Osprey Nest Surprise!

We interrupt the regularly scheduled updates about the Detroit Lakes Bird Festival for an unbelievable osprey nesting story:

Becky Field, who currently has some of her photography on exhibit at Minnetonka Center for the Arts took a most unusual photo! Look closely at that chick in the osprey nest--that's not a osprey chick, that's a Canada goose gosling. Now it looks like the adult is bringing the gosling to the nest in its talons. The osprey is actually bringing in a fish to the nest and the gosling is behind the feet.

The platform is on private property in Maplewoods on Lake Minnetonka and Becky's friends asked her to come photograph it. They have been watching the osprey on the platform through a scope in their house and were very excited to report the arrival of their first chick to local osprey expert and bander, Vanessa Greene. She told them that no osprey chicks would be hatched this early in Minnesota. When they described the "chick" as having a fuzzy yellow head the plot thickened.

Turns out, they had observed a Canada goose up on the platform for a short time. Either the goose had been chased out by the osprey or she was just dumping excess eggs in the nest. I'm not sure what the goose would have been thinking--she could have been her first breeding season and Canada geese have to kind of learn where to put their nest so it will be safe. Or it could have been a case that she either had no mate or too many eggs in her own nest and decided to give a few out to other nests. Either way, she wasn't thinking clearly: how would the chicks have gotten down from the high platform--Canada goose chicks aren't built like wood duck chicks--they weren't meant to jump 50 feet from a nest.

Somehow, the osprey ended up incubating a goose egg and it hatched. The property owners observed this little family for several days and were expecting the gosling to die within 2-3 days as an all fish diet would not meet its nutritional requirements. Both the male and female osprey tried to feed it fish, since osprey chicks are altricial (beg for food). That would be a tricky situation since Canada geese young are precocial (they feed themselves) and wouldn't be begging its parents for food. The property owners had even watched the gosling nuzzle up to the female osprey.

Becky took some photos on both May 19. She received a call on May 20 from the property owners that they had not seen the gosling all day and is presumed dead and is either in the nest or has been removed by the osprey.

Thanks, Becky, for sharing this incredible photo and documenting this odd little event. Sometimes nature goes a little off kilter.