Bella & Beau 2018: Growing Chicks and Bonding Between Bella & Beau

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

June 11, 2018

After their last post, I’ll start off by saying this update on Bella & Beau is much calmer.  I think this one will warm your heart.

The two chicks seem to be thriving well.  As all baby birds do, the chicks basically eat and sleep.  They can be heard chirping at feeding to get Momma Bella’s attention.

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Both chicks vying for Momma Bella’s attention to feed them.


Each chick appears to be getting plenty to eat.  Momma Bella gives attention to each one.


If you enlarge these two shots, you’ll see the chicks both trying to eat the same piece of fish.  Reminded me of the children’s Disney movie, “Lady & The Tramp” where they shared a piece of spaghetti.



They have now even learned how to back up to poop over the rim of the nest.  Obviously, this is important!


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Chicks must learn to help keep the nest clean.


The chicks developed their food crop at one week old.  It is now evident to see as the growing chicks eat and pack it at each feeding.


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You can see these chicks’ food crop bulging below their throats during the end of a feeding.



Now at 2½ and 3 weeks old, the chicks are actively crawling around the nesting cup, sitting up and curiously looking out.  They even approach Momma Bella when it is feeding time.


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The chicks have learned the art of preening as they lose their first down feathers that are being replaced on their bodies by a thick dark, wooly-looking second down that’ll last another week or so.  Their head and neck has begun the growth of their golden feathers.  Their body’s darker feathers will appear on the rest of their body a little later.

The chicks have also developed their light brown streak on their back that runs the length of their spine.  Appearing as a ‘stick’ in the nest, this helps to camouflage the chick while they lie down in the nest to sleep or ‘hide’ from an overhead predator.

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Chicks with their wooly-looking second down and light brown ‘stripe’ that helps to camouflage them in the nest.



Beau is on the move back and forth, bringing fish after fish.  He is still providing food to Bella as the chicks.


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Beau delivering another fish.  Now the chicks have interest when food arrives.


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This time the fish is not headless.  Beau must not have been hungry or felt the family needed the nourishment more.


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Up until dusk, Beau is still delivering.



The chicks are also having the normal sibling aggression which is commonly a peck or a blow delivered to the back of the neck, head, or tail.  It occurs mostly while waiting for food or during the beginning of the feeding time and is usually done by the largest chick.  So far, it’s not been too bad or often.

Oldest chick being aggressive with the other chick.


Oldest chick being aggressive with the other chick.


As to Bella & Beau’s nest, as you can see in this next image, it is still in dire need of growth.  The nest is going to remain a major concern and challenge.  It is important to keep the chicks ‘gated’ to avoid a mishap.

While the chicks are active, I’ve watched both parents move and perch on the edge where the chicks were ‘headed’ to block them.  This is a good thing.

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Nest on 6/10/18.



We know nest protection is obviously still a daily chore.  The area’s Osprey ‘regulars’ still fly overhead but have stayed their distance.

Bella watching another pair of Osprey flying high over her and the chicks.


There are two other frequent birds that are not predators, but Bella & Beau still have a distaste for — Cormorants and Great Blue Herons.  Scare attacks by Bella & Beau are common to force either to move on.


Beau doing scare attack swoops down at Great Blue Heron who is on their nest dock.



 “Geez, what did I do?”                                       “I am outta here!”



A Double-crested Cormorant arrives.            Bella & Beau take note.  A chick is curious.


The Cormorant saw Bella coming and dives quickly to avoid the attack.


Another attack by Bella, as the Cormorant gets further away.


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Finally the Cormorant flies away and Bella returns drenched and probably exhausted.


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“That was my Momma!”



Then there is the human disturbance.  Bella & Beau aren’t quite sure what to make of that species.  Overall, they tolerate humans and the boats they ride by in.

If feeling somewhat threatened though, one parent will remain on the nest while the other flies overhead, circling.  Alarm calls might be voiced, if someone approaches on the dock or finger pier.

Osprey normally do not attack humans, but I’ve noticed they seem more agitated with a dog or kayakers below them.  Bottom line, if an Osprey feels threatened, it will attack.

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Bella keeping her eye on the kayaker.


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“Dorothy-Megan” an 80 foot working replica of an authentic paddlewheel riverboat, one of two that comes by on sightseeing cruises around the area.  This caused Beau to take flight while Bella stayed put.


As I end this update, I wanted to share what I’ve seen twice this past week that confirms the life-time bond and love story that Bella & Beau have created.

I watched with wonderment as Beau, followed by Bella, left the nest and took flight, circling above the nest.

There was no intruder in the sky, just the two of them.

Bella & Beau reuniting their bond in an aerial courtship, just for a moment, away from the challenges of the nest.

Bella & Beau flying and reuniting their bond.


Bella & Beau look happy!!


For all the challenges faced and those still to come, it surely warms the heart to see Bella & Beau’s bond is still strong.

After another bout of showers, tonight the cloudy skies opened up to give a brilliant sunset.

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Sunset over Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek – 6/11/18


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Bella settles in for the night – 6/11/18


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



53 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2018: Growing Chicks and Bonding Between Bella & Beau

  1. These are fabulous photos of feathery family life seen through your lens! Love reading your observations as these beautiful birds slowly raise a their young. Thanks for the thrill Donna

  2. What a beautiful update on this family, and you are right, it was very heartwarming. Love your photos Donna, it is amazing to be able to see the chicks close up like this. Looking forward to watching the chicks grow up.

  3. Life and times indeed! Our ‘show’ is decidedly smaller and more comical: Carolina Wrens in a clothespin bag on the back porch. We get just a couple of weeks to watch the whole process; our own busy lives take the back-burner for this annually scheduled break.

    I enjoyed your diary and photos, Donna. You must feel very privileged and honored to witness. Happy Summer!

    • Thank you Shannon for your comments. OMGoodness, I would love to see the clothespin bag ‘home’. How unique a location for a CWren! I hope you share some photos. Sometimes we need to take a break and enjoy nature for the short time it might be with us. 🙂 Happy watching the CWrens and Happy Summer to you too!

    • Thank you Kelly! I am so glad to see Bella flying around more and more, she needs the exercise to regain her strength. Because Beau wouldn’t budge this morning at Bella’s cries, Bella herself took off and came right back with a stick. I think Beau better get his act together. lol

  4. This is a happy report on the young couple, Bella and Beau and their new chicks. The young parents are very much in love and also proud to have perpetuated the survival of their species. The main purpose of their lives! Your report is superbly illustrated with wonderful photos to reinforce the story and make their protagonists real and closer to the readers. Thank you my friend! 🙂

  5. I’m glad that things have settled down there after the last post. Your photos are magnificent, and just what I needed at this time. I have found an osprey nest near me, so I can put into use the knowledge that you’re passing on in these posts as far as the behavior of both the chicks and adults as the chicks grow.

  6. What a wonderful history of this couples family life Donna. Great captures tell the story also. You could write a children’s book with this extensive material. Enjoy the rest of the week 😊

  7. Shouldn`t the story end in “Beau and Bella flew off into the brilliant sunset?” But that would not work for the time being. One of these days! Thank you for this heartwarming update, Donna, and for your amazing photos.

  8. This is a heart-warming story, about the chicks’ safety and feeding, the growing bond between the parents, nearby predators or guests, and that somewhat sad-looking nest. I saw two Osprey nests in Ontario beside the highway, well-built and nothing like the one in Cambridge Bay, but this family appears to be doing well, regardless.

    • Thank you Jane for your comments. I am glad you and others are enjoying a glimpse into the daily life of the Osprey, and seeing the differences between a young & inexperienced pair versus a well established pair and their well built, elaborate nests. Bella & Beau are probably flabbergasted all the work they are challenged with! 🙂

  9. Fantastic pictures again, Donna!! It is interesting that they chase away the GBH and the cormorant. You may remember that 3 years ago the young GBH here attached the nest…so they are capable of doing that and maybe B&B intuitively know that…such wise birds 🙂

    • Thank you, Helen! I’ve never seen an attack by a GBH as you have, isn’t that interesting! But I’ve seen many Osprey over the years still attack GBH’s just because they are close to the nest, just down below trying to patiently fish. I did see one instance years ago where an Osprey chased the GBH, and of course, caught up with him instantly, thus an aerial attack by the GBH occurred, trying to ward off the Osprey. It sure was a loud ruckus, and thankfully in the end, both were fine. I didn’t see that GBH ever come back to fish along that bulkhead again, lol. Which I was happy, I think our Osprey would have won with those dangerous talons.

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