Savannah Ospreys

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Camera Host: Skidaway Audubon

Find more about Weather in Savannah, GA

May 25, 2018

Female Osprey Chases Away Intruder While Holding Fish

On Skidaway Island, the female Osprey tracks an intruder (likely interested in a free meal) while feeding her chick. With the fish still in her talons, she darts off the nest in a vigorous aerial chase as soon as the intruder gets too close and drives the bird away into the cloudy blue backdrop. We wouldn't mess with this mama Osprey!  

May 23, 2018

Face to Face With Osprey Chick in Savannah

This close up on the Savannah chick gives viewers a great look at some of the typical characteristics of a young Osprey: pale tipped feathers, rusty-colored eyes, and a rufous wash along the nape and sides of the neck. 

May 21, 2018

Osprey Chick Self-feeds In Nest For First Time!

It's time to check off another developmental milestone for the Osprey chick in the Savannah nest! Here, the chick can be seen making its first attempt at self-feeding, using its sharply hooked bill to tear away tiny bits of a half-eaten fish that was brought to the nest. This behavior is typically observed at around 40 days post hatch (the chick is 36 days old), and we should expect to see the chick start taking fish directly from parents and feeding on its own as the nestling period progresses.  

May 25, 2018

Female Osprey Chases Away Intruder While Holding Fish

On Skidaway Island, the female Osprey tracks an intruder (likely interested in a free meal) while feeding her chick. With the fish still in her talons, she darts off the nest in a vigorous aerial chase as soon as the intruder gets too close and drives the bird away into the cloudy blue backdrop. We wouldn't mess with this mama Osprey!  

May 23, 2018

Face to Face With Osprey Chick in Savannah

This close up on the Savannah chick gives viewers a great look at some of the typical characteristics of a young Osprey: pale tipped feathers, rusty-colored eyes, and a rufous wash along the nape and sides of the neck. 

May 21, 2018

Osprey Chick Self-feeds In Nest For First Time!

It's time to check off another developmental milestone for the Osprey chick in the Savannah nest! Here, the chick can be seen making its first attempt at self-feeding, using its sharply hooked bill to tear away tiny bits of a half-eaten fish that was brought to the nest. This behavior is typically observed at around 40 days post hatch (the chick is 36 days old), and we should expect to see the chick start taking fish directly from parents and feeding on its own as the nestling period progresses.  

May 02

Youngest Savannah Nestling Dies

After several hours of inactivity in the nest bowl on the morning of May 2, the youngest Osprey chick appears to have died. Ultimately the cause of death is unknown; however, it’s most likely that the chick succumbed to lack of access to food or to injuries incurred from sibling aggression over the previous few days. While it is unfortunate to witness such an event, nestling mortality is not uncommon in wild bird nests. In Ospreys, older siblings have a higher survival rate than younger siblings, and nestling mortality is higher for the first 2-3 weeks after hatch during the peak period of growth. Despite the loss of their youngest chick, the adults still have a chance at having a successful breeding season, and we hope that you continue to watch and learn along with us as they work to raise their oldest nestling to fledge.  

April 18

Egg #2 Hatches On Savannah Osprey Cam!

On the Savannah Osprey cam, the second egg hatched in the evening ours of April 18 on its 38th day of incubation. Two down, one to go!  

April 15

Egg #1 Hatches In Savannah!

After 38 days of incubation, the first chick has hatched on the Savannah Osprey cam! The hatching was first spotted in the early morning hours of April 15 and received it's first meal shortly thereafter. The next hatchling should arrive any day now!  

Osprey

Tree

Nest Placement

Ospreys require nest sites in open surroundings for easy approach, with a wide, sturdy base and safety from ground predators (such as raccoons). Nests are usually built on snags, treetops, or crotches between large branches and trunks; on cliffs or human-built platforms. Usually the male finds the site before the female arrives.

Nest Description

Osprey nests are built of sticks and lined with bark, sod, grasses, vines, algae, or flotsam and jetsam. The male usually fetches most of the nesting material—sometimes breaking dead sticks off nearby trees as he flies past—and the female arranges it. Nests on artificial platforms, especially in a pair’s first season, are relatively small—less than 2.5 feet in diameter and 3–6 inches deep. After generations of adding to the nest year after year, Ospreys can end up with nests 10–13 feet deep and 3–6 feet in diameter—easily big enough for a human to sit in.

Clutch Size

1-4 eggs

Incubation Period

36-42 days

Nestling Period

50-55 days

Egg Description

Cream to pinkish cinnamon; wreathed and spotted with reddish brown.

Condition at Hatching

Capable of limited motion. Covered with down and with eyes open.

Fish

Food

The Osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats almost exclusively live fish. In North America, more than 80 species of live fresh- and saltwater fish account for 99 percent of the Osprey’s diet. Captured fish usually measure about 6–13 inches in length and weigh one-third to two-thirds of a pound. The largest catch on record weighed about 2.5 pounds. On very rare occasions, Ospreys have been observed feeding on fish carcasses or on birds, snakes, voles, squirrels, muskrats, and salamanders. Ospreys probably get most of the water they need from the flesh of their prey, although there are reports of adults drinking on hot days.

Typical Voice

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.
more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Savannah Ospreys

During the Fall of 2014, a pair of Great Horned Owls began frequenting this recently abandoned Bald Eagle nest adjacent to a protected, nutrient-rich salt marsh along the Georgia coast. The nest sits nearly 80′ above one of the six Audubon International Certified golf courses at The Landings, on Skidaway Island, near Savannah, Georgia. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, a pair of owls successfully fledged four owlets from the site, but they did not return to breed in 2017. Instead, a pair of Ospreys began renovating the nest and committed to breeding in the same site for 2017.

Ospreys are consummate fishing birds, and this pair fishes primarily from the nearby salt marsh, ponds, and waterways. They use their 6–7 foot wingspans to soar above the water, looking for fish, then diving as deep as 3 feet for shallow-swimming prey. Adult Ospreys usually weigh 3–4 pounds, and they can carry prey up to 50 percent of their own weight. Ospreys can live up to 25 years, and they typically lay 1–4 eggs in a clutch.

Most Osprey pairs are monogamous, staying paired across seasons and beginning nesting soon after each returns from a long migration. Both sexes incubate the eggs. The female sits for the majority of the time (including throughout the night) while the male provisions her with fish. After the eggs hatch, the male continues to bring fish to the nest; the female exclusively broods the young and dissects their meals for about a month after hatching. Later on, when the chicks no longer require her protection and their appetite for fish increases, she will leave the nest and go fishing.

Acknowledgements

The installation was funded by Skidaway Audubon, with approval from the Landings Club board. Essential species-specific information and support came from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Streaming systems vendor HDonTap installed the cameras and provided the managed live streaming service.

Support for the installation and upkeep has come from The Landings Association and The Landings Club with additional funding from Ogeechee Audubon, the Coastal Conservation Association, The Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association, the Georgia Golf Environmental Foundation and Wild Birds Unlimited, Savannah.