Bella & Beau 2019: Egg-citing Time Now Becomes A Wait
Osprey nest location: Cambridge, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Region, USA
May 6, 2019
It’s been two weeks since my last update, and as announced then, Bella is indeed incubating at least one egg that was laid on April 20th.
In fact, Bella should have continued to lay up to another 1-3 eggs, ending no later than the April 25-29th time period. Osprey usually lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs, each 1-3 days apart from another.
Bella incubating her egg(s)
Bella’s eggs will hatch in the same sequence as they were laid, in 36-42 days. That puts a first-egg hatching around May 25th to June 1st.
Last year Bella laid her first egg April 17th, and we know laid at least three eggs that delivered three live hatchlings (one hatchling perished little over a week after birth).
Osprey eggs are about the size of a large chicken or duck egg.
Width: 1.6-2.0” (5.5-6.8 cm)
Length: 2.2-2.7” (4.2-5 cm)
They are cream to pinkish cinnamon, with reddish-brown markings.
Photo by Alicia Pimental/Chesapeake Bay Program website
While Bella was busy with egg-laying, Beau stopped nest building and primarily stayed perched on the nest platform or one of several nearby to watch and guard Bella, leaving only to chase any intruders or fetch and return with a fish for her while assisting any breaks Bella needed.
Some of Beau’s favorite perches, all easily oversee Bella and the nest
When Beau brings Bella a fish, she still aggressively grabs it and flies to a telephone pole across the creek that she always favors. She can also keep watch over the nest from there while Beau rests.
Bella takes the fish Beau just delivered
Bella transfers the fish from her beak to her talons while in flight
Bella eating her fish on her ‘telephone pole’
When Bella takes her meal breaks, Beau usually watches her fly to her perch, looks at the eggs, maybe even push them around a little, then nestles over them tight. He sometimes takes a nap .
After consuming her meal, sometimes Bella may fly down and skim the creek to clean her lower body and talons.
Bella will then circle over the nest for a minute or two to stretch her body and wings. I can only imagine how good it must feel!
Bella circling nest after eating a meal
Bella from behind, circling the nest
Never away long, Bella usually returns to the nest & perches to preen and dry while Beau continues incubating and napping.
Bella on guard/preening/drying while Beau continues napping
Soon enough, Bella lets Beau know she’s ready to return to egg-duty, forcing him out if necessary. Sometimes Beau doesn’t want to get up, I’m guessing because he enjoys the nap time!
Bella making a stern move to force a now-awakened Beau up and out of the nest
Beau has also restarted his task of adding to the nest. Unfortunately, the past few weeks of storms and strong, sometimes gale-force winds have been winning at destroying the nest over Beau’s attempt trying to enlarge it.
Beau had a difficult time last year with preparing a nest that would not stay intact. We’ve all hoped he’d be a better nest builder this year. I thought I’d share a side-by-side nest comparison of the two seasons.
May 4, 2018 May 6, 2019
Look’s like Beau has had improved building skills this season!
Spring weather has been normal for our area with rain, wind, thunderstorms, and temperatures from 50s-70s°F/day, 40s-60s°F /night. During the pouring rain and strong winds, Bella or Beau work hard to get as low and tight to the eggs to keep the wet and chill out.
Incubating during extreme weather
The best are the beautiful, sunny days when everything dries out and all seems good!
This is called the quiet month of the Osprey breeding season. Other area Osprey are mostly settled in, many incubating as well. None have much time to harass each other, as they quickly adapt to the incubation process and demands that comes with it. Just the occasional fly-overs of those hunting for nesting materials and fish, which Bella & Beau always see and give warning calls if necessary. No need for chases, everyone’s too tired and it can be too risky, leaving Bella alone.
Bella & Beau keeping their eyes on other Osprey flying by
Oddly, and a re-occurrence from last season, Bella & Beau do not like Cormorants. Nope. Depending who’s perching at the time, Bella or Beau will swoop down to try to strike Cormorants, who always dive just quick enough.
Bella & Beau spot a Cormorant that resurfaced near their nest
The Cormorant dives just in time with each Osprey attack
Although the Cormorants will generally swim further down the creek or give in and depart, they will return the next day. Fishing must be good here in the creek and worth the risk of Bella & Beau.
Bella & Beau happily watching the Cormorant leave
Beau is on the go! Whatever Bella wants, Beau aims to please.
Beau running an errand
Beau’s nod to me on his way pass
Beau in flight
Whether errand-running or egg-duty, the incubation period proves at times to be exhausting for both parents.
Beau falls asleep on his perch while Bella is spread low inside the nest over their egg(s)
It’s going to be a long several weeks ahead, awaiting for the indication of a hatchling, and then finally catching a glimpse of the wee one.
I’ll end with a couple photos of Bella & Beau and their home on Cambridge Creek, both shot from my balcony. Great digs, B&B!
Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek
Bella & Beau on Cambridge Creek at sunrise
A quick side note, I have been overloaded with ‘things’ and am way behind on blogging, reading and comments. Please forgive, I’ll stop by soon, promise!