Osprey Enjoying the Rights Of Spring

by Larry on March 30, 2010

Osprey Nest On Bridge photos by Larry Jordan

I was told of an Osprey nest atop a bridge nearby so I thought I should investigate.  There was a big storm heading into northern California, winds 50 mph and rain coming, so I took the chance and headed out before the storm to see what I could see.

An Osprey’s nest can be seen fairly easily if you know what you are looking for.  They are very large structures composed of sticks, usually brought to the nest site by the male and arranged by the female.  The nests range from 3 to 6 feet in diameter and become very large when built on a solid structure like a large tree or a man-made structure like a high tension power line or this bridge.  You can judge the size of this nest by comparing it to the bird’s wingspan which is about 6 feet.

Since Osprey feed almost exclusively on fish, their nest sites are always near or over water.

The female is larger than the male, as in most raptors, and she usually has a more obvious darker breast band than the male.

Osprey Male

Osprey Female

As the wind picked up, I kept watching the male as he flew up and down river.  I assumed he was looking for a meal of raw fish, but he returned quite often to see what I was doing as I had my camera fixed on his mate in the nest.  He was watching me like a hawk!

Then I finally understood why, they were beginning their breeding season and I had caught them during their courtship and mating activity which usually occurs at the nest and occurs most often just before or during egg laying.

This was my lucky day as the Osprey pair mated, enduring 50 mph winds and a photographic intrusion which began with the female hunkered down in the nest against the wind

as the male flew in

Notice how the male keeps his razor sharp talons curled up, protecting his mate

The entire encounter lasted about 10 seconds after which the male flew off to resume his fishing duties.  The male will feed the female from the time of courtship usually through the fledging of the young which is around three months after egg laying.

I will attempt to chronical the nesting of this pair of Osprey through the fledging of their young, sometime in late June or early July.  The rights of Spring can be a beautiful thing.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

OpposableChums March 31, 2010 at 7:31 am

Excellent post; a real slice of Life. Thanks.

Nicole March 31, 2010 at 9:54 am

OK, you most def. are a lucky one :D
Gorgeous shots as usual and this time of something not usual :)
Love this sequence!
.-= Nicole´s last blog ..White-crowned Black Wheatear, Saharasteinschmätzer, Oenanthe leucopyga =-.

jason March 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Marvelous photos, Larry. Wow! And I do love the natural history aspect of the mating series. As you say, it’s a beautiful thing.

Larry March 31, 2010 at 8:46 pm

@Jason (Opposable Chums) thanks for the comment. If any of my readers haven’t seen Jason’s movie, read my review, then go to his website and check it out.

@Nicole thank you very much and yes, I consider myself very fortunate indeed

@Jason thank you for your constant encouragement. Your generous comments always mean a lot to me

Jill April 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

Wow, right time right place – awesome series, Larry! Great shots – love the one of the female flying/landing onto the nest. Very cool stuff! Can’t wait for nestling and fledgie pics!
.-= Jill´s last blog ..Berry Blooms =-.

Amber Coakley April 1, 2010 at 10:12 pm

“He was watching me like a hawk!” Ha!

This is amazing that you were able to capture this with your camera. That “Osprey Female” photo is absolutely gorgeous!
.-= Amber Coakley´s last blog ..Winners – Challenge for Charity, March, 2010 =-.

Larry April 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm

@Jill, right time, right place is right! I am looking forward to following this pair. I can’t wait to see the chicks either :-)

@Amber thank you very much. That is my favorite shot also

Out walking the dog April 4, 2010 at 4:10 am

Stunning shots. What a great instinct you had to go out when you did. That nest looks as though it would be pretty vulnerable to a 50 mph wind storm, though. Was there any damage?
.-= Out walking the dog´s last blog ..Blog Carnivals and Festivals =-.

Phil June 23, 2011 at 12:42 am

Great series of shots at that distance Larry and I especially like the one that shows just what a wingspan Ospreys have. I’m impressed you’re shooting at f1.8!
Phil´s last post ..Surprise- Surprise

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