I’m not certain if the osprey is my favourite raptor because of its striking appearance or because I have had the good fortune to be able to photograph them with their young for several years.
I’m in the process of finishing a photography book celebrating ten years of shooting photos in the Lardeau Valley. And not surprisingly, the osprey features very prominently in my celebration.
So I thought I show you some of the scenes I was privy to in that 10 year period. All mainly to do with the family in the nest. It was such a pleasure to be able to watch the young grow and interact with their parents. I often wonder in the second and third year which of the offspring I was watching raise their own brood. I’m fairly confident the same family returns every year. Of course, I could have been watching the same parents each year with a new brood. Hard to tell.
In any event, the rules of parenthood remained the same each time – Feed Me! Feed Me!!.
But first, can you see us?
Mother and kids were always very vocal in calling the male back and welcoming him home with breakfast, lunch and dinner and of course snacks. In the photo above he brought back the ‘end’ of a fish that I had watched him munch on in a tree near by.
Kids are not patient and these were no exception, keeping the female very busy feeding them.
At the end of the season, I wondered how they had managed to keep the nest so clean. There would be the odd fish bone or ten and lots of feathers but that was usually all. I couldn’t figure out how they had removed the ‘poop’ that the young had to have produced while stuck in the nest. Then I captured this shot and well…it explained all. Very clever.
And they did this from the first moments they could move. Sometimes with hilarious results as they either almost fell out of the nest or did a nose dive back into the nest. Nature is very clever.
With time the offspring grew and were more demanding
In the above photograph I learned how delineated the roles of the parents are. The male fishes and the female feeds. In fact it seemed the male really didn’t know how to feed the young. He would bring a fish in and the female would take it from him and rip it up for the young, feeding them one bite at a time. On the few occasions that I saw him come in alone with a fish, he didn’t seem to know what to do with it. He would drop it, maybe have a bite and then usually fly away. In this case he was busy feeding himself while the one tried to figure out how to eat a fishtail. It did eventually manage to chow down on it.
To be continued.