The Osprey is a species that I’ve only had a handful of opportunities with but last spring I found a cooperative nesting pair at Flaming Gorge.
In my mind this is a true miracle species because it has arisen Phoenix-like from the ashes of its own demise. During the 1950s-1970s their populations crashed dramatically, largely due to the effects of DDT and other persistent pesticides in the environment which caused severe eggshell-thinning and poor hatching success. But when those chemicals were banned the Osprey made a miraculous comeback and today their numbers are approaching historical highs.
Part of the reason for that success has been the widespread use of artificial nesting sites. In some areas of North America, 90-95% of all nesting pairs choose these artificial sites over natural ones. The nest of this mated pair was on a pole installed for that purpose close to Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
1/1600, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, cloned out a piece of nest platform, not baited, set up or called in
This is most likely the male of the pair (less conspicuous breast band) bringing a small fish in to the incubating female on the nest platform.
1/2500, f/7.1, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, not baited, set up or called in
I believe this to be the female coming into the nest.
1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, canvas added, natural light, not baited, set up or called in
When the male would bring its mate a fish she would take it to another perch to enjoy her meal as the male took over incubation duties. Here she’s circling the nest on her return.
1/2000, f/7.1, ISO 500, 500 f/4, 1.4 tc, natural light, not baited, set up or called in
The female approaching the nest after a short break from incubation.
1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, 500 f/4, natural light, not baited, set up or called in
Here the female is coming into the nest as the smaller male (up to 25% smaller by weight) incubates. The light was a little harsh but I like the inclusion of both birds.
This nesting platform was right next to a parking lot and boat ramp and these birds were acclimated to human activity and not disturbed by my presence.
I’m already planning another trip to “the gorge” this summer. Perhaps two…