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.
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.
Cream to pinkish cinnamon; wreathed and spotted with reddish brown.
Condition at Hatching
Capable of limited motion. Covered with down and with eyes open.
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.
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.
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.
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.