Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nesting Osprey - Massachusetts

In the winter of 2013-14 I began to photograph wildlife, beginning with Snowy Owls along the MA and NH seacoast. As the warmer weather has sent many of them home to the arctic I started to look for a new subject to focus on locally. A friend pointed out a local spot for birding and I jumped at the chance to check it out. Among the many species of small birds present I was surprised and delighted to see an active Osprey nest at one end of the pond.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are a distinctively shaped hawk with slender bodies, long narrow wings and long leg . They have been nicknamed "fish hawk" or "fish eagle" as their diet consists almost 100% of fish. They are diurnal hunters meaning they hunt during the daytime. They can be found worldwide in a variety of habitats but are commonly found near the seacoast and in swamps or marshes. Similar to the Bald Eagle in that they are proficient in fishing they are somewhat smaller in size weighing 49-70oz (3-4.5lbs) and 21-23 inches in body length with a wingspan of 60-70 inches. They are a unique hawk in that they have a reversible toe that allows them to more easily grab slippery fish.

This is Aubrey and Hazel, named after my grandparents who were a big influence on me when I was growing up. My grandfather taught me about the outdoors and fishing, I would spend much of my summers with them working in the garden and fishing with my grandfather. I first met Aubrey on April 12th when I saw him circling the pond with a fresh catch. I did not see Hazel this day but it would not be long until I made her acquaintance.

Aubrey and Hazel in the nest © 2014 David Wornham Photography

Aubrey with lunch. © 2014 David Wornham Photography

This pair is nesting near the top of an old dead tree about 60 feet above the marshy end of the pond. In the mornings between 8:30 and 9am I usually find Hazel sitting low in the nest. I presume that Aubrey is off fishing or collecting material for the nest. When I visit in the afternoon after 2pm on many days I have found both present. Some days Aubrey sits in a tree at the far end of the marsh watching over the nest.

Hazel calling for her mate © 2014 David Wornham Photography
April 16th...I stopped by for a visit shortly before 9am to see how they were getting along. Hazel was again sitting in the nest but I did not have to wait long for Aubrey to show up. He arrived with an offering of nesting material for his wife, she seemed pleased. He stayed long enough to give her his present and sit for a minute then went off again for more. I assume they are getting the nest ready for breeding and hope to see chicks in several weeks time.

© 2014 David Wornham Photography  

© 2014 David Wornham Photography

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