Oct 22, 2018
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Come meet our osprey family!
We'll have it up again next spring before the birds arrive. See below for a recap of 2018's highlights.
A male osprey first made its appearance on April 9. Female osprey usually show up a little bit later. Hopefully this guy will start working on the nest!
A female osprey first made its appearance on April 15. However, shortly after there were THREE osprey in the nest! We noticed two different males hanging around over the last few days. Two's company, but three's a crowd!
Nest construction has begun in earnest as sticks are brought up to the platform and meticulously arranged. As the season progresses, the female will hang out at the nest and the male will go fishing.
Maybe you've been keeping tabs on the osprey, but you've noticed an empty nest at night.
The female osprey will stay at the platform when there are eggs or chicks in the nest, but both parents often sleep away from the platform when it's empty. Osprey seem to prefer to sleep or roost in nearby trees, much like eagles. When the female osprey is close to laying the first egg, she sometimes spends the night in the nest.
Osprey nest construction is in full-swing with changes to the arrangement and the addition of new materials daily. The male usually fetches most of the nesting material - sometimes breaking dead sticks off nearby trees as he flies past - and the female arranges it. This stick that he's delivering is about 5.5 feet long! You'll also notice several various mosses, which all seemed to de be delivered to the nest at about the same time. Nests on artificial platforms, especially in a pairs first season, are relatively small- less than 2.5 feet in diameter and 3 to 6 inches deep. After generations of adding to the nest year after year, osprey can end up with massive nests weighing up to 200 lbs.!
As the male osprey work out just whose nesting spot this is, they take turns chasing each other off. They can get a little aggressive! Our view is limited to the perspective the camera is fixed at, so sometimes we only get to see half the battle!
Females get the benefit of courtship feeding before laying eggs, when their mates take on the full time job of bringing home the bacon, errrr... fish. Females use body language to send the message. Aha! says the male, she says it's time for me to do the grocery shopping.
An Osprey's food of choice is fish. As for the site of their nest, just like anyone who buys a home, it's location, location, location. That's why their nests are built within a mile of water.
Before hatching, the menu involves two or three fish per day. Once the chicks hatch, and become bottomless pits of hunger, the meal for the entire family grows to about five fish each day.
During courtship, the male Osprey returns from hunting with a dramatic display flight (sometimes called the fish flight) You can't see the flight on our camera. You can see the end results, with these few pictures of the female snatching her courtship meal from her mate as soon as he lands.
As recommended by PUD 3 customer, Wendi K., we have named our osprey pair Penny (female) and Griffin (male) after the Seattle Seahawks 2018 rookie picks.
Rashaad Penny, running back, was the Seahawks first round pick this year. Shaquem Griffin, linebacker, joins his twin brother Shaquill, cornerback, on the team.
We look forward to cheering on our Seahawks for many years to come... both the football players and the osprey!
Honestly, we're a little concerned that there aren't any eggs in the nest yet. We've had quite a few customers ask, so we inquired with our local ornithologist:
If females are inadequately fed they have to leave the nest for extended periods to forage for themselves and may not produce eggs. Penny leaves the nest often (most likely to forage) so maybe she is too malnourished for eggs?
Younger females typically have multiple candidates trying to court them. We are still seeing two males hanging around (e.g. 06/07/18 at 10:48 am). This could be a good explanation because polygynous osprey are very rare.
Younger osprey return to the nest site later and lay eggs later. Osprey typically return March to Mid-April. PUD 3 osprey were on the later end, another indication they could be younger.
Osprey returning mid-to-late April typically lay eggs in May (peak time) to early June. PUD 3 osprey returned April 9th and 15th... ... ... So you're sayin there's a chance!?
New pairs lay significantly later. Most of this leads us to believe Penny is a younger osprey and/or they are a new pair still trying to figure it out.
Osprey migration patterns show that they usually arrive in Mason County in April and stay until late August or early September. They have high nesting site fidelity, meaning they will return to the same site year after year.