Bella & Beau 2018: Splish Splash, Bella Takes A Bath and How About Those Chick Wings

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

June 29, 2018

We all know birds love water; and it is always entertaining to watch a bird take a bath.  In addition to drinking the water and for some cooling off, birds regularly bathe primarily to clean and maintain their feathers.  And usually the bath is at the edge of a body of water or an erected shallow bird bath.

The Osprey, however, will regularly drink, cool off, and bathe in the same deep water that they fish, so preening and waterproofing their feathers constantly is important to keep their feathers from getting saturated.  Osprey secrete a pungent, oily substance from a preen gland at the base of their tail that they spread all over their feathers for that waterproofing purpose.

With Bella stuck on the nest after the hatchings for such a long duration, I was happy to see her leave the nest a month or so ago and dive directly into the water below, flapping her wings back and forth, floating and dipping herself.  She had gotten quite dirty with those heavy May rains, brooding the chicks, all those feedings, and even having spots of chick poop on her that didn’t quite make it out the nest back then.

It happened so quickly, and I wasn’t prepared with my camera, but I got to watch her bathe.  She looked like it felt so good.  And when she returned to the nest, I will admit I was very happy to see that poop off of her.

I’ve seen her many times since dive below and bathe.  But I never got any photos that were sharable.

Finally, a week ago I was watching the nest when Bella took a dive.  I quickly tried to get my camera off the tripod and lock on her but didn’t make it.  A drenched Bella flew back to the nest where Beau was perched.  She then chirped at him and, just like that, she took flight and dove again.  I was still putting my camera back on the tripod.  I moved a little quicker, missed the bath darn it, but got three nice shots of her lifting out of the water this time.


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Bella lifting out of the water after a bath.


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Bella getting airborne after a bath.


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Bella is airborne and heads back to the nest.



Excited and hoping I got the shots, I started to put my camera back on the tripod; and, would you believe, Bella chirped at Beau again and took a third dive.

This time I succeeded on a 19-shot burst of Bella bathing and uploaded it as a slideshow.

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Splish Splash, Bella is taking a bath.


I think that showcased one drenched, clean, and happy Bella.

The chicks continue to grow and change.  Their feathers are coming in quickly and their wings are growing longer and longer.  The chicks are able to stand now and are awkwardly stretching and flapping those wings.

The oldest chick standing and flapping those awkward wings.


The youngest chick gets into the act.


The youngest chick is at it again.


It’s like watching a toddler learn to walk.  🙂

The chicks’ dark eyes have now attained their bright orange/redness.

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When an Osprey reaches about three years old, their eyes will change to bright yellow like Bella & Beau’s.


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Amazingly, the Osprey’s eyesight is eight times sharper than that of humans.

You can see from the photos the sad nest remains basically unchanged.  I have not seen Beau bring any more nesting materials, and Bella brings mostly dead grass and leaves.  She continues to guard the chicks from the edge, thankfully.

I had the opportunity a few days ago to photograph other Osprey nests on the Choptank River and will be sharing these in another post to compare to Bella & Beau’s.  Surprisingly, Bella & Beau’s nest has more going for their family than others I photographed.

How about a family portrait?

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The Family


I’ll end with another setting sun shot took while Bella was flying overhead (I missed her in the shot) and the chicks lay low.  I didn’t see Beau, he was probably perched close by on possibly either a sailboat mast, in a tree, or on the Cambridge water tower keeping watch over his family.


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Sunset over Cambridge Creek, with Bella & Beau’s nest off to the right.


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



47 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2018: Splish Splash, Bella Takes A Bath and How About Those Chick Wings

  1. The Osprey shots are as delicious as ever. Frosting on the cake is that sunset. Your posts are such a delight… and an education, too!

  2. A third opportunity! How rare is that and you sure made me chuckle having missed many a second chance myself! Great to see the chicks growing and still contained in that sorry nest. That’s a stunning end of day image.

    • LOL thanks Ellen! It can get frustrating some times, but I love the challenge. Yes, those chicks are getting bigger and bigger! I hope they behave themselves and get to fledge real soon. 🙂

  3. Beautiful, Donna! I’m so glad you got the sequence after missing the first photo ops. Recently I sat on our dock for almost an hour waiting for a great egret to take off. I had dozens of photos of him sitting in the tree and wanted a flight photo. Of course the moment I looked away he took off, and I couldn’t recover fast enough. Thanks for sharing these amazing photos.

    • Thank you (I think this is Susan?)! It comes up as “Someone” on my comments. You got it right, the birds know when we look away and make their move, lol. They love to tease us!! 😉

      • I get to watch them as they fish the river below my house, but I can’t get close enough for photos and their visits are rather irregular. I’ve seen them fish the smaller mountain streams too. One day I was fishing on a rather remote stream and wasn’t having a great deal of luck, when an Osprey with a large trout in his talons flew close overhead as if to say “this is how it’s done”.

  4. LOVE your pictures of the B&B family, Donna ❤ The bath pictures are spectacular, and the wingersizing made me smile 🙂 Before we know it, they will fledge…you go kids!

    • Thanks so much, Helen! Us Osprey grannies can’t help but smile, watching the toddlers grow into teenagers. I so wish Bella & Beau had a satellite dish like yours, that would keep these two where they belong and have plenty of room to flap away. I just love how old satellite dishes are recycled for our beloved Osprey! 🙂

  5. For these birds, cleanliness is very important, due to maintain feathers in perfect condition. The feathers are essential for flying well and be able to confront any foes in the air, as well to take off while being in the water. It takes tremendous force to impulse their body from the drag caused by water capillarity. Same as a jet plane at take off breaking from inertia.Your photos are excellent as always Donna! Have a great weekend! 🙂

    • Thank you very much, HJ, and for your added comments! I was afraid I had already gotten ‘wordy’ in the post and was going to touch on feathers and flight. You said it perfectly, better than me! 🙂 I hope you are having a wonderful weekend also! 🙂

  6. As you described what you were going through as you rushed to get the tripod set up , I could feel the tension and the rush to get the shot in time. Oh! How I know that hurry, that feeling of nearly getting the shot, but missing it! I am so glad you got the series of shots of Bella diving into the water and taking a bath. She does look great after that, so pristine. The chicks are so big and yes, their eyes are brilliant. It is a good thing they take turns flapping, or someone might take a tumble. Appreciating your dedicated recording, and enjoying every minute with a tinge of sadness that they will soon be gone. But, for now, I will enjoy the story of this family, although also look forward to seeing the other nests in the area for comparison’s sake.

    • Thank you very much, Jane, for your comments! I am excitedly gathering photos daily, to try and share the best of the week. Yes, I will get that post done on the other area nests that are harboring chicks too, some of those will be quite challenging as the chicks need to flap those expansive wings. Fingers crossed for all the Osprey chicks around! 🙂

  7. What a wonderful post! I love the pictures, of course, absolutely amazing, but the narrative too is gripping: the tension builds as you try to grab your camera off the tripod (I’m usually trying to find my camera and a lens)! Go Bella, Beau and the Babies! 🙂

    • Thank you, Lisa! They have so much going on, I’m pretty much keeping the camera on the tripod. It has a gimberly head so I can swivel pretty good with it. But boy do I miss many shots too! Focus and lock while they are moving isn’t always so easy, lol. Thanks for the BB&B cheer, we want them to make it all the way! 🙂

    • Thank you, Jerry! I am enjoying every minute I get to take time to watch them. And shoot anything else that goes by (those photos have built up a lot, I need to work on them!) 🙂

  8. Great shots of the Osprey washing Donna and love the sunset pick also. Sorry for taking so long, we have been away in inaccessible signal areas deep in rainforest. Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you, Ashley, and no worries ever!! I am jealous to hear you’re deep in a rainforest. 😉 Looking forward to those awesome captures!! Enjoy your weekend too. 🙂

  9. Pingback: Bella & Beau: It’s All About The Wings | Photos by Donna

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