Parenting, Osprey Style
One of the most magnificent birds in South Florida is the Osprey. This past week, my husband and I revisited this great “Fish Hawk” at its Flamingo nesting grounds in Everglades National Park. One nest, positioned atop a dead Saw Palmetto and near the visitor parking lot provided excellent viewing. (Note: Some files are large and though optimized may require a bit longer than normal to load. Some optimization artifacts are also evident. Sorry!)
The chicks on this nest seemed nearly full grown. Notice that their coloration is slightly lighter and more mottled than their parent. The father has an all white breast and the mother’s breast has a scattered necklace of brown feathers.
The nest’s depth kept both chicks hidden from view. Although I couldn’t see inside, based on other nests in the area, I assume it was lined with soft Spanish moss. When the parents weren’t on the nest, at least one of them could be seen close by on a nearby tree.
While I watched, mother Osprey arrived with some new nesting material. Both the ranger, who happened to be observing, and I were mystified at this latest addition. Was she shoring the nest up due to the increasing weight it must bear or was she simply . . .
When a chick became hungry it would call loudly until dinner arrived.
Mother Osprey carefully tore off small pieces of fresh fish and fed them to each hungry youngster.
After dinner, both parents retired to nearby trees leaving the chicks alone in the nest. One chick took this opportunity to try spreading its wings. It wobbled and seemed to have trouble figuring out what to do with such long appendages.
As we prepared to leave two other parents arrived. It seems this Red-bellied Woodpecker couple also laid claim to the old palmetto as a perfect location for raising a family.
Humm . . . Do you think old palmetto trees might give maternity wards a run for their money?