Baby Bailey, the last remaining Osprey chick of Hog Island nest-cam stars Rachel and Steve, just can’t seem to catch a break.
After being tormented by a predatory Great Horned Owl twice in the past two weeks, the family needed some time to rest and recoup. But a smaller winged intruder recently took up residence very close to home. Recently, sharp-eyed viewers of the explore.org live feed from Hog Island, Maine, discovered that wasps had built their colony right in the Ospreys’ nest. On Saturday, the stinging horde grew too much for the two-month-old Bailey. In the clip above, the chick whips its head and scratches at its face as it's surrounded by insects. Finally, around 2:38, it leaps off the platform, plunging 35 feet down to the ground and out of sight of the camera. The bird was found unharmed: It was able to break its fall by using its wings—a skill that many growing avians share.
Bailey's daring dive was just the start of an eventful weekend. As the vulnerable chick flopped around, it was whisked away by Eric Snyder, Hog Island facilities manager and seasoned raptor rescuer, to a second nesting site on the mainland. Snyder built the alternate “boathouse platform” last year to create a local Osprey network that could help Rachel and Steve defend against Bald Eagle attacks. Another pair nested there earlier this season, but they went M.I.A. after their sole egg failed to hatch. Relocating Bailey to the boathouse would keep the bird close enough for Rachel and Steve to find and feed it, Snyder says. “There’s evidence that moving a chick—or even an egg—up to a quarter mile away will still allow the parents to attend to it.”
Turns out, though, the platform wasn’t quite so abandoned; a female Osprey began threatening the chick as soon as it settled in. So Snyder decided to build the young bird a place of its own, about 90 feet away from its original home. It took Snyder and his fellow staffers an hour to assemble slats of wood and sticks to create a brand new nest on the island. The same evening he scaled the boathouse to retrieve Bailey for yet another change of venue—one that doesn't currently have a camera trained on it.
While the young raptor may be old enough to jump ship, it needs a platform until it’s ready to fend for itself completely. Ospreys prefer to land on elevated snags and limbs, so chicks have to stay put as long as their parents are feeding them. Even when they’re close to fledging “it takes a while for these birds to exercise their wings and take off,” Snyder says. Once they do, it requires a few more weeks for them to learn how to fish. Until then they continue living off of mom and dad.
Despite all this drama, Bailey is expected to start flying soon, though the timeline could be delayed given all the bird has faced. Whenever it does finally get off the new nest, live-cam viewers should be treated to regular visits again. Roving fledglings typically come back to their first home, Snyder says. For now, however, people can enjoy fantastic scenes of Hog Island and its wild waterfront. And who knows, maybe a far-adrift guest, like that Vermilion Flycatcher back in April, will drop by to fill the spotlight.
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