The Palmetto Dunes Property Owners Association is excited to announce the re-launch of our nest camera live stream! Be sure your volume is up as you’ll now be able to hear these birds as well, and thanks to a new sensor, viewers will be able to watch them at night. We’re thrilled to be able to share this unique opportunity to view our avian residents up close, and to learn more about these magnificent birds.
Oprah and Oscar returned in February 2021 and Oprah laid three eggs in March. The eggs are speckled with beige and brown spots. Incubation lasts for 38 to 42 days. Eggs do not hatch at the same time. The first chick may hatch as many as five days before the last one, and the oldest chick often dominates over the younger nestlings. The first two chicks hatched the last week of April and first week of May. Sixty days after hatching, young osprey make their first flight! After fledging, the young remain with their parents for up to two months, and then remain at their wintering grounds for two to three years until they return north to make their first attempt at breeding. Turn on your volume and you’ll be able to hear their “chatter” as well.
Did you know that the name “Osprey” made its first appearance around 1460, via the Medieval Latin phrase for “bird of prey” (avis prede)? Some wordsmiths trace the name even further back, to the Latin for “bone-breaker”—ossifragus. Below you will find everything you ever wanted to know about the Osprey and more!
Why Is the Nest On the Water Tower?
Ospreys live in habitats with secure nesting sites and access to shallow water with strong fish populations – a perfect match for Palmetto Dunes’ unique lagoon system! They will readily build nests on manmade structures such as telephone poles, channel markers, duck blinds, and nest platforms designed especially for them. Such platforms have become an important tool in reestablishing Ospreys in areas where they had disappeared.
The Osprey is 20.5-23.6 inches long with a 5-5.5 foot wingspan. (That’s a big bird!) It has mainly white underparts and head, apart from a dark mask through the eye, and fairly uniformly brown upperparts. Its short tail and long, narrow wings with four long “finger” feathers (and a shorter fifth) give it a very distinctive appearance.
Adult males can be distinguished from females from their slimmer bodies and narrower wings. They also have a weaker or non-existent breast band than the female, and more uniformly pale underwing coverts. It is straightforward to sex a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds. In flight, Ospreys have arched wings and drooping “hands”.
Ospreys have high-pitched, whistling voices. Their calls can be given as a slow succession of chirps during flight or as an alarm call—or strung together into a series that rises in intensity and then falls away, similar to the sound of a whistling kettle taken rapidly off a stove. This second type of call is most often given as an unfamiliar Osprey approaches the nest. As the perceived threat increases, the call can build in intensity to a wavering squeal. Listen here!
Hunting & Feeding
Ospreys are expert hunters, well-adapted to catching live fish. Locating their prey from the air, ospreys will sometimes dive more than 100 feet, pulling up at the last moment before plunging feet-first into the water to capture a fish.
Sometimes going completely underwater, the osprey has unique nostrils that close to keep out water. Their heavily muscled legs, powerful wings, and strong feet allow them to catch and fly off with fish up to three feet below the surface of the water! As the osprey rises in flight, it will grasp the fish firmly with two claws facing forward and two facing back. Adult ospreys are capable of carrying fish that equal their own size.
Ospreys usually mate for life. In spring they begin a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. Females lay 3–4 eggs within a month, and rely on the size of the nest to help conserve heat. The eggs are approximately the size of chicken eggs, mottled and cinnamon colored; they are incubated for about 5 weeks to hatching. Incubation by one or both parents works together with the nest structure to provide an ideal environment for the eggs. Bird parents may also wet or shade the eggs to prevent them from overheating.
The newly-hatched down-covered chicks weigh only 2 ounces, but fledge within eight weeks. When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The osprey chicks will begin to grow feathers almost immediately, and will be ready to test their wings within 5 to 7 weeks.