Bella & Beau 2019: Momma Bella Is Gone, Teen ‘Tug-of-War’, and A Liquor Bottle

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

September 10, 2019


In the past after I’d publish my latest Bella & Beau post, I would then begin to fret, would I see anything new or cool or beautiful to share for the next post?


And every next post there’d be just way too much that’d I’d try desperately to ‘whittle’ down the photos to share, and still have too many to bombard you.  (Bless you all for your loyalty!)


And, yes, I did worry about this post to be published, as I know our area’s Osprey are all slowing disappearing as they take off on their migration to Central or South America.


By reading my post title, and once you’ve reached the end, I think you’ll agree, Bella & Beau’s Osprey World is going down in history as an entertaining season to the very end!


Yes, as the post title mentions, Momma Bella has left.  My last confirmed sighting of her was on August 27th.  I’ll share this next photo that is either Bella or Beau, but I just cannot confirm Bella.  It does appear there is a ‘necklace’ in a heavy crop; but it’s so far away, it could be ‘photo noise’ too.  So I’ll let you decide.  If this is Bella, then August 30th was my last sighting of her.


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August 30 – Is this Bella or Beau?  I am not sure.


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August 30th – Bella??


So where do Osprey migrate?

U.S. Northeast/Chesapeake Bay Osprey (Bella & Beau’s region) – to primarily South America, some to Central & the Caribbean

U.S. Midwestern Osprey – to Mexico, Central & South America, some to the Caribbean

U.S. Northwest Osprey – to south Texas, Mexico and Central America

Australasian Ospreys – most do not tend to migrate

Europe and northern Asia – to Africa, India and southeast Asia


In the U.S., there are scattered numbers of Osprey along the Pacific coast of Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as Arizona that do not migrate, nor do the Osprey migrate along the entire Gulf Coast, Florida, and the Atlantic coast of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.


Migrating adult Osprey will usually return to their previous wintering grounds.  They will typically fly alone.  Osprey will fly day and night, instinctively following their repeated migration routes, stopping to fish, eat, and rest as needed and if they can.


Unlike many raptors, Ospreys do not use updrafts and thermals to fly.  It is thought that Osprey use a variety of techniques for navigation, including the stars and the changes in the earth’s magnetic field.  Their average distance per day ranges from approximately 60 to 235 miles/day (95 to 380 km/day).


As with Bella & Beau and the teens, the U.S. Northeast Osprey will inevitably be making a 12+ hour-long flight at night over water to South America, which is possible because of the Osprey’s wing morphology and wing-loading characteristics.


Osprey chicks’ first migration is tricky.  They sometimes wander in wrong directions, hang out in areas too long, and can even get lost.  These mistakes can be detrimental.  The mission is to get to the Caribbean or South America and hang out there for another year and a half, then returning usually back to their birth area, ready to find a mate and begin their adult breeding lives.


So, we say, Bon Voyage, Bella!  May you fly safe, enjoy your tropical vacation, and return next March 2020 to rear another successful family to the Chesapeake Bay region!


I wonder if Beau feels a loss with Bella’s departure.  Do they communicate a goodbye before the split?  Beau will not see Bella again until March 2020.  Osprey mate for life, but they do not migrate or winter together.


The male Osprey stays on for up to another month after the female leaves to continue to assist the teens with mastering their fishing skills and feed them as needed.  Once the fishing skills are acquired, each Osprey teen will get an instinct to leave and will go.  Once the last teen has left, the adult male’s final duties are done, and he will head south as well.  Beau will be a one happy Osprey then, don’t you agree?!!


Now on to more great stories and photos to share….


I’m sure the mention of a liquor bottle in the post title got you wondering, eh?


I’ve noticed for several weeks something lying in the nest, but no photo could show anything for a share.  With my binoculars, it looked like a smashed plastic cup.


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Bonita and ‘something’ in the nest few weeks ago that keeps moving around


The morning of September 7th, I took a photo of this beautiful scene of Brad on the nest.


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A well fed-looking Brad enjoying the morning


What was that I saw hanging from the nest in the center?


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A liquor bottle!


The liquor bottle was wedged and hung that way all day and into the night.


Another shot later in the day


The next morning, the bottle was gone.  I checked the dock below but didn’t see it amongst the pile of branches that had fallen/knocked off the nest.


The bottle must be plastic, I can’t imagine the Osprey would want to carry a glass one to a nest.  But who knows with this couple.  Remember the stuffed animal toy from June?  (click the blue link to see that post)



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“Hello world from up here!”


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Bella feeding her babies in their nursery


Bella & Beau’s nest (or lack of) and accessories both this year and last have certainly been unique and different from normal Osprey nests for sure!


Well, it has continued to be a noisy past couple weeks.  Both Bonita and Brad have really been causing a ruckus with temper tantrum demands for fish.

Temper Tantrums


Dad Beau is usually nearby, mostly ignoring the pleas.

Dad Beau’s perches


I’ve noticed Bonita getting angry enough to leave the nest and fly off towards the river, maybe to give fishing another try, or “I’ll just do it myself”.  Which is what she and Brad need to do.


When not having a temper tantrum, the teens watch the water below intently.


Teens watching the water below


I see fish below me all the time, as well as larger fish suddenly, which I’m sure this is what they’re seeing also.


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There are tasty meals of fish in that water, Bonita and Brad!


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Bonita diving for a fish from the nest, but no success


But if one or both teens beg and cry for a fish for hours, Beau will come to the rescue with one.


A fish for Bonita


A fish for Brad



And if both teens are there at the fish arrival, then it’s up in the air who gets control of the meal.  With no sharing!


This next series is best viewed opened to run through what happens when a ‘tug-of-war’ occurs!  I ‘whittled’ it down to these 30+ shots but took over twice as many of the battle.


As you watch, see if you can anticipate who will win.  In the beginning, Bonita is on left, Brad is on the right, and a bewildered Beau in the back.

Bonita and Brad’s ‘Tug-of-War’


After a good meal of stinky fish, skimming to clean those talons is great hygiene.


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Bonita skimming the water, cleaning her talons


The teens have been having a little fun chasing the gulls up and down the creek.  It’s great for them in learning quick maneuver skills at split seconds.


Even the recent Canada Geese visiting the creek have had ‘attacks’.

Bonita attacking the Canada Geese


Catching Beau and the teens is getting harder as the nest sits empty for longer periods.

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A Blackbird looking for any leftovers


Here’s a few nest platform portrait shots……

Teen Portraits


Beautiful Bonita


Handsome Brad


I love when I see them in flight and am still getting some nice shots.

Here’s Beau in flight……

Beau in flight


Bonita in flight…..

Bonita in flight


And Brad in flight…..

Brad in flight


A final word, my last photos and sighting of Bonita were September 8th.  I did not see her yesterday nor today as of this publish.  So I am getting the feeling Miss Bonita’s internal instinct told her it was time to migrate.  I’ll be keeping a watch to see if I still spot her.


That leaves Dad Beau and teen Brad.  Brad is approximately one week younger than Bonita (the second-born chick of the brood of three was lost), so he’s possibly around for several more days or longer.  He was begging last evening for a fish, but Dad Beau ignored him while perched on a sailboat mast across the creek.


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Beau last night, ignoring Brad’s begging


Brad was up bright and early this morning continuing his beg to Beau.  Beau finally delivered a fish to a happy Brad.  I took some photos that I’ll download later for the next post.


I’ll end with photos of the Osprey teens ending their day with them aglow in two sunsets and one night shot.


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Another sunset with the northern clouds aglow


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One of the teens about an hour after sunset.
(I used my flash and am surprised I got this shot!)


Can an Osprey family be any more entertaining?!!!  Stay tuned for Brad and Beau’s final days and a season finale!



42 thoughts on “Bella & Beau 2019: Momma Bella Is Gone, Teen ‘Tug-of-War’, and A Liquor Bottle

  1. Have a good flight, Bella and stay away from those hurricanes! The teens need to stay away from the drink and perfect their skills with fishing, they have such an ample supply to choose from.I admire Beau for his parenting, staying behind with the young ones, which can make me forgive him for his transgressions of flying away and ignoring the family’s cries for fish in the earlier days.It has been an entertaining season and you have done a great job at recording the growth of another family. It will be interesting still to get some more shots of the Osprey as well as the others that fly through.

    • Thank you for your wonderful comments, Jane! Love your forgiving Beau, I’ve done the same thing, lol. Even the poor nest building! I did forget to put in this post of a female Osprey that flew around the nest a couple days ago, at first I thought OMGosh it’s Bella, but when she went past me, her chest seemed different. I then spotted her mate flying, and wouldn’t you know it, Beau came out of nowhere and quickly chased the two intruders away from the area. Yay, Beau! 🙂

  2. The time for goodbyes is near and tears will roll for they will depart following an imaginary chart. Sad but is part of their lives.
    We haven’t had any rain for over a week and the plants are drying out for lack of water. Take care, my friend. 🙂

    • Yes, it is bittersweet. I think my husband will enjoy having more time with me though, lol, he’s been a trooper with my journaling and even helped give me notice when something was happening. 🙂 Sorry to hear on the rain, we got a soaking from Dorian, but none since and now it’s to get a bit hot and muggy here. Ewww….was hoping that part of summer was gone. Have a great week, my friend! 🙂

  3. The one thing I know about birds, and nature, is that things are never as predictable as the scientists say. With the hurricane nearby and parts of the east coast so disrupted, they could be back, Donna. They are so lucky to have this safe and fish-filled platform to raise their chicks, it’s really wonderful. Great photos and a wonderful saga, my friend. Keep your eyes open this season, they could be back….

    • Thank you, Jet, they sure can be unpredictable at times, defying what the scientists say. I love it! I think it’s an awesome challenge of watching wildlife action in hopes of witnessing the extraordinary and out-of-place moments that occur that the daily people constantly around don’t even notice or see. This is what makes nature and wildlife special to me. You can bet I’m still looking for Bella and Bonita. Bonita did not show up to the nest again today nor did I hear her loud, wild screams that I had grown accustom to knowing it was her in the area, coming in for a landing. I’m glad Dorian is gone and the Atlantic is quiet for now. They just need a 2-3 week window! 🙂

  4. Safe travels to Bella and Bonita, I hope they stay safe from the rough weather. I will miss them, but thanks to you, can and will “re-visit” them through your beautiful photos. Beau is a wonderful father too ❤

    • Thank you, Takami, for your kind comments! Now that the Hurricane Dorian is past us, the Osprey have a 2-3 week window right now with no hurricane activity developing, so timing is good if/when they are ready. I hope Bella fared well with Dorian, but she’s one tough cookie, and done the migration trips before, she made it I’m sure! 🙂

      • I will continue to keep these beautiful birds in my thoughts. And apologies for being late, but I do hope the hurricane didn’t affect you too much! (We have many typhoons here too, and it can get quite scary sometimes…)

        • Awwww…..thank you Takami! And look at me here late, now I am super behind. It happens, right?!! We were very lucky with the hurricane missing us enough that we didn’t get the storm surge which was our biggest threat. We handled the winds, heavy rain, and flooding pretty well. Yes, they can be very scary!!

    • Thank you, Eliza! I’ve been amazed myself on always seeing something cool or neat to share. They have proven over and over they are quite entertaining. I’ve had many a good laugh with them! 🙂

  5. Wonderful images and narrative as always! I hope Bella makes it to her warmer region in the south and back again. I hope Beau and the teens are getting ready for their trip too.

    Most of all I hope they all make back to their platform there by you!

    • Thank you, Deborah! Fingers crossed and little prayers everyone stays the course and keeps clear of danger. So they can soon to be sipping tropical drinks by the beaches! 😉

  6. I’d say the distance shot was Bella…one last look before leaving. She had a necklace.

    The teens are beautiful. Teens always fight each other. I’m still sad about the lost chick.

    Beau is a good protector but, he is hinky on the food preparation. He is just cranky.

    It is amazing to me that you can tell these birds apart.

    • Thank you, Vic, love your comments! You know how they say, when they’re your twins, you know them. Guess it’s kinda like that. 🙂 I do know markings’ differences, there is a definite difference in the cries/sounds of Bonita & Brad (isn’t that crazy!), and I take so many photos, they too help me ID them with previous and after shots if I can’t tell myself. 🙂

      So sorry on late reply, I am super behind! 😩

  7. Thank you for another spellbinding chapter in the history of our favorite osprey family, Donna. Your photos are simply breathtaking.
    Let’s hope all four will have a safe journey and a safe return.
    Take care, Bella, Beau, Bonita, and Brad. We will miss you!

    • Thank you very much, Tanja! Who knew Osprey were so darn entertaining?! Of course, I did, I’ve followed them for many years. 😉 Fingers crossed for a safe journey for the 4-B’s when they left & as they go! 😊

  8. Another wonderful post! I think it’s interesting that they do not migrate together …. perhaps the reason they can mate for life … much like a long-married couple taking separate vacations!

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