Lovely, Lonely Osprey

By . July 1st, 2016. Posted in Wildlife
The male swoops in with a sturdy branch.

The male swoops in with a sturdy branch.

Spring arrived with the usual flurry of osprey wings, nest-building, and overhead territorial squabbles. The July 4th holiday, however, finds us without the anticipated flourishing osprey family. As we look toward the water, the lovely female osprey sits alone on her empty nest.

Our osprey pair seemed to get an early start on nesting season, with Mike diligently doing his usual carry-branches-to-the-shoreline routine to help them along. Then the winds came. The starter nest was blown completely from the platform, so off went the birds to find more branches (and Mike to help replenish their supply). Days later, an unusually fierce wind (and endless amounts of rain, rain, rain) repeated the nest destruction.

Windblown ospreys on nest #1.

Windblown ospreys on nest #1.

And on nest #2.

And on nest #2.

"Go away! This is our nest!"

“Go away! This is our nest!”

As they began their third (!) nest, another team of ospreys swooped into the territory. Scuffles for our nest platform have become more frequent in the past few years, so the challenge was not surprising. But it went on…and on…and on. Our duo was on constant lookout duty. Each time the nest-builders would venture out for new branches, the challengers would reappear and the fight was on again.

Ultimately, the weather and competitive battles appeared to drain so much energy from the first-comers that they missed their breeding window altogether. The male seemed to realize he had the summer off and began to venture elsewhere. He’s mostly absent now, with only occasional visits to the nest site.

Our lovely female passing the summer days on her favorite perch.

Our lovely female passing the summer days on her favorite perch.

The female, however, has remained, day after day on her favorite perch, an upright support on the nest platform. While her life this summer is certainly easier, we wonder if she senses the loss. Every now and then, she brings a few new branches to the scruffy nest. When we saw her add two more this morning, Mike said, “Maybe she is rehearsing for next year.” We hope so.


  1. Ann Engelman
    10:18 am on 7/4/16

    Oh Kathy. . .so sad. Mother Nature keeps us humble, birds too I guess. I’m glad she feels ownership of the perch. Yes! Hope for next year. . .many thanks for the update!

  2. Cynthia Fenneman
    11:52 am on 7/4/16

    What a stressful time for your ospreys.
    Here’s to a much calmer season next year with sweet offspring!

  3. Kathy
    1:50 pm on 7/4/16

    Thanks, Ann and Cynthia. We always marvel at the ospreys’ ability to raise a family on their very-exposed nest platform. This season’s outcome makes us even more aware of the delicate balance they have to maintain to be successful.

  4. Andrea
    4:47 pm on 7/4/16

    Animals are so resilient. They seem to have the zen “it is what it is” attitude perfected. The ospreys around here seem to “decorate” their nests with ribbons, paper goods and all kinds of human detritus.

  5. Sharon
    5:13 pm on 7/4/16

    Beautifully written, expressing, loss, hope, beauty, perserverence. We love our Ospreys.

  6. Kathy
    9:45 pm on 7/4/16

    Thanks so much, Andrea and Sharon. Ospreys (and other wildlife) are such role models for the “live in the moment” philosophy. As you’ve seen with your own osprey neighbors, the mating pairs have such dedication to each other and their growing chicks. So far, this female seems committed to her claim on the nest, even on her own. She is such a pretty bird…we hope she stays the summer.

  7. Mary Beth Hueter
    5:34 pm on 7/14/16

    ‘….the male seemed to realize he had the summer off…’ love that. actually love this whole sad story. the female seems to know what she should be doing. is she lamenting her losses? or hoping for a chick? or I too anthropomorphic?

  8. Kathy
    10:06 am on 7/23/16

    I would love to be able to read her mind, Mary Beth. As August approaches, she is still adding a few branches and fiercely defending the nest site from interloping ospreys. Thanks for musing along with us!

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