Empty-nesters: Webcam osprey family heading south for ‘separate vacations’ – Newfoundland & Labrador

There’s at least one mother in St. John’s who won’t mind being an empty-nester.

In fact, Shanawdithit, or Shana — a female osprey that has been living life in the public eye thanks to a Newfoundland Power webcam — will likely be the first to abandon the nest to head south.

Her mate, Beaumont, and their two chicks won’t be far behind.

The family has delighted nature lovers since May, when the camera started rolling on their nesting platform above the Virginia Waters electricity substation in the east end of St. John’s.

Bierregaardis removes Tommy from a nesting platform at the Virginia Waters substation. It was installed by Newfoundland Power as part of its nest management program, designed to minimize the risk that electric infrastructure poses to the birds. (Ian Winter)

Mom, Dad and their two offspring are preparing to fly south. Mom will likely be the first to go, as female adult ospreys usually leave a couple of weeks before the rest of the family.

“She just gets sick of hanging out in the nest,” said Rob Bierregaardis, an ornithologist and researcher at Drexel University in Philadephia. 

“She does all the incubating, so for 38 days she’s on those eggs, and then for about six more weeks she’s keeping the young dry when it’s raining, and warm when it’s cold, and shaded when it’s hot.”

Bierregaardis is already keeping track of two members of the Virginia Waters family he managed to catch in a fish-baited trap set in the nest. 

Tommy is fitted for his satellite radio transmitter. (Ian Winter)

Shana and her son Tommy are now both wearing satellite radio transmitters, which allows Bierregaardis to follow their movements locally from the nest and back, as well as their migration down south. 

One thing is for sure, the family won’t be hanging out together.

“Males and females have separate vacations. They go to different places. Some people say that’s why they can mate for life,” joked Bierregaardis.  

In a screen shot from Bierregaardis’s website, colours represent the movements of the ospreys being tracked. Shana is in red, and Daphne (light blue) regularly flies from St. John’s to the Bay Roberts area. (ospreytrax.com)

Bierregaardis has been tracking Shana’s movements since last August. 

He has also tagged another female osprey, Daphne, and her two chicks Da Rock and Aster, who are nesting in Memorial University’s Botanical Garden.

He tracked Shana to the Orinoco River in Venezuela, while Daphne chose…

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