SuzAnne Miller is the owner of Dunrovin Ranch. A fourth-generation Montanan, SuzAnne grew up roaming the mountains and fishing the streams of western Montana. Her love of nature, animals, science, and education prompted her to create the world’s first cyber ranch where live web cameras bring Dunrovin’s wildlife and ranch life to internet users across the globe
Our beautiful Harriet osprey arrived back at her nest on April 1st. She took several days to regain her strength from her long migration home, then set about to restore the nest after the fierce winter winds. Her many fans were filled with a multitude of emotions; delighted to see her looking so fit, worried about her finding a new mate, and sad to know that Ozzie would never return. We waited impatiently, while she went about her business, seemed to trust in life to bring the right new mate her way, and was completely indifferent to our fretting.
And, indeed, a handsome and young male osprey made his grand entrance on April 20, 2015. They swooped together through the skies, flew back and forth to the nest, and settled in to mate. What joy! Dunrovin has named Harriet’s new mate Heiko – in honor of Heiko Langer (and with his permission!) who was the University of Montana scientist who worked with Dunrovin to establish the nest web camera. Heiko Langer has since left the University of Montana to do research and teach at a university in Saudi Arabia. Heiko Langer left a big legacy behind in Montana and is greatly missed. Our Heiko osprey carries a BIG name and has very BIG talons to fill in the hearts and minds of Harriet’s many followers.
Heiko and Harriet make a lovely couple. Both of their names are derived from the German word for “family leader” which is most appropriate for an osprey couple in which each is so vital to success. However, it would seem that Heiko has considerable to learn about being a good mate and father – that’s the bad news. And the good news is that has an excellent teacher in Harriet!
The new couple has had been little time for a quiet honeymoon. They have experienced multiple intrusions from other male ospreys seeking Harriet’s favors; and a mystery egg was laid on April 21st – we say mystery because no mating was observed at the nest prior to Heiko’s arrival, and yet it seems too early to be a result of mating with him. Harriet, herself, seems mystified by the egg and has behaved very differently than in the past. At times she has left her egg completely unguarded for the sparrows to investigate; and she frequently leaves the egg uncovered.
Heiko’s youth and inexperience show up in many ways. At first he clearly did not understand that it is his job to fetch Harriet food and his first attempts at incubating were truly comical. At one point, he pecked with curiosity at the egg. Yet, Harriet’s trust in him seems to be well founded. Heiko is proving to be a very fast learner and may well come up to the mark. He is now bringing more fish. He more quickly settles down to incubate the egg; and he is fending off rival ospreys.
We viewers should at least have as much faith in Heiko as Harriet does. She is showing him the ropes and showing us that patience pays off. We all welcome Heiko to Harriet’s nest!
Life at the nest is quickly becoming more familiar – with Harriet eating a big fish on the perch while her mate incubates an egg. Ozzie’s memories will always haunt the Dunrovin nest and he would certainly chase off Heiko were he still among us. But those of us with hearts and minds invested in this wonderful little world of the Dunrovin ospreys’ nest are grateful that Harriet found Heiko.
VISIT DUNROVIN RANCH AND THE LIVECAM: DAYS AT DUNROVIN