for children.

Read more articles by Kathleen Gaskell

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