Living in Northern California offers nature lovers many opportunities to view wildlife in their native habitat. Living near the Sacramento River and its many lakes and tributaries makes it even more likely to see the incredible fish hawk or sea eagle we call the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Click on photos for full sized images.
Osprey can be found on all continents of the world except Antarctica, on or near any body of water allowing them access to an adequate supply of their nearly exclusive prey, live fish.
Most of the Osprey breeding in North America are migratory, only Florida, the Caribbean and Baja California host non-migratory breeders1. In migratory populations males usually arrive to breeding grounds a few days before the females and look for nest sites.
Osprey pairs usually form at the nest site where females are fed almost exclusively by their mates prior to egg laying behavior1. Here you see nest building activity as the female watches the male, who brings in the bulk of nesting material.
The female then flies to the opposite side of the nest and begins preening, interspersed with solicitation calls to the male who brings in more nesting material.
Copulation begins a couple of weeks before egg laying and usually occurs at the nest. Osprey copulate frequently and, on average, around 160 times per clutch1!
Note how the male retracts his talons as he approaches the female to copulate…
protecting his mate from those razor sharp claws.
This pair copulated several times while I was observing. The video below will give you a better idea of the full extent of Osprey Love!
References: 1Birds of North America Online
A fish may love a bird, but where would they live?
Bird Love Week is seven days of exploration of avian amore here on 10,000 Birds from April 22-28. We love birds, and the topic of birds loving other birds and in the process making more birds is a fascinating one we know you will enjoy. Mike, Corey, and a bevy of Beat Writers have been working on this one for awhile as the perfect expression of our love of all things avian. To see all of our Bird Love Week posts, just click here. But be warned – Bird Love Week is neither for the faint of heart nor for the permanently prudish – you may end up with images that you never imagined seared onto your brain.