Bella & Beau 2019: It’s School Time

Osprey nest location:  Cambridge, Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Region, USA

July 24, 2019 – #1

The past couple weeks’ have really heated up the Chesapeake Bay mid-Atlantic region, with temperatures reaching the 100’s°F (38°C).  To make matters worse, the high humidity created very muggy days feeling like 110-115°F (43-46°C).  Ugh.

Bella, Beau, and the two ‘teens’ have felt it too.

It’s  hot, hot, hot!


Bella & Beau are lucky, they can dive into the water to clean and refresh themselves.

Bella taking a refreshing bath


Bella lifting herself out of the water with ease


Bella landing back on the nest with the ‘teens’ paying attention


With the number of huge fish I seen delivered to the nest by both Bella & Beau, I know they are getting their bellies filled quite well.  Bella has even allowed the teens to feed themselves on smaller, leftover portions.

Beau delivers a sunset meal


The ‘teens’ are now 7 and 7 1/2 weeks old.  When they’re not eating or napping, they spend a lot of time preening those gorgeous feathers.

Preening their beautiful feathers


Preening and waterproofing their feathers constantly is important to keep the Osprey’s feathers from getting saturated when submerged.  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, allowing easy lift-outs from water.

Days are long sitting on a nest 24/7.  So the teens also have plenty of time in paying attention to the world around them.

The teens have the instinct to learn and have daily ‘school time’ with Mom & Dad.  The parents give flight and landing lessons.  The teens watch in earnest.

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The teens watch Mom Bella flying above


Mom Bella circling the nest, and watching the chicks


Teens watching Mom Bella fly during another teaching lesson


These past muggy days have produced little winds, yet the ‘teens’ are still working hard on exercising their almost fully-grown wings.  They’re now braver with hops, jumps, and lift-offs occurring.

With talons fully gripped, strong flaps develop wing strength


We have lift-off!


Not good when both ‘teens’ try to exercise at the same time!


Last year, the nest’s two chicks fledged July 24 and 27, respectively.  So fledgling is now imminent, how exciting!

Well, we all thought it appeared Bella & Beau had better nest building skills this year; but they halted for so long the past month, the nest has been slowly dismantling and falling piece by piece into the water or on the dock.

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Sticks that have fallen from the nest due to storms and hard landings


As promised, here’s a nest comparison of last year’s and this year’s at this week.  So it’s a little better…..

Nest 2018                                                           Nest 2019


Bella has started back up bringing nesting materials, but I think it’s a bit too late at this point to corral the ‘teens’.

Bella delivering a stick to the nest this morning


‘Teens’ watching Mom Bella with stick delivery and placement
(Maybe now Bella is teaching the ‘teens’ on nest building?)


I don’t know what to make of such a poorly built nest two years in a row.  No matter the size though, it is now a houseful when all four Osprey are on the platform.

Full House


Beau doesn’t stay long though, he’s usually given words by Bella to leave.  She, herself, is also spending more time off the nest, giving the teens plenty of space to exercise those wings.

Yesterday, our area finally had a reprieve from the intense heat with showers most of the day.  It must have felt good to the ‘teens’.  This morning, the air is cool with temps in the 70sF with brisk winds.  The ‘teens’ are flapping away!

I’ll end with some galleries of some fave photos from the past week for your enjoyment.

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“Yummy, fish!”


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Bella’s very sharp talons


Bella in flight



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Beau in flight


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Beautiful Bella


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Bella watching over two sleeping ‘teens’


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Boating by Bella and her ‘teens’ at sunset


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Bella looking at her waking ‘babies’ during a hot & hazy sunrise


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Happy and full during a hot & muggy sunset


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Nest silhouetted on right over creek reflections at sunset


P.S.  A reminder, if you’re wishing to quickly jump from post to post within the Bella & Beau 2019 series to catch up or revisit, there is a TAB for them at the top of this page under the header photo that you can click on for easy access in date order.



51 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2019: It’s School Time

  1. Wow Donna, every set of the these beautiful birds you take are fantastic! The closeups in flight, and of those massive talons are beautiful. I’m glad the family has survived the heat and weather so well. ❤️

  2. As always, Donna, these are superb! I am especially enjoying comparing the development of your chicks as I believe they hatched the same time as ours. Our first one, I’m pretty certain, was June 1st. I have seen the oldest of the three regularly wingersizing, so given your expected fledge dates I will be watching ours closely. Wonderful series – thank you so much! I know it takes a lot of time to create each of your blog posts, and they are exquisite.

  3. Love, love this series! Sooo beautiful. Thank you for liking these captures, Donna.

  4. As always, your photos beautifully capture the ospreys’ form and function, Donna. Thank you for watching and reporting on the family. It is so nice to know that they are doing well.

  5. Hello Donna,
    What glorious views, and always such a joy to receive updates on the Osprey family. The “kids” are growing so beautifully, much credit to Bella and Beau! I couldn’t help but laugh at the nest…I hate to admit, but it does look quite poorly made 😀 (However, it seems to serve its purpose quite well)
    I have read of the dangerous heat wave in the news. Please do stay cool and safe ❤
    Best wishes always,
    Takami 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Takami! How can we not love Bella, Beau and family?!! 😊 I must admit I am hooked on them. My husband, bless his heart, puts up with my ‘other’ family, he even has more interest in them, although not near as me, lol. I love when he rolls his eyes at me, hee hee.
      The heat wave caused many event closings for last couple weekends due to the health risks of quick dehydration. Although it’s going to return, we just got a few days of reprieve and it has been heavenly! Staying cool however possible for sure, Takami, thanks so much! ❤

  6. Donna, your photos are so amazing!!! Thanks for sharing them. Such a treat to see them☀️💚☀️

  7. You have done a great job in documenting the process of strengthening one’s wings to get ready for the first flight. At first I thought the teens looked a little on the skinny side. Teaching nesting skills? Ha Ha, sometimes we teach in order to learn ourselves. Great captures and you make this family so personable.I have enjoyed them for the past two years.

    • Thank you very much, Jane! If I only had skinny legs like the teens ha ha. Boy, when they eat, their crop and gut gets huge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen birds poo so much, lol. You’re right, Bella ought to have Beau teach the teens about nest building skills so he can learn alongside them! 😉 Thank you again, Jane, B&B are our ‘extended’ family!

  8. Simply and utterly breathtaking addition to the series. My favorite shots in this post were Teens watching Mom Bella fly. They are such gorgeous birds. Happy to see these two make it this far.

    • Thank you so much, Gunta! I just love when the teens synchronize together in watching Bella and Beau!! I have many more shots of them doing it again and again. Makes me smile too. 😊

  9. Pingback: Bella & Beau 2019: Well, That Was Quick! (A Quick Update) | Photos by Donna

  10. I hope you get to see them fly the nest. It was one of the greatest joys in my life to have watched three small wrens preparing for their first flight, and then watching them take flight for the first time. I can only imagine how much better it would be to watch the osprey.

    • I know what you mean about seeing the ‘first’ flight. I saw the first Osprey chick last year take its first flight. Check out my next post….I missed this year’s But! This morning I was up at sunrise and watching the nest, saw the chick take its second flight and make a haphazard landing back on the nest in a few minutes. He/she’s got it now! 🙂

  11. I feel for the birds in that horrible heat you have been having lately. Hope it stays cooler for a bit longer to give everyone a rest from the stifling heat.

  12. Many beautiful captures Donna! showing how fast they are growing. I imagine that it has been ‘many fish caught’ later to feed these new mouths, to bring them to this remarkable size. You have documented the Osprey life so well!

    • Thank you, Ashley! It’s been great to see the size of the incoming fish increasing as well. Reports on our Chesapeake Bay’s quality has improved greatly in the last few years. Fishing and crabbing are both thriving, which of course the Osprey are smart and know this. No wonder we have such a huge Osprey population on the our bay, it is so awesome!

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