February 05, 2021

Hey, That's My Nest!

ospreys 4

Back in July, after parking near one of my favorite hiking spots at the local state park, I encountered a woman I perceived to be a park ranger. She was viewing (with binoculars) a nest on top of a very tall (30-40 feet?) power pole platform, using binoculars. I couldn't see what was in the nest, so I asked her. She informed me it was an osprey nest.

Unfortunately, I didn't have binoculars or a good camera with me, so I came back a few days later.

ospreys 1

Luckily, the ospreys were again in their nest and protective of their young. They gave me a little show, including sound effects.

ospreys 2

ospreys 3

ospreys 5

mystery creature

Recently, I noticed two people, again with binoculars, viewing that same nest. I perceived some slight movement in the nest, but again I didn't have binoculars or my good camera with me. (Note to self: Keep some binoculars in the car.) I thought: It can't be ospreys because they don't overwinter here!

So, again, I went back a few days ago with my camera and snapped a few captures. Can you tell what's in the nest? I couldn't, until I came back home and downloaded the photos.

owl

I do believe it's a great horned owl! It's harder for me to zoom in on the bird from below, but I intend to go back yet again to get some better shots from a different angle.

Apparently, great horned owls usually adopt nests created by other species, so this isn't unusual. This nest is in a prime location: near a lake, wooded areas, and open prairies. I'm sure both species' diet options at this spot are plentiful and diverse: from fish to rodents to rabbits and more. It's fascinating to observe both species of birds of prey.

30 comments:

  1. How exciting - to see two quite different birds!

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    1. Yes, and it's a beautiful location. So much wildlife all around. I hope the ospreys will be back again in the spring and summer.

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  2. That's wonderful! The ospreys are quite interesting, although if their territory includes SoCal, I've yet to hear or see them. I would love to have a box to attract owls.

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    1. According to All About Birds, they winter in your area. I don't remember seeing them when we've visited during winter months in the past, but I'll have to make a note of it next time we're out there (I have family members who live in L.A. and San Diego. Plus, I love SoCal!). We often have owls in our backyard here. They like to hang out in our huge Oaks. They're special, and they eat rabbits.

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  3. What a fascinating story. I clicked on the osprey sound link and I think I will recognize that call, if/when I hear it. I'm not very knowledgeable about birds and bird calls but I am learning. Slowly.

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    1. I am the same way about birds, Pat. I need to study more to be able to positively ID them. I know the ones that hang out in the backyard, but I need to check on many others. My talents with recognizing calls are lacking, but it is fun to sleuth and figure it all out. :)

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  4. Very cool! I have never seen an osprey. There are great horned owls in our area, I think, but have never seen one of them either.

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    1. The ospreys are full of personality. I've seen them in the south, too, when visiting during the winter. We often have great horned owls in our backyard. I can hear them at night, and have seen them a couple of times. I would think the ospreys would be common along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

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  5. WOW! We have osprey that nest in the area of our Sportsmen's club. My husband has a meeting next week, I am going to have him look up at the nest.
    Amazing find Beth, I hope you see the little owlets peeking out someday during a hike.

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    1. Yes, it will be fun to check the nest each week for activity. It's more difficult to photograph activity of owls because they hide down in the nest, where the ospreys often perch on the edges. But I think if I try to move to higher ground and zoom in, I might have some success. Wish me luck. ;-)

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  6. Oh how exciting . ..
    a “two for one” kind of happening . . .

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    1. Yes, indeed. I visit this location about once a week (except during the polar vortex), so it will be fun to follow the nesting activity.

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  7. That is so cool. Looking forward to more pictures. So many things one often wishes we had thought to put in the car before setting out!

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    1. That is so true, Linda, about the car supplies. And then I also have quite a few objects that should be cleaned out of the car. ;-)

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  8. Neat! Any idea what will happen if/when the ospreys return?

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    1. Very good question! I'll have to check back often during the spring. This article is interesting:
      https://blog.nature.org/science/2018/04/18/osprey-cams-nest-is-occupied-by-an-owl/

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  9. Wow! I have seen Ospreys with young in a nest (north of us in Tennessee), but never thought that an Owl or any other bird might take it over!

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    1. Apparently it's not uncommon. I found several references to it, including the link shown in my response to Hollis above. These birds of prey are fascinating, aren't they?

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  10. Lucky you to have observed this. I hope you'll keep us updated!

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    1. Yes, it's wonderful to observe it. I will keep you posted. :)

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  11. How amazing.Wonderful shots of the osprey and then to find the nest being occupied again and this time by owls must have been very exciting. I agree, it would be handy having binoculars in the car.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris. Yes, I keep going back to the spot because it's a hiking trail I visit regularly with my dog. The owl survived our long, polar stretch of weather. I got a few more photos of its ears. Can't seem to get on ground high enough to see any more of its body. It will be interesting to see what happens in the spring.

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  12. I loved your photos of the osprey, and I especially enjoyed the sound effects! I am always wishing I had my good camera with me; I still remember great shots I have missed through the years!

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    1. Yes! So many shots missed; sometimes I wish I could just blink my eyes to capture the scenes. ;-)

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  13. This is wonderful, how lovely to be able to see these birds. I do hope you get chance to go back.

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    1. Oh, I will. I've been back multiple times since this post, because I wanted to check out the nest and it's adjacent to a great hiking path where I frequently walk with my dog. I'll keep you posted. :)

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  14. Home exchange sounds like fun. Nice photos!

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    1. Thanks, Becky. I encountered another hiker there the other day who mentioned someone had told her this was a regular "sharing" arrangement between the two species. Since I'm relatively new to this hiking area, it's all new for me. I hope I'll be able to witness some of the "transition" time. Do the owls leave before the ospreys get back? Do they easily surrender the nest? Is there a tussle to reestablish the ospreys' summer nesting? I'm not sure I'll be there when it happens, but it would be interesting, for sure.

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  15. So who gets the nest when the ospreys return?

    Jeannie@GetMeToTheCountry

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    1. Good question! As I commented to Becky, another hiker mentioned someone had told her this was a regular "sharing" arrangement between the two species. I hope I'll be around to see some of the transition.

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