Expectant mother puts up with firecrackers, bird lovers await news of chicks birth | SteamboatToday.com

Expectant mother puts up with firecrackers, bird lovers await news of chicks birth

People who spied what appeared to be a large hawk with black and white markings beneath its wings circling over the town stretch of the Yampa River over the long July Fourth holiday were likely seeing a male osprey hunting for fish.

A pair of ospreys, presumed to be the same couple that occupied the nest across the river trail from the Yampa River Botanic Park in 2016, made their appearance again this year on a nesting stand April 7. But osprey enthusiasts are still waiting for news of Steamboat's second family of hatchlings. A trio of chicks hatched here last year.

Botanic Park co-founder Bob Enever, who funded the nesting platform, is pessimistic about the chances for new baby ospreys in 2017 because the parents arrived and nested two months earlier than in 2016, with nothing to show for their efforts thus far. But Medicine Bow Routt National Forest wildlife biologist Missy Dressen said this week, it's too soon to give up hope, and she expects the chicks to hatch soon.

"The story so far this year is disappointing," Enever wrote in an e-mail. "The couple came back.. They were two weeks earlier than last year, so we should be seeing chicks by now, but so far no chicks have appeared. She just sits on the nest hoping."

However, Dressen was encouraged after making a special trip to visit the nesting site July 5.  After observing the female on the nest through a spotting scope, Dressen was confident the female osprey was caring for what are likely viable eggs, and they will soon hatch.

"She seemed to be very focused on incubating and still sitting low on the nest, even though it was very hot and bugs were bothering her,” Dressen said. “She was vigorously panting but intent on staying on the eggs. I saw her switch positions a few times.

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“She did startle and switch positions when a firecracker went off,” Dressen explained. “I can't imagine how rough it was for her with Fourth of July fireworks. With all the noise from Fourth of July (she endured) and how intent she was on staying on the nest, I believe the eggs are about to hatch."

Dressen acknowledged that osprey chicks typically hatch five to six weeks after they are laid — and in the same order they were laid. But in this case, she said, it's possible the female osprey is sitting on a second clutch.

Based on her research and observations of the female on the nest, Dressen said osprey will lay a second clutch of eggs about three weeks after the failure of the first one.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Steamboat’s favorite mating couple

Yampa River Botanic Park co-founder Bob Enever’s enthusiasm for the osprey families of the Yampa Valley is so great he has self-published a heavily-illustrated book through Create Space,
“Steamboat’s Osprey Family 2016,” about the pair of ospreys that raised a family here in 2016.

The book relies heavily on Enever’s own photographs, which are of professional quality, and a few contributions by local photographers Jeff Morehead and Jeff Welton. Each photograph is paired on the opposite page with short essays about the birds’ natural history and behavior.

“Steamboat’s Osprey Family” was completed in early December 2016, but Enever did not have time to print enough books to satisfy the demand over the holidays, and only a handful of copies were available last year.

This spring he has an ample supply of the softcover books and is selling them at cost — for $18 at Off the Beaten Path bookstore, 68 Ninth St., as well as for $17 on Amazon.

Steamboat author Bob Enever’s book about a familyosprey chicks raised in Steamboat is widely available in the summer of 2017 after a finite number of copies were self-published in December 2016.