Flight of a Fledgling

One of the really grand birds we have during the summer is the osprey. Also known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, they are big, strong flyers that feed almost exclusively on fish. Here at the Inn we have a nesting pair within sight of our deck. Perhaps you have seen a Rhode Island osprey nest—they are large stick constructions, typically atop of a phone pole or a purpose-built nesting platform.

In our area, ospreys begin arriving in early April. Ospreys typically mate for life and produce a clutch of two or three eggs per season. Chicks hatch in early June and quickly start crying out for food. During our July outings we often see chicks flapping their wings and stretching their growing bodies, while mom and dad work double shifts to keep up with the insatiable appetites.

By mid August the young ospreys are close to full body weight and ready to fledge. This past year one of our tour boat groups watched the first clumsy flight of a fledgling as it circled the nest and then tried to land on a branch much too light for its weight. Over the following weeks the young ospreys will work out the details of flight and learn essential survival skills.

Come September or early October, individuals will start heading south. If they are fortunate, the north winds of autumn will provide a tail wind and sweep them along their way. Based on data from satellite tracking we know that ospreys nesting in our area migrate along the East Coast to the Florida Keys, and then island hop to South America.

This spring or summer, when our osprey population returns to their Rhode Island osprey nests, why not come and stay at the Inn? Our Naturalist will be happy to point out the nesting birds and their growing chicks, along with a wide variety of other fine birds.