Bird Photo Gallery: Osprey Nest

Returning to the nest.
Returning to the nest. | Source

Nesting Ospreys


In our sleepy little community in Central Oregon, we have several nesting pairs of ospreys. One of our pairs has built their nest atop a light pole at the Crook County Fairgrounds and while attending the horse races several weeks ago, I saw them for the first time.

This week, amidst the commotion of the annual county fair, I had the opportunity to photograph them as they fed their chicks. The rumor is that there are 3 chicks in this particular nest. You can barely see the head of a chick being fed in several of the pictures.

Ospreys are unique raptors in that their diet is primarily only live fish. They dive from heights of 30-100 feet to catch their food. Watch the video for a "bird's eye" view of their spectacular diving ability.

I'm not exactly sure what all the flapping maneuvers and then resettling movements I photographed were all about. I've read that birds regurgitate their food to feed to their chicks but I'm not sure if that's what this particular osprey was doing or not.

Regardless, ospreys are amazing birds to watch whether they're diving for a fresh catch, soaring against a cloudless blue sky or feeding their young.

The osprey peers into the nest.
The osprey peers into the nest.
Seeming oblivious to all that's going on below, the osprey kept an eye on some vehicles beneath its nest.
Seeming oblivious to all that's going on below, the osprey kept an eye on some vehicles beneath its nest.
Osprey giving everyone below the once over.
Osprey giving everyone below the once over.
The other osprey has returned to the nest as well and feeding time begins.
The other osprey has returned to the nest as well and feeding time begins.
The osprey is perhaps regurgitating fish for the chicks.
The osprey is perhaps regurgitating fish for the chicks.
Notice the wingspan of the osprey.  It's as big as the platform and the nest.
Notice the wingspan of the osprey. It's as big as the platform and the nest.
Flapping slightly, the osprey begins feeding the chicks.
Flapping slightly, the osprey begins feeding the chicks.
The osprey gathers its wings in and performs settling maneuvers before starting the feeding again.
The osprey gathers its wings in and performs settling maneuvers before starting the feeding again.
Here, the osprey's wings are only partially unfurled.
Here, the osprey's wings are only partially unfurled.

Where Osprey Live and Fish in Prineville

show route and directions
A markerCrook County Fairgrounds -
SE Fairgrounds Rd, Prineville, OR 97754, USA
[get directions]

B markerOchoco Creek by Fire Station -
Prineville Fire Dept, 12051 SE Juniper Canyon Rd, Prineville, OR 97754, USA
[get directions]

C markerDavidson Field -
251 SE Court St, Prineville, OR 97754, USA
[get directions]

Facts About Ospreys


  • Ospreys are migratory birds--they usually winter in Mexico and/or South America
  • The osprey diet consists mostly of fresh fish unlike other raptors who feast on snakes, voles, etc.
  • Ospreys have a unique smell to them because of the oil on their feathers
  • The osprey mates for life and returns to the same nest year after year
  • Osprey will nest in communities whereas other raptors such as eagles maintain at least a 1-mile radius between nests
  • Usually at 3 years old, the young osprey will mate and start a nest of their own
  • Osprey populations declined for many years until the banning of pesticides rejuvenated their numbers
  • Groups like Oregon Wild restore and preserve the osprey's habitat by building nesting platforms and erecting structures resembling old snags to encourage nesting
  • To prevent wind drag, the osprey carries its catch with its body parallel to the bird's (see photo)
  • An eagle can "spook" osprey into releasing their catch mid air claiming the fish for its own
  • Unlike some of the other larger raptors, osprey have a somewhat awkward flying pattern but they are gold medalists when it comes to the dive
  • They can live to 30 years old in the wild
  • They are sometimes called the fish hawk

On another day an osprey flying at the reservoir with its fresh catch.  Notice how the osprey holds the fish.
On another day an osprey flying at the reservoir with its fresh catch. Notice how the osprey holds the fish.

How Osprey Get Their Food


The osprey only dives about 3 feet below the water's surface but they dive from heights of 30-100 feet to get it.

It's estimated that an osprey only has to hunt for about 12 minutes or so before snagging a meal. They're also successful about 70% of the time in making the catch.

They have unusual claws with an extra part of the toe that other raptors do not have. It's thought that this is what enables them to keep their firm hold on the fish.

They usually fish in shallow water where fish are easily seen though if necessary, they dive for fish swimming in schools close to the surface in deeper waters.

Their prey usually is about 13-16 inches long and fish that weigh less than a pound up to several pounds.

They carry the fish in their talons with the head facing the same direction as their own to cut down on wind drag.

Length
Weight
Wingspan
21-23 inches
3-5 pounds
5-6 feet
Males are distinguishable usually only by narrower wings and the females have a brown necklace on their front chest whereas the males do not--they are pure white.

Differences Between Osprey and Bald Eagles


The osprey is oftentimes confused with the bald eagle. The osprey is smaller than the bald eagle.

The entire underbelly of the osprey is white while the only white on a bald eagle is the tail and the head.

The osprey has a distinctive black stripe on the side of his or her head and the bald eagle's head is pure white with no markings.

Ospreys build their nests out in the open while bald eagles do not. The osprey is adapted to building their nests atop anything that is flat and above the ground such as utility poles, light poles, etc. The other pair that is nesting a few miles further west from the pair photographed above have their nest atop a light pole at the baseball field.

Osprey nests are very flat and not as heavy as bald eagle nests. However, as ospreys return to their nests every year, the nests do grow in size.

Osprey in flight on a beautiful summer day over the reservoir.
Osprey in flight on a beautiful summer day over the reservoir.

Osprey as an Endangered Species


Thanks to the banning of DDT and other pesticides, the numbers for ospreys look better. These magnificent birds can be seen on every continent in the world except Antarctica.

Unfortunately, their greatest enemy is human. With urban sprawl, even though the osprey is adept at nesting and coexisting with people, they run the risk of diminishing in numbers again due to issues like pollution.

When they fish in unclean waters, the concentration of the pollutant is magnified because the larger fish eat smaller fish and the percentage of the toxicity increases proportionately.

It's also estimated that 10% of osprey chicks die each year due to baling wire mishaps. Ospreys build their nests from mostly large sticks but after the nest's shape is formed, they add to the nest with moss, leaves, string, etc. As you can see in the pictures above, there's some red fluffy material that's part of this nest as well as something that looks suspiciously like hose material. The nesting ospreys pick up baling wire and use it to add to their nests but it can be a death trap for adults as well as chicks. If their unusual talons get tangled in it, they sometimes can't get loose and die.

The osprey will also nest on power lines and wires and electrocution is not uncommon.

Osprey usually lay roughly 3 eggs which do not hatch all at the same time. They can hatch as many as 5 days apart. The most aggressive feeders will survive.

A cautious eye on the environment is needed to help preserve these beautiful birds of prey. They are truly one of nature's most captivating birds.

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Comments 16 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Hi Nif--every time you turn around another species it seems is becoming endangered...yes, osprey are very good at adapting thankfully. Thanks so much for the read and will keep the Tasmanians in my thoughts for recovery.


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Gorgeous photos of such a beautiful bird! I'm surprised they will make a nest on a man-made platform - it seems like they are adapting to urban living better than the Tasmanian wedge tails (who are highly endangered). Great hub!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Awesome, BJ - I couldn't believe that one day I was shooting and shooting pics of the pelicans, mesmerized and when I snapped I thought "OMG - did I just see what I thought I saw? A bird carrying a whole fish?" I had forgotten all about that picture too until I went to watch my new fine feathered friends~~

They are remarkable birds - I think I go for the big birds because I can actually SEE them~ Too funny - I love to watch them dive, too - hopefully I'll get some action shots one of these days with my shooting of 800 pictures! Oy vey - I need a picture assistant~ Wanna volunteer??


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Fascinating osprey details and awesome photos, Audrey. We have ospreys in Florida, too. If you drive from Miami to Key West, as you get further into the Everglades, you can see osprey nests on a multitude of telphone poles. Sometimes you can even see a large osprey. With or without a fish.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks Aviannovice for stopping by - I could photograph birds forever and be a happy camper. They are just so amazing in their behaviors and their remarkable forms~ Glad you get to see them too!


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Excellent material, Audrey. They were in ME and DE, too, so I am familiar with them. They are beautiful birds.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Oh Virginia~~ Fabulous idea!! Thanks for the tip and will do it right away.....love them because I can actually SEE them~


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States

Love the photos of the Ospreys. I got some nice shots on a river trip near Grant's pass last year. Hey, I think adding a map capsule with maybe some pins on specific places that they often nest would be great on this Hub! I like how you included the facts about these wonderful birds. Voted up and posted to Facebook.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Wherever you find your peace to shoot is great~ I used to do a lot of backyard because we had bird feeders galore but with the advent of malamutes and living directly on a wetlands, I had to give up (sadly) all the feeders. We had so many unwelcome "guests" which were driving our dogs insane...skunks, badgers, DEER - they actually ate the feeders--rats--to name a few. I really miss the birds so now must go out and about to try and capture them--but it's all good. I can still capture my wooly mammoths in my backyard...and the occasional bee~

Oh my - I'd so be in trouble if it was film I was working with. Bob tried to talk me into photography years ago and I couldn't "get" it - the focusing part so I gave it up. I only picked up my (his) camera when I started on hubpages - funny how life changes your views. Now I can't put it down! He just sighs though...our recent trip to Crater Lake...Bob 100 pictures, Audrey 800 pictures...but I do usually get the 'shot' - who couldn't by taking that many? I say it's just luck or my OCD traits~ He says it's the law of averages...too hilarious.

Glad Monique likes to shoot photos though - I do find that it calms me and I lose all track of time just standing there watching something so enthralling. I literally fell off the side of our SUV one day as I was standing on the running board trying to follow a blue heron as it flew past me...Bob said it was a miracle I didn't fall into the pond! I'd have never lived that one down - as it was, I tweaked my ankle landing on the ground - but I kept hold of the camera!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

Two different styles! Aren't you glad for digital cameras? (I can remember blowing through miles of film in the old days.) I prefer your approach, only it's more like a couple of hundred photos to get one good one. It's obvious you've logged a LOT of time behind the lens. Monique's good with a camera also, but with her agoraphobia she specializes in macro shots of small life in the back yard.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks, Crewman--it's a passion thing and before I know it, I've shot 300 with ONE camera...and then I have to go home and go through them all. I just somehow get rooted to the spot though when I see something amazing and try so hard to capture it. Bob always says he needs to bring a book or a portable TV as my "give me a couple minutes" turns into about 1-1/2 hours~ He does photography too but he's the guy who gets out, frames the shot (perfectly) and is done...goes back to the car and here's Audrey...standing in the pouring rain or snow, or up to my ankles in mud.....ah well~ I just love snapping the photos but when I'm going through them DO wish I'd maybe shot a few less~ Gotta go back and watch the "kids" start to fly one of these days too!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 4 years ago

Awesome images, and an amazing hub. You have a wonderful skill with your photographs.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Thanks Om - one of my favorite things to do...snap birds but especially bigger ones so I can see them~


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

I wasn't familiar with Ospreys at all. Thanks for these lovely pictures and interesting facts, Audrey. I've learned a lot from this hub. Rated up and tweeted!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Cool Suhail - I love them as well - they are truly unique and though I love bald eagles and goldens...and...and...and...they are amazing because of their great diving skills. And you gotta love a bird that you can actually SEE~ Thanks for stopping in.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 4 years ago from Mississauga, ON

First.

I love Ospreys. I have taken many pictures of them mating and of their nests on different lakesides close to where I live (Western side of Greater Toronto Area).

The hub itself, with beautiful pictures and great videos, is very informative. You did a great job on explaining the difference between Ospreys and Bald Eagles. I have found many people confusing one with another.

Thank you for sharing a hub on Ospreys.

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