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.
August 30 – Is this Bella or Beau? I am not sure.
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.
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.
A well fed-looking Brad enjoying the morning
What was that I saw hanging from the nest in the center?
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)
“Hello world from up here!”
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.
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.
There are tasty meals of fish in that water, Bonita and Brad!
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.
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.
A Blackbird looking for any leftovers
Here’s a few nest platform portrait shots……
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.
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.
Another sunset with the northern clouds aglow
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!