Bitching chicks


Osprey parents share a problem with a number of other species: How do you persuade maturing offspring to leave the nest? Being fed and looked after at home is comfortable, and consequently many offspring never want the coddling to end. But, it must.

The ospreys’s solution to this problem was treated extensively in a 2013 posting: It’s time you went. Essentially, the parents starve them out. An adult will taunt the chicks by flying past the nest with a fish, but will not deliver it. When it does deliver something to the nest, it is a stick, not a fish. 

The message is: You want to continue to eat; get out there and fend for yourself.

This morning, I witnessed the delivery of an early eviction notice: the stick brought to the nest prompted a fervent bitching by the hungry chicks complaining about their unjust treatment.

Mommy delivers, not a fish but, a stick to her increasingly distraught chicks.

What we have here is a clear case of two bitching chicks.


This entry was posted in birds. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Bitching chicks

  1. Trevor Goward says:

    Hi Alistair

    Thanks so much for sharing this splendid engagement with the osprey mind!


  2. Helen says:

    I love it!! Thanks for once again illuminating our bird world!

  3. Irene McIlwaine says:

    How clever and interesting. Thanks again.

  4. Christine Boyd says:

    Thank you Alistair for these awesome shots! They are one of my favourite birds.

  5. Allan Hobden says:

    Oh my…love this take..and yep..they are complaining…keeds!

  6. Karen Pidcock says:

    “Bitching chicks”….it was ever thus!

  7. Alastair Urquhart says:

    Where were you in relation to the nest level when you took these fabulous pictures? Thanks as always for sharing.

    • Alistair says:

      Alastair, I was on a sandspit while the osprey nest was just offshore on a dolphin. So, I was looking up at the nest at a gentle angle. (Dolphin is a still-used mediaeval term for a group of pilings forming a channel marker).

  8. Peter says:

    Always a treat to get your latest observations Alistair.

Comments are closed.