Bella & Beau 2018: It’s All About The Wings

(Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, USA)

July 15, 2018

In a previous post here I shared Bella taking a much-needed bath and about the importance in keeping their feathers clean and maintained, especially those large, gorgeous wings.

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Bella’s gorgeous wings.
(she’s delivering a stick to the platform that has no nest.)


Those wings are the Osprey’s life.  They need to be exercised and maintained to be in great condition for excellent flying so they can hunt for fish, plunge and then lift themselves from the drag caused by water capillarity, as well as have speed and control to challenge any enemies in the air.

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Bella in flight – you can see her feathers have damage.  She has been molting throughout the season.  Osprey molt by losing only a couple feathers at a time so they do not lose the capability to fly.


The OspreyTeens are now:  oldest is eight weeks, followed by the second at 7 to 7 ½ weeks.  They have quickly learned that keeping their feathers conditioned is a daily chore.  They are in constant preening mode, cleaning their new feathers and ridding the last of their wooly down.

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OspreyTeens preening their brand new feathers.


The OspreyTeens also need to exercise their wings.  One way is by stretching.  Most times this looks quite funny.

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“Mom, I’m bored, I have nothing to do…”


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Bella and an OspreyTeen watch the other’s wing stretch out and then back in.


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This was cute, a sibling “wing hug”.


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Here’s another sibling “wing hug” in a six-photo slideshow.
The last photo is priceless!


The OspreyTeens also exercise their wings with strong flapping, sometimes with a couple hops as they feel the lift.

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(photo chicks flapping)

It is getting very close now for the OspreyTeens to take their first flights.  It usually happens while flapping, the fledgling will catch the wind and off it goes!

Usually the first flight is brief and awkward and ends soon with the fledgling landing on a nearby perch.  After probably a much needed rest, it will try to return back to the nest where it will continue to live for several more weeks as it learns to control flight and then learn to hunt for food.  It’s surely a nervous time, for both them and us!

And now here is a series of some beautiful flight images I’ve captured over the last couple months of the caring parents, Bella & Beau, showing off their gorgeous patterned wings.

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Bella flew up close to me.


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Beau is usually no longer at the nest except to deliver food.  So catching a family portrait is not easy.  Here’s a couple from this past week.

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The Osprey Family


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Family Portrait
Beau is alarming an intruder while the rest pays attention to the danger.


And a few more of beautiful Bella.

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“Mombrella” Bella


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Bella on guard while the OspreyTeens rest.
(taken from ground level)


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Bella on guard while the OspreyTeens rest.
(taken from ground level)


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Portrait of Beautiful Bella


Wrapping up this week’s post, I’ll share another sunset that Bella, Beau, the OspreyTeens and we enjoyed.

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Sunset over Cambridge Creek and the Osprey Family (far right over docks)


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



48 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2018: It’s All About The Wings

  1. This series is simply amazing and awesome! Glad to hear we still have several more weeks for the fledglings to be hanging around. Bet you’re going to miss all the excitement when they migrate. 😀 But then you can tell or show us how much better they are at nest building the next time around!

  2. Great photos, I love the majestic profiles and find the one stretch comical because it looks like Bella is standing on the teen’s back. ” No, you are not going out. You are grounded.” I find the gold feathers on the teen’s necks very pretty. Once again, an outstanding, calm sunset.

    • Thank you, Jane! Things are a little comical now, which is a break for all the chaos nest attacks and intruders from before. 🙂 I swear I see such personality in them all, especially Bella, who we know rules the roost!

  3. As always Donna, these are gorgeous shots! Even though I thought I knew about Ospreys from reading several sources, I have learned so much about the nesting phase from your wonderful posts. Our pair of chicks are 2-3 weeks behind yours. I wonder if there is something about “B”s for ospreys – yours are Bella and Beau, and ours are Betty and Barney – named by someone unknown who had carved those names into the previous platform (which fell apart and was replaced by some good Samaritan neighbor). Someone told me, at least with Bald Eagles, that the wing practice was ‘wingersizing’. I may have mentioned that in an earlier reply. It certainly seems to apply!

  4. Simply beautiful! It shows parental care, teaching the “ropes” about keeping feathers in good condition, exercise of wings, positioning of wings to control flow of air for lift and brake. The parents dedication is incredible. This post has so much visual importance about a family of Ospreys and their brood…it’s priceless! You’ve done a great job Donna! I like it very much! Thank you. 🙂

  5. I’m so glad to be following your blog to learn so much about the osprey! They are beautiful birds that you photograph so well that it’s almost like I was there in person to witness their behavior in person.

    • I’m glad you’re following along, Jerry! I’m having a good time trying to capture behavior of the week, it changes so much. Now if I only had a longer lens, just think of the detail I could really capture. 🙂

  6. Wonderful shots, as always! 🙂
    I don’t think enough people realize just how intelligent birds are.
    This morning, I said to Tweetie Pie, a Yellow Nape, “It looks like we got some rain.”
    Her reply: “Yes, it does!”
    Later in the morning, i asked, “Do you want to get a bath today?”
    She then quickly said, “Yes, I do!”

  7. Your process of documenting this story with these amazing photos is a wonderful thing.
    A timely example of what is at stake in our fragile world.

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