Fledgelings Roost: Teenage Behavior?
It’s official: our osprey chicks, teenagers now, have fledged and left the nest! Here’s a shot of one of the bad-ass youngsters at his favorite roost, high atop the mast of our catamaran.
They return to the nest often enough, but when the season changes they will make the long trip to points south.
On observing the osprey re-lining the nest with sea grasses, someone asked me recently if osprey hatch more than one brood.
Internet research confirmed my hunch: like most birds of prey, osprey eggs have a relatively long incubation period (5-6 weeks) and hatch only one brood per season. (In contrast to the robin, who with a 12-14 day incubation period can hatch up to three broods per season. Read more about the robin in my post from 2011). Both Mom and Dad osprey put a lot of time and effort into just two or three youngsters. (Sounds familiar!)
On closer observation hubs noticed something surprising: it’s the youngsters re-lining the nest! One young osprey will fly to the nest with beak or talons full of sea grasses, the other chasing behind noisily, even dive-bombing him in playful (?) attack.
So are the adults teaching the young proper care of the nest, for when they have a nest of their own? What’s the competitive behavior all about? Could something else be going on?
I don’t mean to anthropomorphize these birds, but I’ve seen this same behavior among humans. Could their behavior be explained by ….
1. A Territorial Dispute? It’s the start of summer, right around Memorial Day. Witness two adult brothers competing for rights to Mom’s beach house:
“Dude, remember that one year you had a party here? The place was trashed!”
“Yeah, but at least I don’t have kids. Remember when your kids spilled all that ice cream on the carpet?”
“At least we cleaned up afterwards …”
“Hey Mom, I’m running to the A&P, do you need anything?”
… and so on.
Could the two young osprey actually be competing for rights to the nest for next season?
2. The AFA Principle? My best friend and I coined the acronym “AFA” in 7th grade to discreetly describe inexplicably stupid, annoying or childish behavior by an otherwise normal person. The acronym stands for “Anything for Attention”, and I latched onto this concept at the tender age of 12. I had witnessed another girl, a freshman in High School, receive a heartless teasing by some upperclassmen boys.
When I asked if she was okay, she told me: “oh, it’s alright …” explaining that “hey, even negative attention is still attention!”
Skilled in the ways of popularity, she was on the gymnastics team and dating a junior. She definitely knew what she was talking about … but wow. Talk about selling out. Forever after, my BFF and I would explain similar displays by silly women with a shrug and “hey, AFA!”
The AFA principle is also illustrated well by my children. Kid #1 wants the toy kid #2 is playing with, even though on his own kid #2 would normally have no interest in that toy. This usually happens when Mom and Dad are having a conversation about something totally unrelated. Kid #1 takes the toy, and the conversation between Mom and Dad is interrupted when he receives a stern warning from Mom or Dad (which is what he was after all along).
For children, the competitive behavior is actually a survival mechanism. Among High Schoolers and people on reality TV, a form of “survival” is also arguably the case.
For these “teen” osprey, is this competitive behavior simply about getting attention?