Bella & Beau 2018: Good News, Sad News, and Another Nest Attack

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

June 6, 2018

A lot has happened since last week’s post announcing the arrival of Bella & Beau’s two chicks.  The good news it is wonderful to report they are thriving and growing.  Look how big they are as of today!

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Bella along side their chicks while Beau keeps a lookout for intruders. (6/6/18)


Following my last post and another day of rainy weather, I was looking through my binoculars and had to rub my eyes twice and look again.  Was I seeing a third hatchling?  Here’s two photos.

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Bella and her three chicks.


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All three chicks with mouths opened, begging for Bella’s next piece of fish.


I watched Bella feed the three chicks for two days.  And then the weather went foul again.  For two days it rained, many times it down-poured.  It got quite chilly, almost cold.

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Bella spread over her chicks while enduring a heavy mid-morning downpour 6/3/18.


Finally the precipitation stopped, and Monday we started drying out.  I watched for feedings to get a head count and take more photos to post.  Beau was back at work bringing fish to the nest.

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Beau delivering a headless fish to the nest.  He ate the rest enroute.


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Beau delivering another headless fish to the nest.


I watched for three days, and come to the sad news.  Unfortunately, there are now only two chicks showing at all the feedings.  The third chick possibly succumbed to the torrential rains and cold, or maybe it didn’t get fed during the quick intermittent feedings.  Whatever happened….poor baby….

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Only two chicks at feeding.


Only two chicks at feedings.


We’ll stay positive for the two healthy chicks, right?!!

Oh boy, that nest.  Yes, the size and structure of Bella & Beau’s nest is terrible, showing young Bella & Beau’s inexperience with building.  And, it is not for lack of trying!  Although the nesting cup seems much improved and now enlarged, the outer walls of the nest seem to lessen more and more.


                                    Nest on 5/29/18.                                                   Nest today, 6/6/18.


We now have an even larger pile of sticks on the dock that have fallen off the nest.  More goes into the water and float away.

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Sticks that have fallen off the nest above.


I did capture Beau attempting to get a little branch that was afloat, but all he got was a nice bath instead.  Notice the Barn Swallow photo-bombing the end of the slideshow.

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Bella & Beau continue to fiercely protect their family.  Besides the intruding local Osprey pair still flying overhead to irritate, Great Blue Herons keep coming around.  All are quickly chased away.

And then today I watched a second attack on Bella & Beau’s nest, this time from a Bald Eagle.  I was horrified.

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Bald Eagle flying down towards Bella & Beau’s nest.


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Beau saw the incoming Eagle and takes flight.  Bella was feeding the chicks and looks up at the Eagle, starts screaming, and also took flight.


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I was shocked Bella left the nest.  A chick is sitting up, looking around at all the commotion.


I watched in horror as the Eagle swooped down to the nest, and I know I screamed.  Beau dove at the Eagle at lightning speed, thwarting the Eagle’s direction, missing the nest.

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Beau upper left corner after attacking Eagle. thwarting his attack on the nest.


The Bald Eagle circles around for another attack!


Another swoop down to the nest!  I heard myself scream again, “NOOOOO!”  Both Beau and Bella were right behind the Eagle, and the Eagle turned away again from their attacks.

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An angry Eagle not getting a chance to attack the nest.


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Bella landed back on the nest to better guard it.


Meanwhile, Beau stays on the Eagle, forcing him out of the area.


I watched Beau chase that Eagle until I could no longer see either of them.  Now I was worried.  Did the Eagle actually grab a chick and Beau knew it?  I grabbed my binoculars and looked at the nest.  Whew, both chicks were accounted for!

I feel for Bella and Beau.  They are both exhausted as it is, and then have to fight for theirs and their chicks’ lives.  In this next photo, I captured where Bella didn’t even wake up to Beau arriving with a fish.  Beau stayed in place with it to wait until Bella was ready.  He then fell asleep too.

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Two exhausted parents.


After a beautiful today, clouds moved in for the evening as the sun was setting.  I checked on the family and found the two chicks sitting up, looking around.  They are growing like weeds.  The oldest chick is now about 2 1/2 weeks old and the second about 2 weeks old.

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Bella preening while her two chicks take a glimpse at their new world.


At sunset, the sun blazed the horizon, ending a chaotic day.  I hope we don’t have too many more days like this one.

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Bella & Beau’s nest platform is to the far right over the water in the photo.


I’m slipping in another sunset shot from the day before, it was too pretty not to share.  🙂

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Bella & Beau’s nest platform is to the far right in the photo.  Beau is perched on it in this one while Bella broods the chicks.


We have two upcoming gorgeous days, followed by a weekend of nasty weather again.  All this is the daily life of the Osprey.


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



53 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2018: Good News, Sad News, and Another Nest Attack

  1. Well I suppose that is nature for you…. what is it they say “wildlife is red in tooth and claw”. Here in the UK this year I seem to detect and hear from others that predation across all species seems to be much more prevalent this spring. My own theory is that spring was very late and followed a very wet winter with high winds rather than snow and frost. Migratory birds were slow to leave and the summer visitors even later arriving. By now most of the smaller birds would have fledged one brood of chicks and be sitting on a second brood. This year they are just fledging the first brood and it all seems to be happening at once…. more young birds and mammals and all needing feeding at once than normal, so predation is rive. Only upside for the smaller birds is that the mild wet winter has ensured that there are lots of insects about. I guess just another of natures cycles 🙂

    • Thank you, David, for your comments. Your theory sounds solid enough to be true. I know too wet a season is detrimental to wildlife, it was said to be the reason last Spring 2017 here in the Chesapeake Bay/mid-Atlantic region, there was a loss on hatchings, especially noted with the Osprey. This Spring we’re having a lot of rain but word is nests are seeing hatchings. As to food, fish are plentiful, no need to steal, yet they still do. You are right, just another of nature’s cycles! 🙂

      • My theory may be right….The organisation the monitors and records Bird movements across the UK report the unusually late arrival of most of our spring birds. The weather not just in the UK but across wider Europe and North Africa has been against them. But since writing yesterday this late arrival seems to have produced bigger brood sizes in the nests, more mouths to feed so more food needed. As for Osprey and other large Raptors nothing seems to have diverted them… reports from Scotland indicate all doing well. Keep the pics coming 🙂

  2. Wow! I had no idea that an eagle would risk an attack on a osprey nest, I’m glad that Bella and Beau were able to chase the eagle away.

    It is sad to hear that there had been three chicks at one time, but that seems to be the way of nature, young birds have a very high mortality rate from what I’ve seen. That doesn’t make it any easier when you see that a young bird has died though.

    All the photos are great, but I liked the sunset photos, not only are they beautiful, but they also give me a better idea of what the area around the nest is like.

    • Thank you, Jerry, for your comments. For sure, an Eagle would probably take out an Osprey, they are one of the Osprey’s most feared predator. I keep hearing about Eagles chasing Osprey to steal a fish the Osprey may be holding, but I’ve yet to see that myself. For sure, I was glad B&B did a good job. Both the Eagle and Osprey are my top two favorite birds, but here, I was most certainly rooting for the Osprey! 🙂

      Nature has it’s good and bad, and most certainly the remaining two chicks are still up for a lot of challenges and danger. Glad to show the area photos, these Osprey have a lot of things going on around them, that is for sure! 🙂

  3. Wow; What an eventful day for the sea hawks trying to protect their very young and small chicks so exposed in the poorly built flat nest. I hope they survive. I have never seen an Osprey build such a nest so flat without sides to protect their chicks from predators and elements of the weather. I enjoyed your detailed eventful story on the hawks protecting their family. Please keep us updated. Thanks for sharing

    • Thank you for your comments! The nest is pretty bad. It’s now worse than my last photo of it, and the chicks are crawling around the nest cup now. I don’t know what the heck they are doing, but this Osprey pair certainly show they do not have much experience in nest building. I’m guessing they are both very young Osprey and have much to still learn. Gotta give them credit on trying and caring for each other! 🙂

      • Interesting. They remind me of two young novice lovers at their first attempt starting a family together. I do hope all goes well with them. Something to consider: Are they enough twigs in the area to build a nest. From what I have learned, Osprey drop the twigs onto the nest site as they fly overhead rather than poking and intertwining the branches together as Eagles do. Maybe the Osprey missed too many times.

        • They are a love story! 🙂 I am sure there are enough twigs. I have actually seen them drop down to the ground across the creek in a cemetery to grab sticks and grass. Heck, they have a lumber yard just below them on the dock, lol. Osprey do not drop their twigs, they land with them still clasped in their talons. They will try to lay them along and around the nesting cup. Both will also move the sticks around on the nest, trying to place and poke into the others. The female gets real particular and will rearrange several times. This pair’s problem seems to be inexperience, this could be both’s first year in mating and building a nest. It breaks my heart every time I watch them trying to land with or work a stick and it fall out and below. All that energy on getting it is wasted! We’ll keep our fingers crossed they improve quickly. Maybe Beau needs to go take an architect class! 😉

  4. So wonderful Donna to track the love and care of thee proud parents as they care for their clutch. Sad the loss of one, but this is how it is in the wild, as with us. The Lord gives and takes away. What a wonderful story book of captures you have gathered over the weeks of this family. Have a great weekend!

    • Thanks Ashley, I hope their season gives people an idea of the challenges wildlife face day to day that we don’t realize or think about. It was sad on the third one. I am soooo glad that I didn’t see the Eagle take one, I would have been quite upset with that Eagle! He did get a piece of my mind as he was flying away with Beau on his heals. 🙂 Have a wonderful week also!

  5. Another finely written episode in the Bella & Beau saga with excellent photos. I really liked the water reflections in the slide show and sunsets.

    • Thank you, David! The water reflections are amazing here, always changing. When the tide is at a stand-still in the morning and it’s sunny, I get excited. 🙂 I am going to do a post on random reflections soon.

  6. Wow, that eagle was out for the grab. I am sad for the one chick but happy that we have two survivors still. That nest is a little sad but if there is a deep cup, then I am happy for all of them. i do wonder how they dispose of the body of the deceased chick, cause that could definitely draw in predators. That is a beautiful sunset and nice to see where the nest is located. I look forward to hearing how the family is getting on.This is quite exciting to have a view right into the nest. I have seen Osprey before nesting , but from below while I was on the ground.

    • Thank you, Jane, for your comments! I am glad you are enjoying the posts. The nest is still in sad shape. The Osprey pair are really showing their inexperience, which in turns shows they really are a young pair. The Osprey will usually bury a deceased chick into the nest, piling nesting materials onto it, along with all the smelly decaying fish pieces that fall within. And then the poop! I imagine that is one smelly nest….

  7. OMG!! Fabulous pictures!! And the saga continues. I was reading this in the car as my husband drove us to DC and I was like “oh no” and he wondered what was going on. I am quite sure I would have been screaming also. I am totally ‘invested’ in watching our bluebird pair as they go back and forth to the bluebird house of 5 little ones and I am quite sure that if I saw a sparrow or any other predator I would be running out the door screaming. Thank you so much for giving us this saga with updates. I guess maybe it is a good thing that most of the time this kind of thing is happening out of our view — it would be too distressing to witness too much of it.

    • Thank you for your comments! I love Eagles, but that day, I did not. I’m beginning to think I am too old for all this drama and suspense. 😉 The comings and goings of parent birds caring for their young is quite entertaining……and addictive! Sounds like a good reason for me to hire a maid to clean the house. 🙂

  8. I can only imagine how charged of adrenaline you were while photographing the terrifying attack from the eagle.You were witness of this matter of life or death for the osprey’s nestlings. I was reading your step by step account on the edge of my seat. I’m so glad that it did not end in anything tragic. You’re a great photographer Donna! Emotion did not deter you from capturing such important event. Thank you my friend, have a glass of wine and relax now. 🙂

    • Thanks, HJ, for your comments! You know I love my Eagles, but definitely not that moment! I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. lol I forgot to mention how long the attack lasted, it was over three minutes. I don’t even know how I got any focused shots, 95% were out of focus. I just couldn’t stay on them, they were all flying so fast and in all directions. Yes, it was definitely a wine moment afterwards…. 🙂 Thanks HJ!

    • Thanks, Tom! I have seen some really huge fish they have caught, almost weighing them down! I watched a video once where the Osprey caught such a large, heavy fish that it had to float/swim to the edge of the water to eat it because it couldn’t take flight. It is also known that an Osprey can latch onto too large a fish, and if not close to land and not able to release it from it’s talons, the Osprey could drown. YES, nature is interesting! 🙂

    • Thank you, Belinda! Bella & Beau are trying hard to be devoted parents, and to care for each other as well. Poor Beau, sometimes Bella really does give him a hard time. 🙂

  9. Whew, I am exhausted, too. I am sending Beau and Bella’s family the best wishes, Donna. A friend of mine often says “too much nature”. At times I feel that way, too!

  10. Donna, what a marvelous post! Your photography brings all the ‘drama’ alive. Such a joy to have you share it with us. The slide show was fantastic. It dawned on me it was so much better than a straight video because it froze the action for a much better look! Keep up the good work, but try not to get the blood pressure to high during any attacks!!! 😀

    The sunsets were absolutely amazing. It looks like you’ve got a fantastic front row seat to it all. I’m so happy for you.

    • Thank you, Gunta! I wondered if the slideshows were presenting well enough. I’ve forgotten and have been too lazy to figure out how to create a video of the photos, which I thought might be better. Thanks for telling me! Yeah, I gotta keep the BP in check, lol. Thank goodness these last couple days have been much less dramatic. Whew.

      This place has become a nice fit for us while we get our lives straightened around with my injury/recovery and the motorhome that sits. My dream to travel the country really got squashed… 😦

  11. Yeah, I kind of gathered that the travel plans were put on hold, but think of the thrill of capturing this nesting Osprey couple! You would have missed out on that had you been on the road! Hopefully it won’t be long before you can scratch that travel itch!

  12. I truly feel for poor Bella and Beau, that photo of them looking so exhausted made me cry. So sad about the third chick after getting excited about seeing it, but that’s usually the way of it, isn’t it. The two remaining chicks look strong and healthy. I hope that bald eagle doesn’t come back for another go, he looked so angry and determined.

    • Thank you, Sue, for your comments. You know how it is, when you watch wildlife daily and up close, you see so much more than you can share. Bella’s a tough gal to please, and poor Beau tries to keep up. I’m impressed for sure with the fish deliveries and their size! He’s bringing so m any, sometimes Bella’s not ready and Beau has to leave with it and wait on a sailboat mast until Bella calls. Their interactions are amazing! And boy, I love Eagles but sure hope that one never returns.

    • Who knew it could get so intense watching them on a daily basis? I sure didn’t, lol. Yes, defenders over builders, and they both continue the defending well. Oh, that poor nest though….. 😦

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