SuzAnne Miller
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If you visit and type in the word “instincts” the first definition that comes up is “an inbornpattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.”  If what Dunrovin and many other osprey web cam watchers has been learning recently about osprey behavior, we may have been attributing way too much wildlife behavior to “instincts” rather than to learning.  

During the past couple of years, several osprey nests equipped with web cameras have experienced the death of one of the members of the mating pair historically using that nest – the Dunrovin Ranch nest, a nest in Michigan, and Missoula’s Hellgate nest.

Our own experience watching Harriet teaching Hal the Dunrovin nest after her new mate Ozzie died in 2014 as well as the Facebook posts by Walter Chavers and Erick Greene all speak of the amount of learning the new nest mates must master to achieve the same level of expertise demonstrated by the previous mates. In short, while the instincts may well be telling this new mates WHAT to do, they must learn HOW to do it, and it appears that the older, more experienced female is the one doing the teaching. I don’t really know why this is so unexpected. We all completely understanding the importance in human beings, so why did we not think that it would be equally important to other species.



Thankfully, our Dunrovin nest’s new male, Hal, is beginning to become a good provider and protector for Harriet. His often awkward and ineffective attempts at copulating, providing fish, incubating, and chasing off intruders are becoming most efficient. Let’s hope that this summer he gets it right this summer and that the two eggs that he and Harriet are currently sitting both hatch and that the chicks thrive!



Take a look at Hal delivering a beautiful big fish to Harriet, then immediately, and I must say expertly, sitting to incubate their eggs. You’ve come a long way Hal and you continue to earn your name of Hallelujah every day!



Suzanne MillerSuzAnne 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.

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