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Ospreys Laying Eggs

5-5-15 osprey 266Ospreys are late-season breeders compared to other raptors of their size, and are just starting to lay and incubate their eggs in the Northeast. This is thought to be an adaptive delay to allow ice to break up and to allow fish to move into shallow waters. (In years of late ice-out, ospreys may not breed.)

Both male and female ospreys incubate their 1 – 4 eggs, but the female generally does a majority of it, and nearly always is the incubator at night. The male typically brings the incubating female food, which she takes to a nearby perch to eat while he sits on the eggs. Once the eggs hatch (in about 5 weeks) the young are brooded by the female. The male does the fishing, bringing his prey back to the nest, eating his fill and then giving it to his mate to tear into small bits and feed to their nestlings.

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11 responses

  1. April

    If you want watch nesting in action (somewhat more action than watching paint dry) try: http://www.whoi.edu/ospreycam/page.do?pid=41055

    May 6, 2015 at 6:41 am

  2. Marilyn

    The startled/bed-head look! Osprey and eagles make exciting neighbors.
    A nest the eagles started last fall seems to be the choice of the osprey this year. Last year the eagles took over an old osprey nest after their huge old eagle nest crashed to the ground.

    May 6, 2015 at 8:06 am

  3. I love that there are many nest cams to watch the goings on up close and personal. My favorite is the Hellgate ospreys in Missoula, MT, linked through Cornell. It’s a great view with lots going on besides the birds. 🙂

    May 6, 2015 at 9:05 am

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    On Isle au Haut there is a contest each year to guess the return date of the ospreys that nest on the spindle near the harbor. The date of return is usually between April 15-19. Everyone puts in a dollar and their name on the calendar, and the winner takes the pot.

    May 6, 2015 at 9:06 am

    • How great! Much more fun than guessing when the chair on the ice will fall into the water!

      May 6, 2015 at 1:14 pm

  5. Yep, in the Canadian Arctic we saw lots of eagles, peregrines, and hawks, but no ospreys. We figured that must be because ice-out on the lakes doesn’t occur till late July. There’s too little time after that to fledge a brood and get ’em out of there before the snowstorms of August.

    May 6, 2015 at 9:15 am

  6. chris crowley

    We have some great, very visible nests here along the Columbia River. They use river markers/buoys every year.
    We also have an amazing eagle nest high atop a highway cloverleaf light. It was taken down last year, but they’re building it back now.

    May 6, 2015 at 10:35 am

    • How sad the eagle nest was taken down, Chris. I just watched cliff swallows in the same situation, and I think if the people who tore down the nests knew how much work went into making them, they might think twice.

      May 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm

  7. Penny March

    The osprey cam in Bremen, ME shows one egg so far. http://explore.org/live-cams/player/osprey-nest

    May 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

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