“Life is for the birds” at Ocean’s Reach!
Among our guests’ favorite features here at Ocean’s Reach is our osprey-cam, providing a bird’s eye view of our favorite feathered friends as they return annually to make their home on Sanibel Island.
We’ve long enjoyed watching a family of resident Osprey at the resort. Seven years ago, we constructed a special 35-foot nesting platform expressly for them. For five years, fans were able to watch as the male and female osprey, who mate for life, flew back to each other in the fall and raised a family each spring.
The last couple of years, however, have taught us a poignant lesson in nature. Two years ago, the female did not return to Ocean’s Reach, leading the male to try to establish a pair bond with a new mate.
Unfortunately, the pair has yet to successfully mate. This year, our osprey have encountered a new challenge … a pair of Bald Eagles who also want to lay claim to the nest!
Earlier this month, a pair of bald eagles started showing up periodically in our nest. After consulting our birding expert friend Mark “Bird” Westall, we learned that the male eagle, whose eye stripe indicates that he is a “very young adult,” may have a potential mate and is desperate to establish a territory that is not already occupied on the island (Sanibel is limited in suitable tall, super-canopy trees that can hold an eagle nest). According to Mark, “Young eagles that have not been able to establish a territory yet would be trying very hard to do so, especially if they had a potential female mate sitting around ‘twiddling her thumbs’ expecting the male to find a spot.”
But it certainly looks as though our osprey are not going to give up without a fight … literally. They have been “buzzing” the eagles repeatedly and seem intent on reclaiming their site. Adolpho captured this video the other day showing their aerial attacks.
The odds are highly unlikely that the eagles will ultimately nest here, as they typically like to be 70-80 feet high in a much more shaded and secluded area. With that being said, however, the eagles have visited daily for several weeks now, using the Ocean’s Reach nesting platform as a place to perch and eat.
Mark explains: “If the eagles really want the site, they can win the site. But I doubt that they are really interested, more like they are desperate. The male osprey is the one who probably has the greatest desire to maintain the territory, so my bet would go for him to win out in the end. We will just have to wait and see how things play out.”
So we’ll keep you posted! As soon as we have more “expert” news to share, we’ll do so. In the meantime, feel free to keep tabs on our osprey-cam to follow the remarkable action yourself!
- 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.”