STEVENSVILLE — Chesapeake Conservancy announced Friday, April 17, the osprey known as Audrey had laid her first egg of the 2020 season. Tom and Audrey, who nest each year at the home of “The Crazy Osprey Family” on Kent Island, are the stars of the organization’s osprey cam.
Chesapeake Conservancy reported the osprey season began not with Tom and Audrey, but with an unknown female osprey visitor, who began visiting the nest in mid-March.
The Crazy Osprey Family Blog reported, “Upon closer observation, it became quite obvious very early on that this was not our Audrey. Although she had Audrey eye markings, her chest had a heavy necklace and she had a buff patch on the back of her neck like Tom.”
The blog continued, “The plot thickened when a male osprey showed up, and looked very much like Tom. To add to the intrigue, they did the osprey deed (if you have to ask, you don’t need to know).”
After some deliberation and confirmation, Audrey officially returned March 20 to much fanfare and applause, the Conservancy said.
“... a great aerial battle ensued. After the Showdown At The OK Corral (osprey style), our lovely Audrey reclaimed her rightful place at the platform. The Visiting Lady has not been seen since. There are a multitude of platforms and other man made nesting sites available in our immediate area, so VL and her Tom impersonator have probably set up housekeeping nearby,” the blog stated.
Tom returned several days later on March 29. With Tom back, nest building began in earnest, the blog said.
Following reconstruction of their nest, Audrey laid her first egg at 1:20 p.m. April 17. Audrey has typically laid three or four eggs in a season, so we’re expecting more eggs soon, the Conservancy wrote.
In 2019, Audrey returned to Kent Island March 18 and Tom a week later. The osprey couple began to rebuild their nest following their reunion. Audrey laid her first egg on April 14 at 2:04 a.m., her second egg on April 16 at 11:05 p.m. and her third and final egg of 2019 on April 19 at 11:40 p.m.
After 40 days, the first egg hatched on May 24 at 9:44 a.m. One of the other eggs became cracked on May 26 at 8:25 a.m. and was deemed non-viable. The third and last egg was also determined to be a failure and non-viable on June 7. An egg is determined as a failure for a variety of reasons. It may not have been properly fertilized, development may have stopped due to bacterial infections due to hairline cracks in the shell, or it may have been cracked at an earlier time., Chesapeake Conservancy explained.
After the annual public bird-naming contest, the lone osprey chick was named Lil Bit on July 12. Lil Bit then fledged on July 17 at 9:08 a.m. On July 29 around 3 p.m., another osprey fledgling landed on the nest. This lone fledgling may have been from a nearby nest and didn’t return home. The additional osprey chick was named Archie (the runner-up name in the bird-naming contest) and resided at the nest until the end of the season.
Audrey was last seen at the nest on Aug. 24, while Archie’s last verified visit was on Sept. 4, followed by Lil Bit on Sept. 10. Tom’s last verified visit in the 2019 season was Sept. 21 at 10:20 a.m.
For more on Tom and Audrey and the Chesapeake Conservancy, check out the osprey cam at chesapeakeconservancy.org.
To go directly to the osprey cam site, go to https://chesapeakeconservancy.org/what-we-do/explore/wildlife-webcams/osprey/. You can also read about the latest news from Tom and Audrey’s nest with the Crazy Osprey Family’s blog, also accessible from the Conservancy site.