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Crown Royal, the oldest of the three chicks at the Hellgate Canyon osprey nest in Missoula, Montana, has an unusual problem – too many fish!

Her dedicated father has delivered at least four fish in the last few hours.  You can see that she’s standing on one – and there’s another waiting for her on the side of the nest.

And while it’s not easy to see in this light, she already has a very full crop!  This was the scene a few minutes ago –

Dad arrives at the nest with a fish.  He waits patiently for a few minutes, and while I know I’m humanizing a bit here, I think he looks proud of how well he’s providing for the one chick still spending time on the nest in preparation for migration.

In comes his daughter – and does she say thank you, or acknowledge the large fish he’s brought for her?  No – she grabs the fish that she couldn’t finish earlier!  I didn’t actually see Dad shake his head – but I can imagine him thinking the osprey equivalent of “teenagers – sigh” before he flew off, leaving the fish in case she wanted it later.

After a few minutes, Crown Royal (CR for short) flew off with the fish she was holding.  As fledglings get more confident in the air, they usually take their fish to a favorite perch to eat, rather than stay on the open nest where they might be challenged by siblings, and CR has been doing that for several days now.

There is still a fish on the nest – and as of a few days ago, CR’s younger sister (named Squish, because as a tiny chick, she was often squished in between her two older siblings) was still in the area, though Squish seems to prefer perching near the river, perhaps to be closer when Dad catches a fish.  I was wondering if she might stop by the nest and grab the fish, but it’s getting dark and she hasn’t put in an appearance.

Their brother, named Captain Hook, left on migration a couple of weeks ago – northern osprey spend the winter in warmer areas, with some western osprey heading to Mexico and Central America – and it may be possible that Squish has also migrated.  Or perhaps she’s simply learned it’s easier to catch her own fish than to fight with her older sister.