Kay Myers likes nature as it comes along. Pursuing wildlife experiences works for others, but she waits for nature and her life to mesh.
For many years, she lived on 27 acres in Lawrence Township, Cumberland County, which immersed her in woodland birds, forest animals and especially turkeys.
Once they were successfully reintroduced by the state, turkeys became a pest, she said.
"If I left the garage door open
6 inches for the cat, there would be turkeys in there," Myers said.
About four years ago, her life changed. She married Charley Myers, a fellow fan of wildlife, and moved to Ventnor Gardens Plaza in Ventnor.
That brought her in contact with ospreys, big birds she likes a lot more than turkeys. Retired now, she watches five nesting pairs along the Margate Causeway, checking on them about twice a day.
"I find ospreys so fascinating. They're so big and act so much like an eagle, but we don't see eagles much except occasionally up at Forsythe (National Wildlife) Refuge" in Galloway Township, she said.
There is much to love about ospreys, starting with their 5-foot wingspan, a black stripe across the eyes and a white face. They are unique among birds, so much so that the species is sometimes classified as its own family.
They almost exclusively eat fish, which they catch by plunging into the water and grabbing them with talons lined with barbed fish-gripper pads. When they fly the fish back to the nest, they point it head first to reduce air drag.
They raise their offspring in proximity to us, almost always on man-made structures and usually platforms we have provided for that purpose. They tolerate nest-mounted cameras, such as at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, that provide live views of osprey chicks growing up.
Myers has been studying what appears to be a young pair of ospreys trying to make a home along the causeway where they grew up - a place where all of the choice nest locations are already taken by established pairs.
She recently saw them deciding between two fixer-uppers for their nest site - one on a remnant of a billboard with a few sticks already mounted on it, the other on a nearby broken nest platform.
"I came back from my shopping trip three hours later and they had moved their sticks to the old nesting site and both were sitting on it," she said. "Something tells me these two birds are not too familiar with the nesting process, but I'm glad they are willing to give it a try."
If they succeed, one to three (rarely four) eggs will hatch into fuzzy, hungry chicks and the parents will take turns guarding the nest and bringing back fish. One egg will hatch several days ahead of the others, producing a dominant chick more likely to survive to adulthood in times when fish are scarce.
Myers said it's a challenge to tell the offspring from the adults once they are the same size. For a few weeks, the juveniles have a little buff color on their chest, and topside back and wing feathers are faintly outlined in white.
"I've seen three or four sitting on a nest at one time, hanging out at home," she said.
She hopes the new pair have that kind of success.
"I'm so happy to have the time now to watch these birds, and to have Charley who likes to watch them with me," she said.
Contact Kevin Post: