Mama Osprey. The Female Leader with Natural Clout.

I know a leader when I see one. That’s how I’ve made my livelihood, at least to a part. Spotting leadership talent and helping it flourish.  Now I’ve spotted such talent in the nature reserve. Ready to lead. No coaching required.

roseate spoonbill and snowy egret
Community representatives: a Roseate Spoonbill and a Snowy Egret.

That’s Mama Osprey, of course. You knew it, right? Or you may want some proof? I have plenty.

First, she cares about her community. The salt marsh has plenty of fish, from huge footlongs to medium and small. It would be easy to just dive down from the nest and get breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like opening the fridge. But she doesn’t fish there.

Plenty of fish in the salt marsh
Plenty of fish in the salt marsh

She leaves the food supply for residents who can’t fish in the ocean. Like this tiny Tri-colored Heron.

tricolored heron caught a fish
A Tri-colored Heron caught a fish…

Second, she ensures peace in the community. She constantly scans the skies and the grounds for any threats. And warns the residents whenever she detects a potential danger. Like dogs walking their people or bicyclists on the foot path closest to the marsh.

 osprey watching the sky
Mama Osprey watching the sky to the South…
papa osprey watching the sky 2
…and to the North.

Or the two other ospreys, Stanley and Steve,  who have settled in the area. Don’t get me wrong. Mama Osprey lets them thrive in the park. And even allows them to use her favorite dead palm trunk as their breakfast bar.

Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk...
Stanley, the second Osprey, eats breakfast on the dead palm trunk…

But she keeps a watchful eye on their movements. And sends a message of caution, as and when warranted. It’s clear that she has earned their respect.

third osprey flying 6
Steve, the third Osprey, flies above the salt marsh…

Third, she’s on the top of everything in the community. Has the big picture. Gently keeps tabs on the residents’ comings and goings. Like this Great Blue Heron, who periodically takes trips to the bay-side to socialize with fishermen in exchange for free fish.

blue heron flying high up
The Great Blue Heron on his way from the salt marsh…
blue heron flying high 3
…to the bay-side.

Or the Pelicans who fly in shuttle traffic between the ocean and the bay right over the salt marsh.

two pelicans flying
Pelicans flying over the marsh towards the bay…

And the young Night Herons who practice landing at the tree tops with varying degrees of success.

A juvenile Night Heron about to land...
A juvenile Night Heron about to land…

And not to talk about the large Egret population that tends to move back and forth between the tiny islands in search of the best fish.

egret flying
A Great White Egret flies to better hunting grounds…

Fourth, Mama Osprey trusts her gut. I got proof of that just a couple of days ago when I met a nice bird photographer. He was a visitor, not familiar with the nature reserve . So we started to chat and I told him about the nest. After a while I heard Mama Osprey’s warning calls.  Unwanted disturbance too close to the nest.

papa ospreys nest from afar
Papa Osprey’s nest seen from the East end of the marsh…

And then saw the poor guy walk away from the vicinity of the nest. After he left, I went to see Mama Osprey. She was her calm, good-looking self and turned to greet me when I walked right under the nest. Not a peep, just a friendly nod. She definitely trusts her gut.

papa osprey saying hi to tiny
Mama osprey says hi…
papa osprey looking at the flowers
…and then admires the flowers on the ground.

Then we both admired the bright yellow wild flowers that had popped up right next to the nest pole. I snapped a picture, she checked on the little worm crawling on one of the flowers.

wild flowers below the nest

My conclusion, based on all this evidence, is that Mama Osprey is a pioneering community leader with natural clout. I hope you agree with my assessment.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Ps. This post has been edited after publishing when I discovered that PO (Papa Osprey) actually was Mama Osprey.


48 thoughts on “Mama Osprey. The Female Leader with Natural Clout.”

    1. Thanks kindly! This is not officially designated as a “reserve”, which I discovered only recently. Everyone here calls it “nature reserve”, but it’s a park where the natural habitat is being restored and the wildlife is protected. This area might be too small for an official designation as a reserve. The Sand Key Park is at the Northern end of our barrier island, between the ocean and the intra-coastal bay (water on three sides). It has a park with palms and dense forest with huge, old trees on one side, and public beach with parking and facilities on the other side. The salt marsh runs along its Southern border…so it’s kind of surrounded by water…and very popular with birds year round, both “permanent” residents and visiting migrating birds.

      1. Thanks Tiny! In November I’ll be going to Sarasota on vacation and I think I’ll make a detour to check that place and the beach of course. I saw it via satellite and looks very cool and ample open space which I like. I travel with my wife and 4 y.o. son. Thanks again for the information. I owe you one! 🙂

        1. You’re welcome! Sarasota is only about an hour to our south. The beach is excellent, quiet family beach. And you definitely need to plan for your son to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where Winter, the famous dolphin (from two films) lives. If you let me know when you’ll come, I’d be very happy to take you all for lunch “on the bay-side”. I’ll be grounding myself for the month of November to try finishing my second book with NaNoWriMo, so I’ll be here 🙂

          1. Tiny, you’re so kind! My intention is to find more places where I can shoot pictures and at the same time enjoy the beach with my family. I do that almost every year. I’m going to Sarasota because I’ve been there several times and I know nice places to do both, enjoy the beaches and shoot pictures.
            We could do is stop by and meet you but you don’t have to take us for lunch, you’ve been kind enough. From where I live is about 8 to Sand Bay Pk.
            We’re planning to go Saturday November 22nd and stay one night there in Clearwater and continue to Sarasota the following day in the afternoon. What do you think? Any ideas? 🙂

            1. Sounds like an excellent plan!! I’ll send you an email with some recommendations. Papa Osprey says welcome to his park 😀

    1. Thanks for seconding my assessment 😀 Today I discovered that “Stanley” doesn’t yet trust me…he allows for a few pictures but if I stay longer, he considers me a nuisance. So that makes me appreciate PO’s trust even more. ❤ & hugs!

    1. Oh, now you make me blush…and remember the countless shots where I only caught the blue sky or a fraction of a foot or a tail of some bird 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed the wingspans, Eric. And you are right in observing that PO has the confidence factor well honed in 🙂 Hope your weekend is going great!

    1. Happy you liked “my” birds. Maybe one day a humorous book about the birds…but I have my 2nd book to finish first, hopefully in the next few months….hopefully.

  1. Great shots! I love the bird life in Florida ~ one of our favorite things. We went to a sneak peek of Perico Preserve last night (Manatee County). It’s not open to the public yet, but the birds are moving in ~ cranes, osprey, eagles, egrets, spoonbills, herons, etc.

    1. Thanks for the tip on Perico! Will certainly visit once it opens. I’m so lucky to have all these birds at walking distance from home so I can combine exercise with bird watching.

  2. I agree with you. Papa Osprey is on top of his game. He has a deep understanding of his community and you are an important member of it. Your photos are fabulous, Tiny.

    1. I knew you’d agree, Gallivanta, because you know him too! I’m privileged to be part of his community, and be able to share the news 🙂

  3. Beautiful photos and narrative once again. Hope you are having a great weekend!

    p.s. I recommended your book to Nancy Hatch (NRHatch, Spirit Leads The Way blog). She also lives in FL and is an animal lover. 🙂

        1. Thanks a lot, Nancy! The book is really for dog lovers of any age…written by a dog. All the proceeds from its sales go to the Humane Society’s shelter here in Pinellas County. They do really great work with homeless animals!

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