More love in the air- Observations suggest that pairs mate between 88 and 338 times before laying eggs. I believe it after spending some time filming Osprey pairs over the past month, setting up house at locations all around Massachusetts. I don’t think they are always making a “connection,” and perhaps it’s equally as much a bonding behavior.
I love watching Ospreys in flight; to my way of thinking, one of the most graceful flight patterns of all the raptors we see in New England. They have a beautiful way of floating/hovering mid-air over their nests.
Are Ospreys a member of the eagle family or a member of the hawk family? They are neither. Up until fairly recently, they were classified with hawks, but now they are in a category all their own.
Greenbelt’s Osprey cam is up, with residents Annie and Squam and their clutch of 3 eggs. You can find the link, and also read periodic updates provided by Dave Rimmer, HERE
The Osprey are finding the shallow water rich with fish. The fish hawk seen here had no luck the first try. After circling around and giving a signature call, he/she quickly made a second dive and had himself an excellent catch. The large fish pulled him back down toward the water for a few moments, but then he righted himself. I thought the Osprey was heading in the opposite direction of where I was standing, but then he flew almost directly over me. It was a thrill to see an Osprey so close up with a fish in its talons . Toward the end, he looks like he is surfing with the fish.
Osprey eat almost exclusively fish, yet despite that fact, every time an Osprey flies over our local beaches, all the shorebirds run for cover. According to Cornell, captured fish measure on average form 6 to 13 inches long and weigh one-third to two-thirds of a pound, although the largest fish caught on record was 2.5 pounds.
Dave Rimmer, Osprey Program Director writes the following-
2021 Nesting Season Updates
Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Update Early April 2021 – Annie and Squam (at least we thought at first it was him) returned to the nest earlier this year – probably around April 5-7. The webcam went live on April 13 and new nesting materials had been brought to the nest. However, we have observed a banded Opsrey at the nest on April 13 and 14, which would not be Annie or Squam. So we will have to watch and wait to see what unfolds here.
Update April 15, 2021 – Watching the Osprey pair on the webcam now for the past few days, we have noticed that the male Osprey has a US Fish and Wildlife Service aluminum band on his right leg. I have banded over 200 Osprey chicks in the past 5-6 years and all on the right leg. Squam was not banded and it is highly unlikely he would have been banded during migration. Plus, this banded male is a large Osprey who appears almost equal in size to the female, who looks very much like and we believe is Annie. Squam was noticably smaller than Annie. About noontime today, the banded male attempted to copulate with Annie. Since then there has been a third Osprey around the nest and much commotion, including a lot of chasing and calling.
It will take more time to determine what is going on here. Are two males competing to be Annie’s mate. Did something happen to Squam or did this larger male just outcompete him? These are all possible scenarios that will unfold in the coming days. Stay tuned!
Beautiful Ospreys are returning to Massachusetts nesting sites. Annie and Squam, Cape Ann’s resident pair, are actively re-establishing their bond, arranging the nest and courting. Their nest is located in the marsh behind Lobstaland and when driving past, you can often catch sight of the pair’s nesting activity. Annie and Squam’s nest is managed by Essex Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, Dave Rimmer.
Lobstaland Osprey nest
Osprey courtship is wonderfully fun to observe. Pairs typically mate for life and seem to simply enjoy hanging out together in the nest. They return each year to an established nest site, which is always near water and may be at the top of a dead tree, cliff, rocky outcropping, or manmade structure including Osprey nesting platforms, telephone poles, channel markings, and even church rooftops (see last photos)! By reusing the same nest from year to year a ready-made nest allows for earlier egg laying, which generally leads to greater success. And if the first nest fails, there may be time to try again.
This past week I had the unexpected joy to observe close up a pair of Osprey reuniting. The two flew to a phone pole adjacent to their established nest after which the male took off, quickly returning with a large stick. He placed the stick on the phone pole near to where the female was perched, repeating this behavior half a dozen times. The pair called to each other frequently during the stick placement bonding, when they both suddenly flew to their nest and mated. Osprey mating is very brief, lasting only seconds. The female positions her self higher on the rim of the nest while the male jumps on her back. During this extraordinarily brief cloacal kiss, sperm is transferred. I have read pairs will mate frequently during the few days before she begins laying eggs, her most fertile time.
After mating, the lovebirds stayed in their nest for several hours, continuing to “talk” to each other, housekeeping, and what appeared to be simply doing nothing more than hanging out together.
I didn’t see the male delivering fish to the female or the Osprey’s famous courtship flight; hopefully another day 🙂
Goin’ to the chapel
How to tell the difference between male and female Osprey. The female of a pair is oftentimes, but not always, larger than the male, by as much as twenty percent in some instances. But unless you see them side-by-side from exactly the same angle, that can be difficult to compare. Females may also have a more prominent ” necklace,” sometimes referred to as “freckling,” around the neck. Her feather necklace patterning is usually more pronounced. You can see the difference in the photo below.
Female Osprey right, male Osprey left
Fun facts about Osprey
Osprey are one of the largest birds of prey, with a wingspan of five feet.
Osprey are found worldwide, in every continent except Antarctica.
The oldest Osprey lived to be 30 years old.
Osprey are recovering from the use of the pesticide DDT, which caused breeding failure from eggshell thinning. DDT was banned in 1972.
Ospreys are piscivorous, with fish comprising 99 percent of their diet.
When an Osprey catches a fish, it arranges the fish head first, reducing aerodynamic drag.
Update May 28, 2020 – Not much new to report. The incubation phase for Annie and Squam continues. Squam is still bringing in numerous fresh fish daily, mostly river herring but the occassional small striped bass as well. One we roll into June the count down is on for hatching.
Annie or Squam? One of the pair of Cape Ann’s resident Ospreys (hopefully a family soon).
Update May 11, 2020 – All good news. Annie has laid 3 eggs, completing her clutch yesterday. So that would suggesting the first egg might hatch around June 15. Squam has been busily catching mostly river herring these days, feeding himself and Annie a steady diet of fresh fish.
Way, way off across the Great Marsh, and perched atop the tallest tree, could it be an Osprey this early in the season? Yes, I think it is! The photo is terrible and greatly cropped but good enough for an id. Spring is just around the corner!
Osprey are a species of hawk. Their nickname is Fish Hawk because that is their preferred diet. You will see them hunting over the water and pairs will soon be building their nests of sticks. Snapshots of what to look for –
On my morning PiPl check, I met up with a super nice gentleman, Bill, who walks the beach every morning. He loves wildlife (including PiPls), is a Coast Guard veteran, was a fisherman, and grew up on a marsh. Bill pointed out the whale (or he thought possibly a large dolphin), breaching and blowing blow holes off in the distance. Bill mentioned there had been a crowd along the back shore earlier and that there is tons of good bait fish off the coast right now.
How exciting at see an Osprey swoop in and snatch up a large fish precisely where the whales were fishing. All were too far away to get some really fine shots, but you can at least get an idea from the photos.
PiPl Update- all three fledglings are doing beautifully on this, their 39th day 🙂 The three spent the hours of five to seven mostly foraging in the area front of the enclosure, and also preening within the enclosure. Papa was on the scene, too.
July 10, 2019 Good Harbor Beach Sunrise
Friend Joe Dasilva shares it’s pogies or menhadden that is bringing out the whales and the Osprey?