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Observations & Images
15 February 2006

I approached the nest with a sinking feeling today because not only were no Ospreys present but the nest looked like it had partially collapsed. This turned out not to be true since comparing it with earlier pictures shows it to be about the same if not a little bit bigger. A unique edition is the tangled mass of yellow rope that has been added since my last visit. I'm sorry I missed the Ospreys bringing that up to the nest!
Shortly after arriving I located the female Osprey sitting mostly obscured on a limb below the nest on the other side of the pine tree. The male arrived carrying a very small fish which brought the female over near to watch him eat. Alan Poole notes that Ospreys in the courtship phase will provide the food for the other until, as egg-laying nears, the male takes over that entire responsibility by bringing food to the female in the nest. In this case, the male Osprey completely ignored the female and did not share his meager dinner despite her obvious interest.
After the male finished off the fish, both Ospreys returned to the nest where another round of mating occurred. I have observed the birds mating on each of my visits so far.
After mating there was a long period where the Ospreys sat in the nest with their backs to each other. Eventually the male flew off and returned carrying a stick to begin working on the nest again while the female returned to her perch on the opposite side of the pine tree where she had been when I had arrived.


Alerted by Pelican Island NWR Ranger Joanna Taylor that there was another Osprey nest just a short distance south of my pair's nest, I went to investigate with the idea of making occasional visits to compare levels of progress. The south nest is entirely different from the north nest. Whether the tree provided a better platform or perhaps these Ospreys are just better builders, the south nest is a compact, solid looking construction compared with the haphazard heap that marks the appearance of the north nest. But that's the north nest's charm. Though it looks to be a solidly built home, it turns out the neighborhood the south nest is in may not make it an ideal place to live.
Partially hidden in the trees quite close to the south nest were two Great Horned Owls. Both of the Owls rarely moved their gaze from the Osprey nest and the lone Osprey guarding it. Through Osprey nest surveys conducted in the northeast, Alan Poole believes the Great Horned Owl will feed on incubating female Ospreys which is when they are most defenseless based on the carcass remains he has found. On the other hand, these Owls will take over unused nests as their own and since the Great Horned Owl starts nesting in Florida at about the same time as the Ospreys they may just be house hunting.
Whatever the case may be, when the lone Osprey at the south nest flew off one of the Great Horned Owls immediately snapped to attention and, showing great daring, flew into the Osprey nest. There it proceeded to do a careful inspection showing great interest in the nest. This time, at least, the Owl found nothing to dine on.
Loitering in the nest for a few moments, the Great Horned Owl eventually flew back into the pine trees where it was joined by its companion. Almost hidden from view through the pine boughs and the fading light of oncoming dusk, the Owls stood side by side producing a cacophony of loud hooting which they kept up as I packed my gear and departed.
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OspreyWatch by Bob Montanaro
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