Update on Okoboji osprey

Friday, June 17, 2016
Adult osprey make sure everything is safe for their three offspring. (Photo by Kiley Roth)

I hadn't checked in on the Okoboji osprey in several days, so I decided to log in to the live web camera to see how the little mama was doing with her three eggs.

It had been about 35 days since she laid her first speckled brown and white egg on the towering nest in Kenue Park, and she endured rain, wind and plenty of sun while she protected her three eggs.

The mama was sitting tight when I saw her on the web camera, and every once in a while she would bend her head down beneath her and roll the eggs around. Little did I know, she was feeling some movement in there.

The mama was sitting tight when I saw her on the web camera, and every once in a while she would bend her head down beneath her and roll the eggs around.

The female got up as her mate's stick got in the way, and that's when I got a glimpse -- a half-open egg. I shrieked and pointed to the screen so our volunteer for the day would look too as a little naked bird tumbled out of the cracked egg shell.

Mama and daddy osprey didn't look overly impressed and didn't pay much attention to it, but the female eventually used her beak to nudge the new chick into the nest and then picked up the empty shell and tossed it off to the side.

My eyes now glued to the screen, I continued to watch for glimpses of the new baby staying warm under its mother's body. I told every visitor that came into the nature center what happened, and I'm sure they laughed at my over-the-top enthusiasm. I was just in awe the entire day that I had seen such a tiny miracle happen.

By the next Tuesday, all three of the chicks had hatched. An obvious size difference between the first chick and the last was already evident, and the first chick fought much harder for the pieces mom tore off from the fish dad brought to the nest.

A week later, and the size difference between the osprey chicks is even more apparent. The first two chicks are quite larger and already developing small feathers, whereas the last chick is a still small and covered in down. The staff and volunteers at the nature center cheer it on when feeding time comes, and it seems to be holding its own next to its siblings.

It takes about 55 days for osprey to grow and finally fledge -- fly from the nest -- and we will watch carefully in hopes that all three chicks will mature and gain strength.

Once you start watching the osprey, it sucks you in. You will intend to take a quick look online and then a half hour later realize you've been engrossed in what the little family is doing. It's a peek into a wild world that we don't often get to experience.

Check it out for yourself at www.dickinsoncountynaturecenter.com and click on the live web cam link. You can also learn more about these wonderful creatures in the Okoboji Osprey exhibit at the Dickinson County Nature Center, open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 712-336-6352 or follow the nature center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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