“Life is for the birds” at Ocean’s Reach!
During nesting season, our brand new osprey-cam is up and active, giving you a bird’s eye view of our favorite feathered friends as they make their home here on Sanibel Island.
For the past five years, Ocean’s Reach guests have enjoyed watching an osprey family in a special 35-foot nesting platform constructed specially for the birds at the resort. Fans watch as the male and female, who mate for life, fly back to each other in the fall … lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs in early winter … incubate the eggs diligently for five weeks … and then help as their nestlings hatch and fledge 8-10 later!
This past nesting season taught us a poignant lesson in nature. The female did not return to Ocean’s Reach in the fall, leading the male to try to establish a pair bond with a new mate. We were excited when three eggs were laid, but then heartbroken when we realized not one of them were going to hatch. Osprey experts hypothesized that there could have been several reasons for the nest failure: unusually cold temperatures we experienced this winter, possibly a level of immaturity with the young female, or perhaps the eggs of such a new pair were never actually fertilized.
On the bright side, there will always be next year. The osprey-cam gives us an intimate view of these magnificent birds of prey, and as our friend Mark “Bird” Westall says, “makes nature’s successes just that much more of a thrill to watch!”
Osprey are just a part of the remarkable wildlife — including more than 220 species of birds — you can find here on Sanibel Island. We’re blessed with several types of bird habitats, including mangrove stands, beaches and freshwater wetlands, and with an average yearly high of 81 degrees Fahrenheit (and a low of 65), Sanibel Island is the ideal spot for year-round birding!
- Occurring on every continent except Antarctica, the osprey is the one of the most widespread birds of prey. Their habitats include shallow water estuaries, lakes, and rivers.
- Ospreys are a medium-large raptor, measuring 21-24.5 inches long with a 4.5 to 6 foot wingspan.
- Females tend to be larger than males and have darker streaking on the neck.
- The osprey’s wings are long and pointed, its beak is gray, and its legs are stout and heavily scaled.
- Also known as a fish hawk, the osprey exhibits several adaptations to hunting and eating fish: dense and oily plumage, long and sharp talons, scaly soles, and a reversible outer toe that helps with carrying fish through the air.
- Upon sight of its prey, the osprey makes a spectacular dive. Folding its wings tightly, it descends swiftly and plunges feet first into the water, often submerging completely. Another technique is a shallow scoop for fish at the surface of the water, where the osprey hardly gets wet.
- Once an osprey has captured a fish in its talons, it turns the fish’s head forward to make it more aerodynamic as the bird flies back to its nest.
- Ospreys three years or older usually mate for life and tend their young together. Once their young are fledged, the parent ospreys usually take “separate vacations.”