Bella & Beau 2018: Nest Protection and Attack

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

May 27, 2018

Since their last post, the skies cleared and Bella & Beau were able to dry out in the sunshine and breezes.  They have continued to show great interest on something that’s within their nesting cup.  Both parents are also still getting up and down more often while incubating/brooding.

Dare I say it?  Okay…..with my binoculars I’ve seen Bella trying to feed.  She picks at something within the nest, and then gently moves her head and goes back down with it.  Bella watches for a bit, and then tries again or resettles back onto the nest.

I love watching the parents peering down in the nest.  Sometimes you see a look of bewilderment.  Or a questioning look.  Or maybe a bit of a scared look.

Bella & Beau are always looking down into the nest.

 

The nest is getting a bit bigger but still has a long ways to go if it’s going to harbor one or more chicks safely.

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Bella smiling for the camera.

 

Keeping up with his chores while staying close to the nest, Beau still tries to fish here in the creek.

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Beau circling the creek looking for a fish to snatch.

 

Suddenly, Beau spots a fish in the water.

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No luck this time, so Beau gave up and took off for the river.

With so much around them, protection of the Osprey nest is constant.  If only one parent is on the nest, naps are seconds in length.  Eyes reopen quickly for a look, then close back for a 10-second nod.  When one is perched at home, the other can get a deeper sleep.

Beau scratching with those enormous, sharp talons while on nest protection duty, giving Bella a chance to sleep.

 

Bella & Beau have been relentless with harmless ‘scare’ attacks against Gus, the Canada Goose.  Gus seems to have had enough and moved on for now.  I miss his honking, although I’m guessing Bella & Beau do not.

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Gus says, “I am outta here!”

 

Besides, Bella & Beau have others to deal with, like Eagles passing over.

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American Bald Eagle

 

This morning I heard chaos and watched Bella chase a black crow.  Photos were lousy.

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Bella in pursuit of a black crow flying over the nest.

 

The Great Blue Herons are definitely unliked.  I’ve seen three at one time perched around the creek, so they are often visiting or flying through.  No matter, Bella & Beau forces them away when they’re too close for comfort.

Osprey attacks on Great Blue Herons

 

Yesterday, there was a traumatic attack on the nest that still has me rattled.  As I watched Beau making his way across the sky with a stick, Bella started screaming and looking up.  Overhead the other local Osprey pair were circling above the nest.  They do this every day, always agitating Bella & Beau.  No big deal, right?

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Intruding Osprey pair circling over Bella in the nest.

 

Beau heard Bella and sees them too.

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Beau rushes to the nest while he watches the intruding Osprey overhead.

 

Beau arrived to the nest and took an immediate defense stance alongside Bella.  Both are now screaming frantically.  Quite unexpectedly to me, one of the intruding overhead Osprey dive-bombed the nest.

What the heck just happened?  I think my heart jumped out of my chest right then.  Bella & Beau were still screaming.   As the first intruder circled around the nest…..

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Osprey intruder circling around.

 

…..suddenly, the second intruding Osprey dive-bombed the nest.   I captured shots this time.

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Second intruding Osprey attacking Bella & Beau in their nest.

 

Bella & Beau are now in high-defense mode.  Their screams are ear-piercing.

Bella & Beau (foreground) watching and screaming at the intruding Osprey circling.

 

Bella & Beau see a third attack coming!

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Beau spreads his wings to cover the nest while Bella screams frantically.

 

One of the intruding Osprey swoops in again.

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Intruding Osprey swoops down over Bella & Beau for a third attack.

 

Then just as quickly as the attacks started, the traumatic event was over, and the intruding Osprey flew off together.  Bella & Beau finally calmed down and quickly view their nest.

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Bella & Beau viewing their nesting cup after the attacks.

 

I truly hope no damage occurred within the nest.  🙁

I have not seen the local intruding Osprey pair do this before, nor any other time of pairs over the years.  I contacted one of the Osprey experts at Blackwater NWR and asked about this attack.  Lisa commented, “It’s not uncommon for a single intruder Osprey that is unmated and without a nest to try and push in on a couple.  Often they want to replace one of the pair and become the new adult at the nest. They’ll even do it when eggs or chicks are already there.  Sometimes the new adult will kick out the eggs or get rid of the chicks. It’s like they know the chicks are not theirs.” 

Bella & Beau’s attack was by an established pair so the attack doesn’t make so much sense.

“About the best you can hope for is the adults will drive off any intruders, and the intruders will give up before the eggs/chicks are harmed.”

I know the intruding Osprey live close by, having not been successful with mating and eggs.  They do seem to torment poor Bella & Beau every day.

Since the attack, business seems as usual at the nest.  Beau’s bringing sticks, Bella’s tending to the nest, and nest protection continues.

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Bella & Beau early this morning after a night of showers.

 

After such a suspenseful post, I’ll end with some pretty images of Bella & Beau that’ll hopefully help calm down your racing heart… or is it just mine?

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Beau taking flight from the nest while Bella incubates.

 

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Bella

 

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Beau

 

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Bella

 

The coming week’s forecast is calling for mostly cloudy, humid conditions with rain and t-storms.  Hopefully, it won’t be too rough on Bella & Beau as they continue to instinctively protect and care for their nest and each other.

 

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

 

 

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