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April 10, 2013

The Osprey are back fishing at Kootenay Lake and checking out the nest sites that they left last year. The buds are coming out on the trees, the grass is greening up and I can hear the creek roaring with spring melt. It may be rainy and chilly this morning but I do like April.

first Osprey of 2013

The first Osprey I have seen in 2013

I watched an Osprey hover and then plummet into the water and then emerge with a fish yesterday. Osprey do not actually dive into the water but rely on their formidable claws to pierce and grab the fish. Their powerful wings can pull them from the water’s surface and back into the air with the fish. Their claws “lock” into the fish and it can be difficult for an Osprey to release a fish that is too large or powerful to lift from the water. I have seen an Osprey with a fish bullied out of its prize by a Bald Eagle. Osprey and Bald Eagles often seem to confront each other often over resources such as fish or nesting sites and nesting materials.

Two Osprey females "talking it over"

Two Osprey females “talking it over”

The female Osprey is larger than the male and spends more time incubating eggs and brooding young. You can often hear the female calling from the nest until the male comes in with a fish. The male does most of the fishing until the young are much larger and more demanding and then both adults are kept busy fishing. The male also brings fish to the female on the nest during “courting” – fish is important to maintaining the pair bond. Osprey pairs stay together for several seasons.

Osprey eggs hatch asynchronously – the first hatched will be larger than the second hatched who is larger than the third hatched. In a good year, all the young may survive, but if resources are limited, then the largest young demand and get the most food. It may seem harsh, but the resources go to the most likely to survive.

An Osprey chased by a crow

An Osprey chased by a crow

I hope that the pair I watch most often will have young this year. There are crows nesting nearby and people often camp overnight beneath the nest. If the birds are frightened from the nest, the crows can steal in and eat the eggs. But the Osprey have raised young two out of the last three seasons and perhaps this year will be another good year.

I have posted some of my favourite Osprey pictures here.

Young Osprey feeding on the ground

Young Osprey feeding on the ground

An Osprey landing on the nest

An Osprey landing on the nest

An Osprey looking for fish

An Osprey feeding on fish

all writing and photos copyright Joanne Siderius 2013.

  1. Beautiful photos! Just last week, I watched an Osprey take a drive into the lake in our backyard. He munched on the fish for over an hour.

    • Nice! they seem to like eating the head first – brain food…

      • You’re right, he did tackle the head first. One of these days, I’d like to invest in a better camera. Thanks for the terrific pictures.

  2. Trudy Bloem permalink

    Beautiful photos!

  3. Derek permalink

    I was at Crescent Valley a short while ago, saw an Osprey across the river, stopped to take a shot, and it dove right in front of me.

    • very, very, very, cool photos Derek! I have yet to capture an osprey diving – at least with non-blurry photos! It is wonderful watching an osprey in action – magnificent birds. Thanks for sharing the photos!

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