This is a long post. Confessions tend to be long. And I don’t even know how to begin. But I can’t do another post about the Osprey family without telling the truth. Now that I know it.
Here we go. Papa Osprey is actually Mama Osprey. Phew…I feel better already! This week I have realized I made a mistake last summer when one of the osprey parents returned to the nest. I studied my pictures from the nesting season taken with my old camera. I had no clear close-ups, and both ospreys seemed to have a “necklace”, although I now realize Papa’s is much smaller and mainly visible in flight from the side. I came to the (wrong) conclusion that the osprey reclaiming the nest was Papa Osprey. That also aligned neatly with the traditional gender roles for ospreys. But Mama Osprey is not a conformist. She’s a trailblazer for female ospreys! She did many things usually done by male ospreys. And the male osprey I thought was Papa’s friend Stanley is actually Papa Osprey! He’s been hanging around Mama for quite a while now. They have even been fishing together. So now you have it. And I will need to correct all my posts about “PO”. That will take some time…
Since I already gave a name for Papa, I thought I’ll need to give one for Mama too. She cannot simply be “PO” any more. She will be Sandy…because she’s living in Sand Key Park. So please check out the handsome couple: Mrs. Sandy and Mr. Stanley Osprey.
Last Sunday, January 11, I went for a jog around salt marsh. I saw Mama Sandy in the nest, but still thought it was Papa Osprey. She was calling and calling! But it was a call that I recognized Mama Osprey did repeatedly last year, and I had not heard “PO” do, ever. “Bring me fish!!” I realized something was not right. Listen to this.
She continued to call for about 10 minutes, and then suddenly (just when I was talking to another jogger, of course) I see an osprey fly in with a fish for the osprey in the nest. Male ospreys do that when they start courting and rebuilding the nest. He feeds her.
I still wasn’t willing to admit my mistake. But the next day, I witnessed (from my terrace) Papa Stanley performing the “sky dance” when Mama Sandy was in the nest. He hovered high above the nest and then did a dramatic dive, rose again and dove again. I got one good picture of his flight and another of Mama in the nest.
Then I’ve followed them all week long from my terrace. They have continued their courtship and the big nest remodeling project.
Today I saw them both in the nest and apologized for my embarrassing mix-up. They seemed okay about it, both of them tolerated me in their social space. I could approach the nest with no alarm calls from Papa Stanley.
In a way it’s good that I am bff with Mama Sandy, since she’s the one who’s going to feed the nestling(s). Maybe I can get closer than last year to take pics of the little one(s) without her being alarmed.
I hope you’ll also have a forgiving heart, and still look forward to the nesting season adventures of Sandy and Stanley. ❤ Tiny