Bella & Beau 2018: Osprey Nest Comparisons and Those Teenagers

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

July 7, 2018

That nest….or lack thereof!  Bella & Beau have proven they are a young, inexperienced couple with their nest building capabilities.   Here’s a photo of the Bella & Beau’s nest platform today alongside their nest four weeks ago.  Today there is not much at all inside, except almost full-grown chicks with the antics of teenagers.

June 6, 2018                                     July 7, 2018
Look at how the chicks have grown in four weeks too!


Bella still occasionally brings grass or sticks, but it breaks up quickly with the family tramping on it, the chicks playing with it, as well as the weather’s elements.  It is comforting to witness the constant care Bella gives on keeping the chicks within the nest platform rails surrounding them, scooting them away from any edge.

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Bella brought this grass to the nest yesterday.  It is already ‘gone’!


Our Chesapeake Bay region hosts approximately one-quarter of all Ospreys in the United States.  The Osprey’s goal is to have their nest over water so that they can see 360 degrees for predators.  One of the most favorite places to have a nest is on one of the many large channel markers throughout the Bay.

These are photos of just a few of some of the other Osprey nests on our local Choptank River taken about two weeks ago.

Osprey nests on Choptank River channel markers.


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Osprey nest on Choptank River channel marker.


The Osprey population on the Chesapeake Bay is so large, there is competition for those prime spots.  You know how quickly real estate waterfront property goes!

Osprey are creative and will find a place to nest.


Osprey nests in dead trees at the river’s edge.


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Even the river’s overhead powerlines were attempted for a nest.  😦


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Osprey nest on a hunter’s winter blind.


Just as Bella & Beau’s, thankfully many human platforms have and are still being created and placed over water throughout the Bay area to help Osprey with additional safer locations to nest.

Osprey nests on manmade platforms.


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Osprey nest on manmade platform, with three chicks.


Although we see what Bella & Beau are dealing with for a nest, these next photos will show much more challenging nests to have a family within.  Building on these type of channel markers are quite dangerous on being successful.  Yet these have chicks on them too.


Same Osprey nest on challenging channel marker at different angles.


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Osprey nest on another challenging channel marker.


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Osprey nest on another challenging channel marker.


Osprey nest on challenging channel marker.  This Osprey pair knows what they are doing!


This next nest will make a lot of boaters cringe.

Osprey nest on a boat.  YIKES!

I’ve seen nests created in the most surreal places and still succeed with a family.  So our hope is Bella & Beau can keep their teenagers in check with rules and safety.

The teenage chicks continue to fill out with beautiful feathers and long wings.  The oldest is now seven weeks, while the youngest is 6 to 6½ weeks.

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Bella  watching over her teenagers.


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My, how they have grown!

There is a darkening on the chest occurring on both chicks, possibly indicating we have two females.


As with the rest of the United States, the heat and humidity here the past week was terrible, with heat indexes in the low 100’s.

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Bella is shading both chicks (one is hiding) while Beau is on lookout for predators.


Bella has been very good at providing shade to her chicks…..

“Mombrella” Bella


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“Mombrella” Bella


Including flapping and dripping on them after a quick dip.

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Bella hanging around the chicks while wet, while she’s eyeing something above.


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“Drip on me, Mom, it feels good!”


Even in all the heat, the teens have kept up with their flapping exercises.

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Feelin’ the breeze!


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Even in a windy rain shower, the teens kept practicing, the oldest one is here.


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Not to be outdone, the youngest practices shortly after the oldest finishes.

The rain shower had to feel good too!


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Teenagers sure know how to take up their space when lounging around.


All in all, things have progessed well with the challenges Bella & Beau and those growing teens have faced and succeeded with to date.

I’ll end another week’s post in the life of Bella & Beau and their family with last night’s sunset.


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Sunset over Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek – July 6, 2018


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Sunset over Cambridge Creek – July 6, 2018

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



59 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2018: Osprey Nest Comparisons and Those Teenagers

  1. I like this post very much, the nests comparisons and the timeline on Beau & Bella’s girls is full of love as a family and parental dedication. Thank you for your excellent work Donna. 🙂

  2. My, how quickly they have grown! I’ve sure loved seeing your photos as their nesting has been going on. I’m amazed at how they have kept the chicks in the “nest”!

  3. Wow! They have grown! Love the pic with the ring hanging off. Adorable! That boat with a nest is something else!!! Obviously those owners haven’t been to the docks for awhile. What a mess! Great post!!!

  4. Poor Bella and Beau must be hanging out for the day when their family takes flight and leaves them as empty nesters. Do Osprey re-build in successive seasons in the same spot? If so, it’ll be interesting to see if their nest building skills improve with experience. Every time I see one of your posts my heart is in my mouth when opening it. It will be heartbreaking if anything untoward happens now.

    • Thank you Chris for your comments! Oh boy, once the chicks take flight, they will still have to be fed and will sit on the nest platform and beg beg beg! Soon as they are strong flyers, the parents will teach them to fish and then stop feeding them to force them to fish on their own. A parent’s work is never done! Ha!

      Yes, if Bella & Beau both survived their migration towards South America and back, Beau should be the first to return and he will go directly to this same nest platform to secure it for him and Bella. Some experienced-built nests can possibly withstand some of the winter elements and will be ready for repair and growth when the previous Osprey return. 🙂

      I know, we have to have hope for a successful season. Fingers crossed and prayers said!

  5. Never failed to be amazed by these Ospreys. In the UK they are quite rare and highly protected, especially the nest sites. Your pair are doing great, no nest but two well developed chicks.

  6. A beautiful post Donna, and a great showcase displaying the creative and inventive nest building techniques of the Osprey. They have grown quickly. I love the photo of the two youngsters facing their mum/ I also love the sunset pic with reflection at the end. If their development is like our Eastern Osprey the darkening of the chest plumage could just mark their juvenile stage, which in most birds mimics the adult female (mother). In most cases in birds the mature adult plumage does not appear till they are ready to first breed, so if one is a male it may not show till much later. However, they may both be females as you suggested. Enjoy the weekend!

    • Thank you very much, Ashley, for your comments! Over the past years, our area Osprey female chicks have shown the female necklace somewhat by the season’s end. But that may not be true all the time, and I can see what you’re saying about the dark chest plumage. We’ll watch and see what they do look like, I am super curious, and whether they are male or female is still awesome, huh?!! It’ll be fun to see. I hope you had a wonderful weekend too!

  7. Donna, I definitely think you qualify for being a surrogate mother not only for Bella & Beau but for the surrounding area. Your attention to details is exceptional. I feel the love of these species in your writing. Your photos are a testament of it. I commend you. Have you thought of taking videos of their daily activities? Your lens proximity would deliver a great documentary. Again, well done Donna.

    • Awwww….thank you very much, Alix! I have loved Osprey for 8-9 years now and have enjoyed watching their behavior. Yes, & coincidentally my D600 has video on it. I tried video a few years ago and had issues with it running right plus the data size uploaded takes up lot of storage space. I haven’t tried since then, I guess mostly because of laziness, haha.

  8. That is an amazing collection of nest sites, Donna! Somehow the Osprey persevere! I love the mombrella shots; the parent’s instincts kick in even if they can’t keep a nest together.

    • Thank you, Ellen! Bella really does show a deep caring for the chicks, I love watching her corral them away, making them scoot back. Beau just perches and doesn’t watch them, he really makes me nervous!

  9. Glad to see the chicks growing. That nest in the boat is huge and made me laugh. I’m sure the boat owner will have fun cleaning that up!

    • Thank you, Ingrid! My husband groaned loudly when he saw the boat, lol. Yep, if you don’t stop the Osprey before laying their eggs, you’re stuck with a messy boat until the chicks have fledged.

  10. Fantastic pictures. I love all the different nests in the various precarious locations. We had two great blue heron nests on pilings earlier this year that were totally destroyed in one three day storm period. One of the nests was rebuilt on a nearby duck blind,and those three chicks just hatched in the last week. As for man-made platforms, they are wonderful. It is thanks to someone in our cove putting up a man-made platform 5 years ago that has given me 5 years of enjoyment, watching our ‘Barney’ and ‘Betty’ return each year. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful pictures. You should make a book of a year in Bella and Beau’s life!

    • Thank you very much! I’ve seen Osprey nests get destroyed in storms as well, it is very sad. As you know, the Osprey and GBH’s will build on anything they can around the CBay! 🙂

  11. Thanks for the update and also the looks at other nests in your area. With all the unsafe places that osprey are nesting, it seems like one of the conservation groups, or several of them together, would be adding more of the man made platforms for all the osprey in your region. I do wish that the conservation groups in Michigan would build more nesting platforms for osprey.

    And before I forget, great photos to record this update, they illustrate the points that you make very well!

    • Thank you Jerry for your comments, and you’re welcome too! There are constantly Osprey nest platforms being installed every year all around the Chesapeake Bay through conservation groups as well as private owners. We can’t keep up with the returning population!

    • Thank you very much Belinda! In another couple weeks, the chicks should have taken flight. Once they do, they will still return to the platform to be fed, so B&B will still be working hard. Within a few weeks thereafter, B&B will be teaching them to fish and then will stop feeding them temporarily to encourage them to go fishing for themselves. I will be hearing so loud crying from the nest then, lol. But they’ll get the hint. They have too, they will be flying each on their own for South America sometime in September. 😲

  12. Beautiful done as always. The nest is having a go with it for sure. Don’t look like it will be long before the chicks are as big as mom and flying around. From seeing you post on these birds I think you have really enjoyed watching them grow up 😊 Such excellent documentation!

  13. Interesting to see the differences in the osprey nests and the odd spots they find to build one. That boat one was such a surprise! And I love the pic of the chick lounging around in the nest, so funny! Probably a good thing that the chicks have grown up a fair bit before all the heat you are having over there otherwise it may have been a different outcome. Looking forward to the next update. 🙂

    • Thank you Sue, there are always so many interesting happenings with this family. 🙂 And boy, I’ve seen so many odd Osprey nests over the years, quite a few are unbelievable, including that boat I just shared that we saw. I’m going to revisit that boat nest. lol Yes, the heat was terrible, we are having a nice reprieve from it and I can tell the chicks are happy and not so heat-stressed. 🙂

  14. Chesapeake Bay is quite the haven, which is great for the bird population as well as for the people that live there. I laughed out loud at three photos, the teenager “hanging out” over the nest, the nest on the yacht and the nest on the hunter’s blind. I responded with “What?!” when I saw what looks like a chick in its grassy nest beside and below the green channel marker nest.(11th down) Precarious. They may not be the best nest-builders, but again, I am impressed with the caring parenting skills of Beau and Bella. The kids look great! The sunset is just beautiful

    • Thank you, Jane, for your wonderful comments! The Osprey do not lack personalities and funny characteristics. 🙂 No worry on what you thought was a chick hanging, it is a black plastic bag. Whew, I had to go back and look at what you said, I would be so upset right now thinking we had left a chick hanging on for dear life! What I think would be awesome for the CBay is to introduce old satellite dishes as a basin for an Osprey nest, it’d solve recycling the old ones and are being used elsewhere as a solution. I think you follow TinyLessonsBlog, that’s what Helen pushed and received funding for to save her dilapidated old wooden platform for Stanley and Sandy. The satellite dish has worked perfectly! 🙂

  15. It IS amazing how much they have grown, Donna! I am glad to see they are doing well. I wonder if Beau and Bella will build a sturdier nest next year, or will try to “get by” again. How will they learn if nobody shows them how? Instinct, I assume. It might be great to start a solid base on the platform once they leave the nest, to which they could add on next year. I don’t know if that is ever done?!

    • Thank you Tanja for your wonderful comments! I do think it is instinct that will kick in next year for a better nest, from learning some this year. I was gone yesterday and last night there were two sticks laying on the nest. LOL There’s an instinct still trying to tell them! Yes, definitely, when Osprey return year after year, the males are back first to secure last year’s nest location, hopefully there’s a base still intact from the previous season and whatever weather extremes hit it over the winter. As soon as the female is back, mature pairs quickly rebuild the nest for days. Some of the big nests I shared above are from several years of building and surviving to become this year’s ‘renovation’. 🙂

  16. It’s so nice to see them thriving and doing so well despite the scrimpy nest.

    There’s a family of Osprey I’ve had the pleasure to observe twice this season, and on my last visit the nest was as bare as this one, and the parents had set up another nest nearby. I think it’s a not so subtle hint that those teenage Osprey’s days are numbered living at home. 😊

    Your sunsets are gorgeous!

    • Thank you, Deborah! All these skimpy nests show the young returning Osprey are too quick to get busy and mate, lol. Usually they get a couple years of summer living experience on the Chesapeake Bay, then come back to produce a family. 🙂

  17. Your area seems to be truly dedicated to building the nest platforms. That’s so wonderful and thanks for giving us this survey of the different ones in your neighborhood. We don’t seem to have many manmade nests here, but we don’t seem to be lacking for Osprey nevertheless. It’s great to see these wonderful birds thriving.

    • It became a necessity to offer nest platforms because the Osprey were picking less desirable locations (boats, docks, dock houses, channel lights blocking the light beams submitted, house chimneys, dangerous electrical wires, road signs, etc!). People are fascinated with watching them too, so the desire all way round is a great thing to erect more opportunities for the Osprey. I think they are pretty cool! 🙂

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