Editor’s note: Four Rivers is very excited to welcome Donna Cole, of Annapolis Creative, as our guest blogger for spring! We’ll hear about the birds migrating through the area over the next few months, from someone who really knows her subject!
The Chesapeake is our backyard and since it’s now March (insert applause), we absolutely, positively have to talk about one bird in particular. It is our harbinger of spring. And it’s the osprey.
While some maintain ospreys arrive back to our area exactly on St. Patrick’s Day every year, I have yet to personally witness that. And yes, because I occasionally have way too much time on my hands, I do look for them on St. Patrick’s Day. And pretty much every day in March. Whatever the exact day, ospreys return from their winter homes in Florida, the Caribbean, Central and South America in March. Maybe some might be a little late and others a tad early (one was seen last weekend on Kent Island and one last week at Fort Smallwood Park), March really is the month of the osprey for us.
Ospreys often return to their same nest locations, with their same mates. They mate for life and though they don’t necessarily spend the winter months together, or make their long journey back to us talon-in-talon, osprey couples return to the same nest / nest area within days of one another. Their first job upon return – build / rebuild their nests, which you will see in trees, on platforms, poles, lights and channel markers/buoys. That building / rebuilding process does take some time – they need just the right building material (sticks/branches) and it’s a one-branch-at-a-time selection and delivery process. It’s slow going. As time progresses, mating takes place, then eggs, then babies. The beauty of all of this is we can often watch every step of the process with those birds that make their nests within our viewing distance. Take for instance those on platforms in waterfront communities, the nest at the foot of the South River Bridge, southbound/Annapolis side, or the ones in the light above the athletic field at Truxtun Park – just a few examples of many within the Four Rivers Heritage Area. Ospreys are fish-eating, birds of prey and like other raptors, you will often see them getting mobbed by crows. Ospreys leave in the fall, though in recent history there have been sightings of some year-round within the Chesapeake watershed – I’ve seen one in December in Annapolis.
The following websites offer loads of great information about ospreys –
Very informative, lots of resources, osprey platform plans and you can register to become an osprey watcher – http://www.osprey-watch.org/
Follow ospreys as they migrate – http://www.ospreytrax.com/OspreyMainPage.html
Very important information for home/boat/business owners should ospreys decide to nest on your property – http://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/osprey.html
Chesapeake Conservancy’s Osprey Cam – http://www.chesapeakeconservancy.org/osprey-cam
To learn more about our local birds, join the MD Birding group on Facebook. It offers a wealth of information and beautiful photos by Maryland’s bird-enthusiasts – https://www.facebook.com/groups/MDBirding/
Images above: top, Osprey by Donna L. Cole; bottom, Osprey montage by Donna L. Cole.
— Donna Cole, Annapolis Creative