Congratulations to Richmond and Rosie on the safe hatch of their third osplet on 5 May.
Rosie was ever so excited to tell Richmond and to introduce him to the new baby.
The two at The Landings Osprey Nest on Skidaway Island near Savannah had nice large crops at 20:24 on 6 May. Oh, these two are growing. The oldest is on the right and the youngest on the left. Its colouring is very dark and quite lovely.
Big Red was trying to give the Ks a late night feed of rabbit but they appear to still be working out precisely what to do at chow time. It won’t be long til they are clamouring for those tasty morsels.
The little ones were definitely more awake and ready for breakfast! Look how strong they get in such a short period of time.
We haven’t checked in on the Great Horned Owls, Bonnie and Clyde, and their two owlets for awhile. It was a good day to go and watch. At 20:52 Lily fledged! It was amazing.
Both Lily and Tiger are on the nest as the sun begins to set.
Tiger flies away and Lily looks up at the branch where Clyde used to land when she was wee so that Bonnie could fly up and get the prey without being off the nest too long.
Lily flies to the branch.
She turns around and looks. Maybe she sees Tiger.
And off she goes – a blur between the two branches on the left.
Lily is an even fainter blur in the bottom left corner. Congratulations Lily Rose – you are now a fledgling!
Samson brought Legacy her breakfish at 10:02:24. Dad got out of the way pretty quickly. Legacy got her talons into his legs and talons during the last delivery. Ouch. That must have hurt!
Looks like Samson is playing the surrogate sibling eating the fish.
Legacy flies down from her branch and Samson tries to get out of the way quick. Legacy needs to learn how to take fish away from other eagles to survive.
Great mantling job, Legacy!!!!!!!!
Parent keeps a watchful eye guarding the nest as Legacy eats.
There is still no hatch at the Rutland Mantou Bay Osprey nest of Maya and Blue 33 (11). It is day 38 hour 16.
Iris incubated her egg overnight and is sitting on the perch post this morning. I wonder if Louis might bring her a fish? If not she is going to have to get her own and we know the Raven is just watching and waiting for Iris to leave. Remember, most mates will bring the female food. Louis has two nests. Gosh, I wish he would help Iris.
Eve is feeding the two little ones this morning – it is the evening meal in Estonia. It is interesting that she keeps the fish fresh by placing them under the straw of the nest. It reminds me of how humans used to keep ice from thawing.
In the image below you can see Eve uncovering the fish for the babies who are just waking up.
Oh, yum. This is such a pleasant nest to watch. One of my favourites. Dependable parents who don’t allow any nonsense from the kiddos. Everyone gets fed – just like at Big Red’s nest.
Tiny Tot has done well this morning. There was a fish delivery at 8:02:42. Tiny Tot got it.
Jack flies away while Tiny Tot mantles the fish.
Eventually sibling #2 takes it away. Diane watches as #2 eats the fish. She is very observant about what goes on the nest. It looked like she was going to take it away and then Tiny Tot grabbed it back and finished it off!
It was interesting watching Diane. She let sibling #2 eat enough fish for her and then stepped in to create a diversion so Tiny could also get a meal. Fabulous mom.
At 8:42:45 Tiny Tot takes the fish and self-feeds in the shade of mom.
At 11:44:13, Jack arrives on the nest with another fish. And look who is ready for another fish meal – Diane and Tiny!
Tiny Tot is very confident and doesn’t shy away when sibling #2 gets a whiff of fish on the nest and comes to share. How wonderful!
Thank you for joining me this morning. I will send out a reminder to you this evening because tomorrow is the day to count all of the birds in your neighbourhood. Join with hundreds of thousands of people around the world doing Citizen Science to help us understand about migration.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams. That is where I get my screen shots: Achieva Credit Union, Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, NEFlorida Eagle Cam and the AEF, The Eagle Club of Estonia, LRWT Rutland Osprey Project, Cornell Bird Lab and Montana Osprey Project, Farmer Derek, Cornell Bird Lab and Skidaway Audubon, and the Golden Gate Audubon Osprey Cam.
Congratulations to Richmond and Rosie. Their second hatch for 2021 arrived on the nest on top of the Whirley Crane at the Richmond Shipyards in San Francisco on 3 May.
In the image below, Rosie and Richmond’s first hatch of 2021 is right beside the egg that is pipping. You can see the end of the beak and the egg tooth breaking up that shell.
Rosie is really excited to show Richmond the second hatch!
Here we are dad! Can we have some fish, please?
Legacy stayed around her natal nest today. As I sat and watched her, I was reminded of an incident with one of our cats, Melvin. At the time, cats were allowed outside and Melvin loved to roll around in the grass and dirt in the garden. He was content not to leave the yard and never wandered away. One day he didn’t come when we called him. We searched high and lo at all hours of the day and night. Then about four days later, in the middle of the night, we heard him yowling at the door. Melvin ran into the house and went under the bed. For the next 15 years of his life he rarely left that one room. We will never know what happened to him while he was away, but it scared the wits out of him. There were marks on his paws where the fur was gone and holes. We wondered if he had gotten caught in a trap or barbed wire.
Looking at Legacy I have a feeling that she was lost. Of course, I could be all washed up! This evening Samson brought in a fish for Legacy at 4:52:41. It was 32 degrees in Jacksonville and it was windy.
Legacy started mantling when she saw her father coming in with that fish. She was also squealing very loud.
Legacy held on tight to the fish. Samson had eaten the head so it was easy for Legacy to self-feed. She did it like a pro!
Legacy ate every last bite of that fish. When she got to the tail she wasn’t quite certain what to do with it. She tried to pull it off like skin. If the parents were watching they would have been very proud. Good work Legacy!
Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot on the Achieva Credit Union Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida is the most beautiful bird. Tiny is a survivor. As the sun is setting Tiny had not had any of the last fish. He spent some of the time when he was alone on the nest chewing what fish was left on that bone in the middle of the nest.
At 7:59:46, there was a fish delivery and Tiny mantled it. ‘Mine!’
Tiny had not moved. He was still working hard on that fish as the sun set even more. Good night, Tiny!
Diane, #2 and Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot are ready and waiting for breakfast on 5 May. If you are wondering, #1 sibling has not returned to the nest. It is unclear if she is being fed elsewhere or what her status is.
You might recall my concern over The Landings Skidaway Island Osprey nest. The aggression from the oldest sibling was amping up as the food deliveries were irregular. That aggression continues. However, this morning the youngest got a nice big feed and it was a delight to see. They are still in their reptilian phase.
The oldest is getting fed and the youngest is cowering (on the left) afraid to go over to mom.
But like Tiny Tot, the youngest is waiting and watching for an opportunity. It moves around the long way once the biggest is full. If allowed, these little ones that are bonked/abused become quite clever. We have seen what an amazing bird Tiny Tot is. It is interesting, speaking of Tiny Tot, that the Achieva Osprey nest became peaceful the instant the oldest sibling fledged despite the fact that the eldest did not directly attach Tiny Tot after the third week in March. It became the duty of #2. Sorry – the behaviour of the birds is very interesting. I bet you never thought their lives could be so complicated?
There is number 2 – the darkest plumaged of the osplets – getting a nice big feed from mom. How wonderful!
Oh, goodness. Over at Big Red and Arthur’s Red Tail Hawk nest, K3 is coming!
It is a very soggy morning at the Fernow Light tower nest and here are K1 and K2 waiting for their little sib! It won’t be long and the entire K clan will be with us! There will be bonking bobble heads for a couple of days til their eyes focus and they realize that it is mom’s beak they need to connect with not their siblings!
I have checked on many more nests this morning but this blog would go on for a kilometre. Suffice it to say that Kistachie at the KNF Bald Eagle nest in Louisiana is doing a pretty good job self-feeding. He is not branching yet and Anna helps when he has trouble eating. Blue 152, a female, has landed again on the Loch Arkaig nest. Maybe a new male will appear! This morning Li’l and Big at the Duke Farms Nest were doing great. Mom was feeding both of them and that silly squirrel continues to bug the Pittsburg Hays trio. The last notice for today is 8 May is Bird Count Day. This is the day that people around the world stop and count the birds that they see. It is a major migration study and is how we know if populations are declining, growing, or if there are environmental issues impacting them. You, too, can take part. In fact, I urge you too. I will give you that information tonight.
Take care and thanks for joining me today. K3 is coming!!!!!!!!
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams: Cornell Bird Lab and RTH, Cornell BirdLab and Skidaway Audubon, Bay Ospreys and Golden Gate Audubon, NE Florida Eagle Cam and AEF, and Achieva Credit Union. I get my screen shots from these cameras.
Congratulations to Richmond and Rosie whose nest is on top of the Whirley Crane at the Richmond Shipyards in San Francisco! That first hatch of the three eggs came on 2 May.
Everyone knows have been pulling my hair out to understand what in the world is going on at the nest of Gabby and Samson – no food for Legacy for three full days. But, hats off to Richmond, the minute that pip happened, he went out and hauled in a fish for Rosie! Richmond and Rosie are a great team. They can handle three – no question!
Welcome little one. Your parents have that fish under control and you are assured of lots of food and maybe some fun toys and blankets in that nest, too.
And, oh my. I reported the first hatch at Dahlgren Osprey Nest in King George Country, Virginia. It should have been the second hatch! Sometimes it is really hard to wade through and see what is in the nest. Jack brings in so much stuff. Harriet is going to have to start throwing it overboard!
There are two little taupe bobble heads with stripes down their back right under Harriet’s beak.
Every year Big Red gets my vote for ‘Bird Mother of the Year’. She is incredible. She is the epitome of care and devotion. I sure would like to ask her if she would consider fostering a juvenile Bald Eagle from Florida right now! Big Red’s kids never go hungry. Never. She’s old school, like Richmond. Load that pantry – tomorrow could be a hot stormy day. Don’t wait. Arthur is more than happy to oblige.
Oh, you can barely see that little bobble head, K1.
And last but not least, the ‘Name the Royal Cam Chick of 2021 Contest’ is Open. You can take part. There are lots of prizes but the opportunity to name this beautiful albatross is award enough! Give it a go.
This year’s competition theme is ‘kaitiaki’ which is the Māori concept of guardianship over the land, sea and sky. This theme has been chosen to inspire names that celebrate this vital role. Five names have made the short list out of 700 submitted. The five short listed are:
Tiaki means to preserve, protect, and care for the land, sea, and sky.
Mahara means to think about and remember.
Ururaki means the winds of the sky. It is also the name of a star cluster.
Ataraku means morning star, a time for new beginnings and opportunities
Thank you for joining me today. I will be in a decidedly better mood once our dear Legacy has some food in that crop of hers. It is 32 degrees in Jacksonville today and the only way to get hydration is through prey. There is no intervention allowed. Just send warm wishes like we did for Tiny ‘Biggie’ Tot that whatever is going on with the NE Florida Bald Eagle nest is rectified soon.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cams. Those cameras provide the feed where I get my screen shots: Bay Ospreys by Golden Gate Audubon, Dahlgren Ospreys, Cornell Bird Lab RTH, and Cornell Bird Lab and NZ DOC.
I am always grateful when someone introduces me to a new nest. And today, not only did Tiny Tot get fed for 45 minutes in a private feeding but two friends introduced me to two new nests. It feels like one of those days when you don’t know whether to cry with joy or go out and purchase a lottery ticket! And then something even crazier happened.
Everyone has their favourite birds. I have a friend who loves Ospreys because Ospreys don’t ‘eat things with feathers’. There are others who like songbirds and not raptors who eat them and those who like raptors and not songbirds. Most of us actually like all the birds – the question is how in the world do we keep track of all our favourites in a single 24 hour day?
It is possible that everyone else in the world knows about this amazing website. I lists all of the bird cams on the planet associated with each type of bird. Seriously! I came upon it by accident today. Here is the URL
The birds are listed first by their common names. All you do is click on the name and you will be taken to the streaming cameras for that listing. For example, Northern Goshawk comes up with two cameras. One of those is in Riga, Latvia and the other is in The Netherlands. For my beloved Red-Tail Hawks there are four cameras. One is for Pale Male, the oldest RTH at 31 still actively breeding from his nest on Central Park. One is for Big Red at Ithaca, NY and the other two are in California and another in NY at Syracuse. I have not had time to check to see if there are any broken links but the ones I have checked are good. And I didn’t list the Osprey cameras in Germany and Poland. You can find them yourself. Have fun!
Oh, there is so much news. First, congratulations to SWFlorida’s Eagle Cam E17 who fledged on 14 April. The only question left is: will E18 fledge tomorrow. You will remember these two precious babies with conjunctivitis who spent five days in the care of CROW. Their parents are Harriet and M15. And it was E17 that got time out for being such a bully to E18! They are best mates. One does something and then the other. I think we can count on E18 feeling the wind beneath its wings tomorrow and if not then the next day.
Wow. These two have given so many people such joy. From the endless bonking as bobbleheads to their tug-o-wars with prey and now their branching and fledging. It would be magical if they had satellite trackers. Wonder where they will wind up traveling as juveniles?
E17 has been flying around the nest today after its fledge yesterday. What a beauty! Congratulations E17!
If you follow the Latvian Lesser Spotted Eagles, Anna and Andris, you will be thrilled to know that they have returned from their winter vacation in Africa arriving back at their nest in Latvia at 7:06 am on 14 April. In the image below they are already beginning to work on their nest!
Milda. You will recall that Milda had three eggs. Her mate Raimis disappeared on 27 March. It is not known if he is severely injured or dead. As we all know, it is impossible for one parent to incubate, hunt, and protect eggs and the territory. Milda stayed on the nest and did not eat. Everyone was worried. Several intruders came around the nest and eagles were heard fighting on the ground. One of those males was nicknamed Mr C. Mr C even attempted to incubate the eggs on 10 April but Milda kicked him off the nest. That same day he helped Milda defend the nest. Today she allowed him to incubate the eggs. Still, it is not clear that she has accepted Mr C as her mate.
In the image below, Milda is getting off the eggs and Mr C is anticipating getting to incubate them.
Milda has been off the eggs for extended periods. She had to eat. One time was five hours and the temperature was nippy. It is highly likely that the eggs are no longer viable. Milda will hopefully have many more successful clutches.
What I find interesting is the acceptance of another male’s eggs by Mr C. It happens but it certainly isn’t the norm.
You can check out the action with Milda and her suitors at the Durbe nest here:
Everything is fine with the San Francisco Bay Ospreys, Richmond and Rosie. After a scare when a plastic bag landed on the nest there was much relief when it was gone. Rosie laid her eggs on March 24, 27, and 30.
It is almost 9pm in California and there is Richmond protecting Rosie and their clutch.
The Loch Garten Nature Reserve Cam went live today. You can watch the antics of a new set of Ospreys – maybe! Will keep you posted on nest takeover. Isn’t it a beautiful place?
Here is the link to the cam in Abernethy, Scotland:
Before I get to the Tiny Tot update, I had a comment asking if Aila had been spotted enroute from Africa to Loch Arkaig. Unfortunately, Aila is not ringed so we don’t know! We are waiting like Lonesome Louis right now. Hurry and get home, Aila. We can stop chewing our fingernails then. Look at how much work Louis has done on the nest in the four days he has been home.
Tiny Tot Update. Jack brought in a whole fish at 3:21:46. Either he has found a place to fish in the night or he had a stash from earlier. Tiny Tot got a nice feed and at 6:236:20 he is flapping his wings and doing a ps.
The arrival of the second fish at 11:55:01. Diane is having to pull it off of Jack’s talons.
Tiny Tot still has a crop from the early morning feed. Diane is feeding the older ones as he looks on – wanting fish, of course! He is in the growing stage while the others are slowing down. No sooner than Diane was feeding the chicks and there is an intruder alarm.
Jack and Diane are both on the nest to protect the chicks. Notice how the trio know to get down as thin as a pancake. And the plumage blends them right into the nest. Fabulous.
Everything is back to normal by 12:30. Let us hope the intruder goes away. Whole families of Osprey have been killed in other places. Stay safe Jack, Diane, and kiddos.
Thank you for joining me. It is not yet noon on the Canadian prairies and no doubt there will be much more news as the day passes. I will give an update tonight. There are a number of Ospreys moving up from the south of England and a Scottish Darvin ringed female causing some mischief. Let’s hope she gets home. See you later. Take care all.
Thank you to the following for their streaming cameras: Achieva Credit Union, SWFlorida Eagle Cam and D Pritchett, Woodland Trust and Post Code Lottery, Friends of Loch Arkaig, SF Bay Ospreys and Audubon, Loch Garden Nature Reserve, and LDF White Tailed Eagle and Lesser Eagle.
My daughter asked me today if I would continue to watch the Achieva Osprey Nest in St Petersburg, Florida. She had a very good point. Tiny Tot or 3 (some call it Tumbles) was born on 5 March. Since the 12th of March, I have notes indicating that Jack, the male, needs to bring in more fish. I have notes that Tiny Tot was fed well one day and had no food for two days. That was three weeks ago. Many have invested in their own stress level height since food procurement on this nest became a visible problem – not only to streaming cam watchers but to the older osprey. The perception or the reality that there is not enough contributes to food competition and siblicide. This nest has literally been like a rollercoaster ride for everyone including Diane, the mother, who found as many morsels as she could to feed Tiny from 1:15-1:53 today. He had a bit of a crop. Continued large fish coming into the nest on a regular basis – a real effort on the part of Jack – is required.
There are ‘good’ Osprey nests to watch. Everyone has their favourite. I am going to only mention five today so if you have a favourite, let me know – and tell me why you like that nest so much! I am going to start with the first one because the female has already laid two eggs this season. That nest belongs to Maya and Blue 33 (11). This is a dad that cuddles with the female. They almost arrive together from their winter migration to Africa. They are an amazing duo. Blue 33 (11) does not have another nest with chicks to feed! He is totally devoted to Maya and their chicks and their nest is Rutland Mantou Bay.
Mary Kerr did the hearts on this image for the Loch Arkaig FB group. I want to make sure she gets the credit, not me. And one of the things Mary said was, ‘Maya really lucked out when she got him in 2014 as a mate’.
You can watch these two lovebirds on the Rutland Mantou Bay Nest at the following link:
The second nest is at Loch Arkaig, home to Louis and Aila. They are due to be back at the nest around 5 April. I will put in the highlights from their 2020 season. I like this nest because Louis works day and night to feed those babies. Last year Aila laid three eggs and they all hatched. I watched a tandem feeding when the little one, Captain, was fed by itself while the two bigger, older chicks were fed by the other parent. It was joyful and it brought my faith back in ospreys after seeing little Tapps die at Port Lincoln. Here is the video of the highlights from the 2020 nest at Loch Arkaig. The three siblings are believed to be 2 males and a female. Doddie the first born is a male, Vera the female, and Little Captain, a male is banded Blue JJ7. Enjoy it! When Louis and Aila return, I will be sure to let you know. The link to their nest is below the video.
And the link to the Loch Arkaig site for when Louis and Aila return in a few days:
All of these nests are wonderful and I have not listed them in rank order. My third nest is that of Idris and Blue 33 Telyn at the Dfyi Nest in Wales. Idris is known to be loyal, a great protector, and provider! You can access this popular couples nest here:
And I have two other nests to mention. One is in the UK and the other is in San Francisco.
I could not leave this page and not have included the nest of Mrs G and Aran. Mrs G is the oldest osprey in the United Kingdom, believed to be twenty-one years old. She is a powerhouse. This couple are at the Glaslyn Osprey Nest in Wales and here is the link:
And the last of the Osprey nests is the one in San Francisco Bay with Richmond and Rosie. Richmond is more known for his antics of bringing objects – aprons, toys, etc – to the nest but the two actually work well together. Richmond lives in San Francisco year round and Rosie migrates for the winter. Rosie is now incubating three eggs. The first was laid on 24 March, the second on 27 March, and the third on 30 March. That will keep Richmond busy bringing in fish when they hatch! Here is the link to their nest:
That link provides you to a number of past videos, too.
A fish came into the Achieva Osprey nest in St Petersburg, Florida at 5:33:51. Tiny Tot got a few bites after the two bigger ones but he still has a crop from his earlier feeding. This is much better than being sunk in all over as he had been. I live in hope that the momentum of fish – some big fish – a small one is not enough – come in and Tiny makes it.
I have written in-depth about many of the ospreys on these nests in other blogs. That information often includes their biography. When everything goes well, there is nothing more wonderful than seeing these amazing fish eagles thrive and fledge. They have a difficult life – the ones that migrate. The trip is 4000 miles one way over large bodies of water, mountains, and deserts. 50% do not make it.
Thank you for joining me today. All of the other nests that I follow seem to be doing really well today. For those of you that celebrate Easter – have a Happy Easter Weekend. Take care everyone.
Thank you so much to the following for their streaming cams. This is where I get my screen shots: the Achieva Credit Union in St Petersburg, Florida; the Bywd Gwyllt Glaslyun Wildlife, Bay Osprey by Golden Gate Audubon, Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Loch Arkaig, Rutland Wildlife at the Mantou Bay Nest, Mary Kerr for her cute FB image of Maya and Blue 33 (11), the Woodland Trust and People Play Lottery, and the LRWT Rutland Osprey Project.
Richmond was flying around the SF Bay area and arrived at the nest to check on things and bring a piece of fish to Rosie in case she had returned from migration. That was nine days ago, just after Valentine’s Day, 16 February 2021. That is brilliant Richmond. You know she is on her way home to you.
Rosie returns landing on the nest on 18 February. It was her shortest winter migration ever. Wonder how Richmond knew to expect her? She was only away from the Whirly crane nest for 154 days. She sits resting and waiting for Richmond to find her on the nest.
Then early on the morning of 25 February 2021 magic happens. Rosie is waiting at the nest. What a beautiful view she has. The sun is just coming up.
Here comes Richmond! Hello Rosie. Did you miss me?
Not sure Richmond’s grand entry was what Rosie was expecting but it is, Richmond, after all. What a crazy Osprey he is! They have been apart now for a little over five months.
Rosie gives Richmond a flip of her wings and he pretends he is a hovercraft. Gosh the hovering that these sea eagles do is amazing. Rosie looks up at him adoringly.
Richmond decides to take a spin around the Whirley Crane. So happy. Both are back home and ready for another season!
Richmond is a character and he and Rosie have successfully managed an Osprey nest with three chicks to fledge several times. Incredible! But the one thing everyone loves is when Richmond brings something interesting to the nest. He is notorious for this. Once it was a blanket, then a number of stuffed toys including a monkey and another time it was an apron with a person’s name on it. In 2018, he brought a red hat to Rosie and the three chicks that everyone played with for awhile.
Richmond and Rosie are experienced parents. And again, raising a nest of three Osprey chicks is no easy feat. This is the type of rivalry that can go on and yet, the three survived to fledge. Yahoo, Richmond and Rosie!
Moving from San Francisco Bay and the experienced and successful nest of Richmond and Rosie to the central part of the bayou in Louisiana. This is the nest of the new couple at Kisatchie National Park. It was a busy first twenty-four hours for this young mother brooding her little one. Right around 23:29:19 a racoon tried to get up to the nest. The female was alert and she successfully defended the nest and her tiny, tiny eaglet.
Their first and only eaglet of the season hatched at 11 pm on the 23rd. It is now 36 hours old. Below is a picture of it in the big nest on the morning of the 25th. The eaglet is 34 hours old. The father has really filled the nest with food. He is a fantastic provider. The eaglet looks so little next to the fish.
A challenge for this first time mother is how to feed their baby. The eaglet and the mother know by instinct that it is beak to beak. However, the mother is always either too close or the sight line for the little one is off a bit. Fish goes on its head and on the side of the face with a few bits getting into its mouth. These two need to begin to coordinate so that this little one will thrive. They are both trying – it is hard to hit a slightly moving target, the mouth of that little bobble head. Sometimes the mother tries to push the fish into the little one’s mouth. She is trying very hard. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for them. The eaglet will survive on the contents of the egg for about twenty four hours (or so I am told).
In the image below both of the parents are there caring for their wee one.
The young mother seems to get a little frustrated when the eaglet will not open its beak wide enough. She will get the hang of it. It is hard to realize just how small the bites are these wee ones can eat!
Everyone knows what to do. They just need to meet up at the right time like Rosie and Richmond! We will keep a close watch on these two nests for developments.
Thank you for joining me. Have a fantastic day. Updates on other nests will be posted in about nine hours.
Thank you to the streaming can at the KNF Eagle Nest and the SF Bay Ospreys and the Audubon Society for the streaming cam for Richmond and Rosie.
There is a lot of chattering going on around the ‘bird’ world and the one common word that binds people in the United Kingdom with those in San Francisco and Australia is: Osprey. Every continent has Osprey – some more than others. Many of my friends adore them above any of the other feathered friends because they ‘eat fish’. They are sometimes called ‘sea eagles’ but do not confuse them with White-Bellied Sea Eagles. Totally different.
You will find Ospreys on every continent in the world except for Antarctica. And there is no missing them. They have very distinctive plumage that helps them with the glare off of the water when they are hunting. See that black line going from the beak over the eyes and to the back of the head? That will stop the glare from the water so that their great vision, three times that of a human, can help them spot the fish swimming below the surface. If you watch American football you might recall that the players put a black line under their eyes to stop glare – something learned from the Osprey! The soles of their feet are different than other raptors. They are very rough with tiny little barbs. If they were a person you might recommend they go to get a pedicure – that is how rough those soles are. That rough surface helps them to hang on to wet slippery fish that do not want to be an Osprey’s dinner. They have four toes like all other raptors but the Ospreys can do something that others can’t – they can swivel one of those front toes to the back to help hold on to those wiggly fish. Brilliant.
Ospreys are smaller than a Bald Eagle but bigger than the large hawks. They weight 1500-2000 grams (3-4 pounds). They are about 54-58 cm long (21.3-22.8 inches) with a wingspan of 150-180 cm (59 to 79 inches). Their head, throat, and body along with their legs are mostly white. They have black and white banded tail feathers and distinctive black and white wings that bend at the joint. Their beak is black and shaped like a very sharp hook. Their eyes are a beautiful, beautiful yellow.
Female Osprey are about 20-30% larger than the males. The females have a ‘necklace’ of feathers that is darker and more distinctive than the male.
Osprey’s have a distinctive dive and I do not have an image of it. Once they have spotted their prey, they bring their feet forward so they are even with their beak and then catch their prey feet first. They then latch on to the fish with those sharp talons. It is quite spectacular.
How large are the fish that the Osprey catch? The Osprey normally catches fish that are 15-30 cm in length (6-12 inches) and that weight less than 454 grams or a pound. The largest observed catch was 1250 grams or 2.5 pounds. Some researchers believe that they can easily carry up to half their weight.
Do Ospreys eat anything other than fish? The answer is actually yes. While the majority of their diet is fish, Osprey have been observed, on rare occasions, to eat other birds, voles, squirrels, muskrats, eels, and salamanders. Droughts really impact Osprey and their ability to thrive.
The territory of an Osprey will be near a body of water – a lake, a river with lots of fish, along the shores of the oceans and seas. They build their nests off the ground to avoid predators. Originally, Ospreys made their nests in tall trees but, as you know, there is a shortage of structurally sound tall trees.
Those migrating to Canada have been known to make their nests on utility poles. Sadly, this is a huge problem because of electrocutions. So many died that petitions were sent to Manitoba Hydro, a public utility company. Near to Lake Winnipeg, that company began erecting nest platforms for the Osprey. Ospreys actually like human-made nests. It is said that if you provide a nest, the sea hawks will come. And many in Scotland will tell you that is true! Ospreys are loyal and generally return to the same nest year after year.
During the winter, Ospreys head to warmer climates returning to their breeding grounds in spring. Ospreys from the United Kingdom migrate to The Gambia or Senegal with some juveniles known to stay around the coastal areas of Spain. Ospreys from North America migrate to the southern parts of the United States along the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, the coasts of Mexico and countries of Central America. Some Ospreys do not migrate. They include those living in warmer climates year round such as Australia, Singapore, other parts of Asia, and parts of the southern United States including Florida.
Solly was born on a nest sitting on a barge at Port Lincoln, Australia. She is an Eastern Osprey and they are critically endangered. Look carefully and you can see the satellite transmitter on her back. She has a bright orange band on her left leg and a metal one on the right. Solly is easy to spot and many are taking her photograph as she travels the Eyre Peninsula of Australia moving north from her barge nest. I often report on her movements and from those the researchers are changing their minds about how far Ospreys travel from their natal nest.
One of the most famous Osprey couples has their nest on a 75 foot high World War II Whirley crane in Richmond.
They are Rosie and Richmond and Richmond – well, everyone loves Richmond! Richmond is quite the character. He loves bringing blankets and stuffed toys up to the nest.
One of my most favourite Ospreys is Iris. She is not named after the flower but because she has some very distinctive spots on the iris of her left eye. Iris is the female at the Hellsgate Nest in Montana. For many, many years Iris and her mate, Stanley, nested at the site and raised many chicks. Stanley did not return in 2016. Iris’s new mate, Louis, has proven to be unreliable and the breeding seasons have been unproductive. While most Osprey are thought to live up to twenty-five years, Iris is believed to now be twenty-nine years old.
During the 2020 breeding season, Iris had simply ‘had it’. Louis, her mate, actually had another family. Iris laid her egg on the nest but Louis did not bring her food or come to relieve her. She had to leave the egg to eat – and, of course, the Ravens were watching and they came and ate it. Iris was not pleased. Then a squirrel climbed up the platform and was trying to get on the nest. Take the time to watch this video to the end. It is only four minutes long. I seriously would not mess with a female Osprey when they are having a bad day. I want to add that Iris was seen fishing and she sometimes returns to the nest. Everyone is hoping that she will come back for the 2021 season with a new partner.
Iris may help avian researchers understand how long wild Osprey can lay fertile eggs. We know that with Wandering Albatross, Wisdom, who is 69 years old is still raising chicks.
Ospreys raise only a single brood of chicks a year. There will be anywhere from one to four eggs. Both parents will incubate the eggs although many note that the female is there more than the male. The eggs are hard incubated from the time the first one is laid. This means that the last chick might hatch six days later than the first. This often results in siblicide where there are three or more chicks. The smallest is just that much smaller and seen as a threat to food resources. That said, I have seen Osprey parents do dual feedings, such as Loch Arkaig in Scotland, with three chicks growing up to fledge with no dominance issues. First pips are normally around thirty-six days. First flight dates really vary from 50 to sometimes as much as 60 days with 55 being the average. The chicks will use their natal nest as a home base. Parents will teach the juveniles to fish and will supplement them with fish they have caught for several months after fledging.
Ospreys were severely impacted by the use of DDT and their numbers declined rapidly. Many countries are working hard to reintroduce them to the wild. I highly recommend: