I Made a Mistake. But Have Been Forgiven. By the Ospreys.

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.

two ospreys
Mama and Papa osprey flying together

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.

Mama and Papa osprey
Mama and Papa 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.

Papa Stanley brought a fish for Mama Sandy
Papa Stanley brought a fish for Mama Sandy

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.

Sky dance by Papa Stanley
Mama osprey in the nest
Mama Sandy 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.

Mama osprey redesigning the nest
Mama Sandy redesigning the nest

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.

Papa and mama in the nest...forgiving
Papa and mama in the nest…forgiving

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.

Love birds...
Love birds…

I hope you’ll also have a forgiving heart, and still look forward to the nesting season adventures of Sandy and Stanley. ❤ Tiny

58 thoughts on “I Made a Mistake. But Have Been Forgiven. By the Ospreys.”

  1. How hilarious but with a non-conformist like Mama Sandy, she wasn’t making things easy for you. Fabulous captures – Stanley looks simply magnificent with such a wide wing-span doing the “sky dance” (who says size doesn’t matter?!) – Sandy’s chosen well! Have a wonderful week-end 🙂

    1. Now I can laugh about it, but first I couldn’t believe it. Mama is something else! Yes, Stanley is impressive, I still need to learn to adjust my zoon quickly when he’s going to fly 🙂 Have a great weekend yourself!

  2. Don’t you love how animals (like humans) can break the rules? 🙂
    I’m sure Sandy and Stanley will forgive you, especially since you’ve been featuring them so nicely in your posts 🙂 They are a beautiful couple and I look forward to seeing more of their adventures!
    Takami 🙂

    1. I studied osprey behavior after the nesting season last year, and Sandy did not behave like a typical female osprey. She truly fooled me 🙂 They are a beautiful couple and in full gear on their remodeling of the nest. It gets bigger and better every day 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Takami.

    1. I just had to tell how it is…And I’m happy they are together again starting the nesting season on time, exactly like last year. I didn’t have a good zoom then, which is only partly to blame for my mix-up…Happy you like our couple 🙂

  3. I’m just amazed that you can tell the difference at all! I’m loving the names, Sandy and Stanley just seem to fit. I do love a woman who breaks the mold. And you and Mama Sandy both do it so well. ❤

    1. I can tell the difference now that I can see them in close-ups. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the request for fish! Sandy is something else! Last year I saw she knew exactly how she wanted the nest to be, but now we know so much more about her. I like the names too 🙂 Have a good weekend, my friend!

  4. LOL, well, I’m really glad that’s been sorted out! 🙂 They are beautiful birds, that’s for sure, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the babies in due course. Keep the photos coming, please!

    1. I’m happy my apologies were well received 😀 They are very interesting birds and I am also looking forward to their nesting season. I’ll continue my reporting as often as I can 🙂

    1. Yes, and Stanley is a little smaller when you see them perching in a position where you can compare. In today’s pictures he was in the forefront.

    1. It was hilarious and embarrassing to make that mistake, but luckily they don’t read my posts 🙂 and everyone else can have a little fun on me! They are a beautiful couple and it’ll be interesting to see how many offspring they’ll have this year.

  5. Oy! I am so confused. But enjoyably so. 🙂 I understand the need/desire to rename both birds but to me they will remain PO and MO – genders just reversed. I hope they don’t mind. More importantly, I’m glad the courtship is in full swing and the photo of MO (formerly PO) redesigning the nest is spectacular!

    1. Oh – I was so confused! I had them “right” last season, then I mixed them up in the summer. I shouldn’t have read so much, like that the male usually reclaims the nest, bla,bla,bla. MO did all that. What a bird! And now she’s enjoying nest building and being served fish by PO 🙂

    1. I had them “right” last year and then I confuse them and created this “opera act” 🙂 But luckily their “nestorations” are in full swing now and they are not confused about where this is going!

  6. Haha! Here I was, impressed that you had discerned the gender of the various osprey (when I give myself a pat on the back for distinguishing between Great Blues, Egrets, Roseates, Ibis, Osprey, Eagle, etc.), and named the characters in the park with suitable monikers.

    And, now, the truth comes out! 😛

    No matter. YOUR photos are worth a thousand mixed up muddled up words . . . and Stanley and Sandy agree!

    1. The truth always comes out! After having them “right” last season, I mixed them up in the summer and couldn’t believe my eyes first when I started realizing what muddle soup I had cooked up. Luckily they are a happy couple again, that’s all that matters 🙂

  7. I’m impressed that you can identify ANY of them. You could have told me that the random ospreys from Honeymoon Island were PO or MO, and I would have believed you. 😀

    1. But I’m not like that 😀 Anyway, now I have them all sorted out. And there seems to be another osprey couple in this park too. The one I named “Steve” seems to be courting too now. Flying together with a female. I just haven’t found their nest as yet 🙂

  8. Oh gosh, Tiny. This is a magnificent post. WONDERFUL photos. And that call! I’m sure no one cares a bit about the Mama and Papa confusion. You do of course, because you have observed them so closely, and you do not want to do them a disservice.

    1. Thanks Tish! I know the call so well and that’s when I started to doubt myself, observed them closely and researched my files again. But now we are in the clear, they are happily building their home and that’s all that matters.

  9. All of your pictures are amazing sweet Tiny. Who is who matters not to me the beautiful pictures is what I enjoy. I am glad those beauties have forgiven you and all is well between you. So looking forward to all the future pictures. Hugs, Maggie

    1. Thank you, dear Maggie, for your kind words. They seem to have forgiven me and appear so content and happy together…my heart melts when I look at them 🙂 I plan to go see them tomorrow again for another report sometime next week. Hugs and best wishes, Tiny

  10. Woohoo Tiny!! SO great to see them together … and to see the difference between male and female. Sandy and Stanley are amazing!
    Thank you for capturing them so well 🙂

    1. They look like “made for each other”, don’t they! I’m happy both have survived the summer/fall and seem to be in good health. The nest is getting bigger every day now 🙂

  11. There’s a comfort in knowing that those of us who visit on a regular basis did not notice either. Interestingly enough the posts that featured said critter work just as well when you substitute manna for papa:-)

    1. I think I was a bit conditioned by their “normal” behavior and did not check my own (not so clear last year) pics carefully enough…that was a tiny lesson right there…and yes, I think it works too!

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