Sunday, March 26, 2023

Spring is Still a Tease

Spring has arrived in the Mid-Atlantic. All the news can talk about is our non-native cherry trees in full bloom and soon-to-be pink confetti all along the roadways and lawns. It does look like the osprey 'may' nest on the newly cleaned platform.  I would track my binoculars to the nest that has been built and used for a few years as it sits in a high tree across the water and I saw no activity. I kept my fingers crossed. On March 9, weeks before the osprey was due to arrive a lonely female mallard spent a day on the platform, perhaps waiting for her mate.
A week later, while walking down our road, I found she was part of the two mallards that swim in our slightly hidden vernal pond each spring and probably nest somewhere nearby. I hope it is a safer site than our daylilies. She nested deep in their leaves and a fox or raccoon came in during the night and ate her eggs a few years ago.  I am amazed that there are any mallards at all!
Then on St. Patrick's Day, exactly on time, the osprey arrived. Studies have shown that they travel 95-380 kilometers (59-236mi) per day, so when they arrive they are exhausted. I could not tell whether it was a male or female because the size was not large or small but seemed medium to me, but the females are supposed to be the ones that arrive early. She was just sitting and waiting, but not sitting on the platform all the time. Sometimes she was off fishing and others resting on a nearby tree branch. Then a few days later the male arrived bearing gifts. Sticks.
She did not seem too excited.
Later in the day, or perhaps it was the next day, I noticed another osprey sitting in a tree close to the platform. I am guessing it might be a juvenile from last year or a male looking for a mate. It caught a fish and had a nice meal while observing the river and the platform below.
When that osprey had finished eating it flew down to the nest platform but the female chased it away immediately. Now things seem back to normal although moving slowly. They have mated although he almost knocked her off the nest in the process! Birds are such clumsy lovers! The nest is growing ever so slowly, so I still am cautious. They are behind many other ospreys that have arrived. The sticks are a bit more than in the photo below, but still quite sparse.
Our deck sits high enough that we can look down on the platform instead of trying to look from below and that makes it much easier to see when they have eggs or little ones. They are amazing creatures. They mate for life, travel both down and back separately and yet still manage to meet within days after flying thousands of miles, have sex for a second or two, and then begin a hardworking summer of nest building, nest repair, and feeding and training the young.  You may remember that I call them Fred and Ethel.


  1. Congratulations Fred & Ethel!
    It is goid the osprey return.
    I pray no Canada geese are lurking to grab nest residency.

  2. Osprey are wonderful. We watch them fishing in the shallow bay at our Whidbey island beach, and have seen their nests in high places, but have never met them as intimately as you have with Fred and Ethel. This was fun and interesting to read.

  3. Our favorite camp spot when our boys were small was near a railroad bridge where an osprey nested every year. One year we came late enough to see them chasing off their offspring. Welcome back to Fred and Ethel.

  4. I'm so glad Fred and Ethel are back, and hope they catch up with the nest building quickly.

  5. I am surprised about the separate arrivals. How do they do that? And why? I hope the brief mating is worthwhile. Our robins are back and apparently building nests already, but it is hardly spring-like yet. It was a frosty -4C this morning.

  6. glad to see they have reclaimed their nesting site after the geese were evicted.

  7. It must be great to have Fred and Ethel back this year. You have a bird’s eye view of them for sure.

  8. I always look forward to reading about your ospreys, Tabor, glad they have returned!


Glad to hear from you once again. I really like these visits. Come sit on this log and tell me what you are thinking.