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A Case of Mistaken Identity ? Volume 2: Issue 3

Pam Narney pnarney@gmail.com


George and Gracie?

Is this pair last year’s George and Gracie? Some things are not quite right: appearance and behavior seem off. The female’s breast mottling seems too distinct and the male’s behavior is peculiar.

I often joke about painting their tails different colors. One researcher painted a chick’s claws with pink fingernail polish to distinguish her from all of the others.

Appearance

Some things are not quite right: appearance and behavior seem off. The female’s breast mottling seems too distinct and the male’s behavior is peculiar. The white of their breasts is too bright. Too clean. Determining male from female is even more difficult. The white breast first catches your eye. Female osprey often have a speckled or mottled breast. Males do or do not have any mottling making identifying them uncertain. This female is pure white in front with her necklace ostentatiously freckled. It covers her entire chest, not just a neckband. She is blinged out. I don’t remember the contrast being so great last year. Their white feathers dazzle the eye.


George is also pure white with a few token spots on his chest.

George in front. Gracie in the back. 2022

Females are larger. Close attention to detail is needed. An osprey pair is often together on the nest making male/female size easier to see.


Recognition of individuals year to year requires a good eye, good optics and patience. But their behavior seems off. They both spend less time on the nest. George digs on the left side of the nest like a dog. Debris flies.

See the dust!

I have never seen him do this before. Then he sits in the hole and stays there for five minutes. Has anyone noticed this behavior in their osprey?

George rests

George is doing all of the nest building. In the past Gracie helped. Now she ignores the entire situation.

Comparing last year’s picture of Gracie to this year’s settles the dispute.


It is George and Gracie!

Gracie with a chick. 2021