One of our most favorites bird to watch from last summer were a pair ospreys and later their two young ones. The houses across the street from us back up to a canal with brackish water (salt water and fresh water). So, we can literally sit for hours on our front porch watching them fish in the canal. Sometimes we hear them before we see them. Their call sounds high pitched compared to the bird's size and might.
It is amazing to watch ospreys glide, shifting their wings with the slightest movements. Then all of a sudden, they fold their wings back, turn their heads toward the water and down...like a bullet, they dive into the water. We figured last year they were batting about .500, coming up with a fish about half the time. A pretty good average, if you are playing baseball. The boys scream with excitement and yell "He got one mama!" when whey see an osprey struggling to hold on to a catch as big as the bird itself.
Ospreys are very distinctive looking and can be distinguished from other birds of prey by their "eye stripes".
Last weekend, we went to the beach and noticed a nest on top of a light pole. Upon further investigation, it was indeed an osprey nest. These nests are huge, made of mostly large sticks lined with sod and grass. This nest is in the wrong direction of the couple we watch from our front porch, but it was neat to see how large osprey nests are up close.
According to this site, our osprey pair should have 2 to 4 eggs by April 1 and hatchlings 5-6 weeks later.
Other interesting osprey facts from Alan Poole's "Ospreys: A Natural and Unnatural History" (Cambridge University Press, 1989):
- ospreys generally pair for life, but if mating is unsuccessful, will sometimes "divorce"
- a female osprey will choose her mating partner based on the quality and location of the male's nest
- osprey nests have been known to contain hula hoops, rag dolls, and toy boats
- osprey parents will hold back food in order to encourage fledglings to leave the nest
- osprey fledglings will sometimes move to nearby nests where they are fed by other parents