On Thursday the chick from Nest 1 was ringed by Kielder’s ornithologist. A special licence is needed to take chicks from their nest and the ringing is a smooth and quick process. The parents are never thrilled about the removal of their young one and they flew overhead, calling to the chick to ‘play dead’. This is helpful as by not struggling the stress of the process is minimised. A draw enabled a lucky member of staff from Kielder Castle to witness the event. She was struck how calm the chick seemed, as well as by its magnificence. It is on the heavy side and has thick legs; these are indicators it could be female but, especially with no other chick for comparison, this is not a certainty. Whatever sex, the chick can be identified by the blue ring HO, so get the binoculars ready!

Martin the ornothologist shows the chick’s impressive wing span.
(c) Richard Darn

The chick really does look stunning as you can see by clicking on the photo. More feather growth is necessary before it will fly; this year the wet weather has impeded the normal cracking of  sheaths over ospreys’ feathers at nests throughout the UK. Most years they flake away. You can see the tail feathers have some way to go before they are properly expanded. The talons look pretty effective fishing tools already. As soon as the bird masters flying it will need to learn how to catch fish, although the parents will still feed it at first.

The photo below shows both the orange eyes of a chick and the buff ends to the feathers. The eyes fade to pale yellow and the feather tips lose the buff edges as the bird matures.

Great views of the feathers and eye colour. (c) Richard Darn

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2 Responses to HO, HO!

  1. David Erskine says:

    Why is it that the wet weather has stopped the folicle flake from the feather quill in the tail and not also the wings

  2. joannadailey says:

    The wing feathers probably were affected, but the development of the tail feathers looked markedly more retarded at the time of ringing on all three of our chicks. Other websites have mentioned the impact of the wet weather on the (non) flaking away, for example the Loch of the Lowes and the Lake District Ospreywatch. The latter specifically commented on the tail feathers too.

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