Ospreys Engaged in Nest Building at SouthCoast Rookery

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Streaks through SouthCoast Rookery

The SouthCoast rookery accommodates both osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and great blue heron (Ardea hernias) pairs on adjacent treetop nests abutting a large fresh water pond.  Both species are large birds with enormous wing spans, both share a diet of fish harvested from the pond and nearby Sippican harbor, and both are seemingly dedicated parents that favor these coastal aeries.  While heron nests outnumber osprey nests at least four to one in this rookery, ospreys are clearly the more aggressive species.  Each spring we watch as ospreys evict the earlier arriving herons from the prime nest in the rookery.  As ospreys take flight and swoop near heron nests, treetops explode in raucous “kronks.”

Osprey Pair Reinforcing Nest in SouthCoast Rookery

On Monday, April 7th, the weather broke for the better and sunshine dominated the SouthCoast.  Both great blue heron and osprey pairs in the rookery began to gather branches and twigs to strengthen and reinforce their nests.  (ASIDE:  The Turtle Journal team observed during the weekend storms that ospreys maintained their presence on the treetop nest, while great blue herons took shelter lower to the ground, leaving the nests unoccupied.)

Osprey Brings Branch to Reinforce Nest

We have described herons as graceful during these nest building flights.  For ospreys, though, the adjective that best describes their flight is powerful.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Pair Engaged in Nest Building

Ospreys screech calls to each other as one approaches the nest.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Soars over SouthCoast Rookery

Osprey and heron pairs occupy the rookery during the nesting season from late March to early June.  After chicks fledge and are nudged from the nest, these magnificent birds head about a mile south to Sippican Harbor and Buzzards Bay.  As the Turtle Journal paddles through the harbor researching terrapins, we coast past great blue herons hunting the marsh channels and cruise under soaring ospreys fishing from high above.  We feel fortunate to witness the full cycle for both these exquisite animals: courting, nesting, rearing, fledging and foraging … before they depart the Great White North for parts south in the fall.

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