Osprey Rejuvenation

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The Osprey are back to the Chesapeake Bay region, reclaiming their nest locations and reconnecting with their mates.  Osprey mate for life, and it’s been exciting to see so many pairs already reunited.  Last September 2022 was worrisome; we had seven named storms, including two major hurricanes, Fiona and Ian, that migrating east coast Ospreys had to survive.

The Osprey typically leave the Chesapeake Bay region late August through September, with the female departing first.  Each flies alone thousands of miles to South America for the winter.

There they live alone, enjoying the tropical vacation single life of fishing and relaxing until late February, when the instinct to return home to breed kicks in.

Most times we see the male arrive first.  His mission is to hightail it back to make sure he repossesses the nest location before his lady returns usually within days to a couple weeks.

Osprey arrive home looking ragged, thin, and exhausted for good reason. The thousands of miles just completed was challenging and in most cases nonstop into storms, high winds, and other hazardous situations.

Depending on the exact departure over the Caribbean Sea that all east coast Osprey must take, their flight includes a grueling 400-700 mile over-water flight that takes 27-40 hours, forcing the additional risk of night-time travel.

Just a little info.  😉  Now on with a gratifying photo series of what helps begin the Osprey’s rejuvenation, a bath!

I happened upon this female Osprey, who had reconnected with her mate just days prior at the first nest platform on the left when entering Eastern Neck NWR.

She was standing in the water, the male up on the platform watching me pull up.  I took a couple shots from my car window and moved on to leave her be.

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Osprey (female)

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Eleven minutes later I passed back by and found her still in the water, but now she was taking one of her  much needed feather-maintenance baths!

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Female Osprey taking a bath

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When finished, she took flight.

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When processing the next photo, I zoomed in to take a good look at her tail feathers, seeing several missing.

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It was then that I noticed some bling on her right leg.

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That last shot was as far back my body would turn from the car window, so I missed the shake-off!  As I pulled away, I watched her circle around, fly up, and land next to her mate.

As to the leg band, knowing it was probably a slim chance, I reported the three numbers I could read (692) and sent high-res photos for review, including the small letters underneath unreadable.

I just heard back the small letters are important in identifying the bander to move forward with the numbers, and they couldn’t read the letters either.  If I should obtain more photos over the course of the summer, I can resubmit with a report number.

Sounds like a plan! 😉

By the way….Welcome home, Osprey!  We missed ya!

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