Bella & Beau 2018: Laying and Incubating

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

April 24, 2018

So far Bella and Beau seem to be performing great teamwork.  Ospreys usually have a clutch of 2-4 eggs.  I’m positive Bella laid an egg on April 17, evidenced by Bella’s start of incubation.  After the first egg is laid, any additional eggs will generally follow every three days thereafter.  By now, there could be three eggs.

During these intense several days, I’ve watched Bella do a lot of panting.  It’s certainly not hot here, our temps are in the 50’s F.  Labored breathing?

Bella panting


Beau seems bewildered at times.  When Bella pants, Beau leaves the nest and perches across the creek and keeps watch.

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Beau keeping watch


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Bella incubating, Beau keeping watch


No matter how many eggs there are, the nest must increase in size and strength to support the family.

Beau brings a stick and works on placement while Bella watches


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Many sticks are falling to the dock below the nest


Bella returns with more soft materials for the egg cup surrounding the eggs, Beau is incubating


So, how do I know who is who?  In this next photo, you can see the difference between Beau (perched) and Bella (in the nest).  The female Osprey is larger than the male and usually has a darker, more speckled chest (or her ‘necklace’).

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Beau (left) and Bella (right)


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Another portrait, Bella is in the back, Beau in the foreground


Bella obviously needs breaks.  If Beau is not on the nest, Bella calls out to him.  Sometimes I have no idea where he is, but he knows when his lady is calling and comes pronto.

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Beau perched close by this time


Bella loves her breaks but she has been quick to return to the nest.  For the most part, the female Osprey generally does most of the incubating.

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Bella on flight break


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Bella returns to find Beau doing a great job incubating


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But time to take back over, so Bella swooshes Beau off the nest


I have also noticed Bella has been asking Beau to bring her food.  Again, Bella starts calling and across the skies comes Beau with a fish.  Notice the fish is headless.  The male Osprey generally eats the head and brings the rest to his mate.

“I’m coming, Bella!”


I loved this next series of Bella returning to the nest again, taking back over her motherly duties while Beau jumps up to the perch to keep watch.


And through it all, there needs to be a time for rest.

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Bella gets a chance to sleep while Beau keeps guard.


So where does that put the time for hatching?  Osprey eggs hatch in the same sequence as they were laid, in about 4 to 5 weeks time.  That calculates the first egg hatching around May 15 -22.  My calendar is marked!


(For all the posts on Bella & Beau’s 2018 season, you can click HERE.)



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