Very soon, around March 2, I expect to hear a sharp and distinct "cheep, cheep" from above and to look up to see the first of the arriving Ospreys as they return from their wintering grounds in South America. Almost immediately, the monogamous pair of Osprey will start to work repairing the very nests (typically built on pilings and day markers in our local waterways) they had vacated months ago for their journey south. The sound of dead tree limbs popping can be heard through the trees as the birds fly through woods snapping them off and carrying them in their talons back to the nest.
There seems to be plenty of time for play and courtship type frolicking as they do amazing feats of aerobatics, chasing each other in a series of rapid dives, twists, and turns that would put the Blue Angels to shame.
After the nests are readied, two to four eggs are laid. Following an incubation of 35-42 days the chicks are born and more work begins for the parents as they must hunt and catch fish to feed the entire family.
Osprey will often hover then plunge near vertically, feet first, for the catch then off they go to the nest while holding the fish facing into the wind for minimum drag. The parents share in this duty but one always stays on the nest or nearby and all other critters beware as the Osprey are commonly seen chasing off any thing that comes near the nest, even the mighty bald eagle.
The next phase is the appearance of the chicks as they peer over the edge of the nest. In a few weeks they are fledglings and are seen constantly flapping and stretching their wings in preparation for their flying lessons. We sometimes have to retrieve them from the water below as they have fallen out of the nest. The parents are appreciative but certainly do raise quite a fuss.
Urbanna Cruises invites you reserve a cruise for up to six and join us in welcoming the return of these amazing raptors and to witness, first hand, this intense drama in their life cycle. It is a grand performance that may be viewed through September from our quiet boat without disturbing the birds. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of the Osprey and the surrounding landscape.