May 192013

For the third year, I am watching this Osprey nest. It is located in the Whatcom Creek gorge, just downstream from Whatcom Falls Park, Bellingham, Washington. For more background, please see my previous posts about the 2012 and 2011 nesting seasons.

I started watching the nest in mid to late March. On March 29, 2013, I saw the male for the first time this year. As usual, he arrives first to establish the territory, and to protect and repair the nest. He is banded, making him easy to distinguish from the female. After his long journey {I sure wish I knew where he winters}, he spent a lot of time resting and preening.

Osprey nest 2013

Papa Osprey resting after his return journey

Osprey next 2013

Papa Osprey preening

On March 31, 2013, Pa was still waiting for his mate to return from her winter vacation.

Osprey nest 2013

April 11, 2013

… Ma has returned. Her presence has stimulated a lot of action in and around the nest. Pa is bringing her fish. They both work on the nest and mate often.

Osprey nest 2013

Pa with a fish

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013
St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

Pa with Koi fish

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St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

Pa delivers the Koi leftovers to Ma


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St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

Pa working on repairing the nest

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

The pair take a break from their nest repair chores


While she is still eating the fish that Pa presented to her, he mounts her and the pair mate.


St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

Pa zooms around the area and then resumes nest repair.

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

April 14, 2013. Both birds are perched near the nest. Pa flies over to Ma and approaches as if to mate with her. She rejects his advance, possibly because her perch was not stable. He switched to nest building activity.

St.Clair Osprey nest 2013St.Clair Osprey nest 2013St.Clair Osprey nest 2013


St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

 April 22, 2013

Pa stretches, mates with Ma and they both continue to work on the nest.

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013
St. Clair Osprey nest 2013


St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013



April 24, 2013

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013



 April 25, 2013

Ma perched and stretching.

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They mate. She will be laying her eggs soon.


St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013


St. Clair Osprey nest 2013St. Clair Osprey nest 2013

April 30, 2013

I found Mama Osprey perched in a tree on the near side of the gorge. She was preening in the light rain showers.




She shakes off the raindrops and prepares to fly.

May 1, 2013

Things have changed around the nest. I almost never see both birds off of the nest at the same time. I’m certain that eggs have been laid. My visits usually occur in the morning. It appears that Ma takes the night shift and Pa relieves her in the morning. After the switch, Ma is seen preening and stretching.

In these photographs Pa flies into the nest, Ma flies out and stretches.

May 4, 2013

Ma in the morning.


May 31, 2013

It appears that Ma takes the night shift,  and Pa relieves her in the morning. When I visit in the morning, Ma is usually perched nearby, preening and stretching out the kinks from a long night on the nest.



June 4, 2013



Pa delivers a fish to the nest.



Pa spots an intruder and takes off to chase it away from the nest area.


June 6, 2013

Pa flies in with a large perch {?} that is still flopping.

He pauses to kill the fish before proceeding to deliver the fish to Ma, waiting in the nest.


June 17, 2013

Though I can not see the babies, it is clear from the parents behavior that the eggs have hatched. Pa is very busy providing fish, and Ma is busy feeding the kids. She has also returned to getting new sticks for the nest. While I watched on this day, she spent a lot of time working on a perimeter fence for the nest.




June 29, 2013

For the first time, two chicks are seen in the nest. Ma is looking after them. Pa is still working on the nest. He brings in a stick.



June 30, 2013

Ma and Pa perched near the nest on a warm morning.



With Pa left to look after the nest, Ma flies off and disappears for about 25 minutes. When she returns, she is all wet. My first thought is that she has been fishing, but came up empty. After more observation, I realize that she has found a quiet spot in the creek and taken a cooling and cleansing bath. She preens and dries in the sun.

An intruder flies around the nest air space.

The intruder perches on a tree directly above the nest. This is, of course, unacceptable and the intruder is quickly driven away by Ma.



 After the intruder has been vanquished, Ma flies into the nest, soon followed by Pa returning from his fishing trip with the goods.


July 3, 2013

Ma is still working on the nest, Pa is stretching.

Once again, Ma returns from her morning bath.


July 4, 2013

It was a normal day at the nest. Ma doing most of the nest chores, bringing in fresh nesting materials and feeding the kids. Pa continues to be an excellent provider.



July 6, 2013


The kids are growing daily and starting to exercise their wings.

An intruder flies by. This happens many times a day. The parents scream and sometimes chase the intruders out of the area. I have to wonder if some of the intruders are their offspring from previous years.

 Ma flies into the nest.

Pa has a fish, but hesitates to bring it into the nest. After the intruder is gone, he delivers the fish to the kids and Ma in the nest.



July 14, 2013

From her usual perch, Ma can see Pa approaching from quite a distance. She usually precedes Pa into the nest to receive the fish and feed the kids.

The kids are starting to get big and exercise their wings. The parents are spending less time in the nest.



July 15, 2013

Another typical day at the nest. Ma perched near the nest, defending the nest and feeding the kids. Pa works hard fishing one trip after another. On average, he is gone about an hour between fish deliveries.



 July 16, 2013

Pa perches short of the nest and eats his share before delivering the fish to Ma and the kids. The whole time Ma is quietly vocalizing, reminding him that the kids are hungry.




July 19, 2013

For the first time, Pa drops off a fish and Ma does not come to feed them. The kids are left to feed themselves. After looking befuddled for a moment, one starts to work on the fish. The other soon follows suit. Another step towards independence.



July 21, 2013

The kids are starting to get air when exercising their wings. Their feathers appear to be nearly fully developed.


 Ma is still working on the nest. With the kids getting more rambunctious, she is still building up the perimeter fence. I suppose that the bigger sticks also give the kids a place to practice their perching skills. Pa brings in a huge fish.


July 23, 2013

With the kids watching, Pa brings in a fish.


 The kids are strengthening their wings and getting airborne over the nest.

20130723-IMG_2772                  20130723-IMG_2773


July 24, 2013

The young birds have fledged. Both are off the nest and perched in trees nearby.

One has a very safe perch on top of a fir tree snag. Ma has joined this fledgling and is finishing off a meal while the young bird snoozes.


Ma returns to her usual perch.

The second fledgling has a more adventurous perch and is having difficulty keeping its balance.

It launches and flies around the area.



The fledgling tries to land back where it started, but is a bit clumsy and comes in too hard. The tiny branch breaks off and the bird has to continue the flight.


 The next attempted landing is on a branch next to Ma. It misses the branch entirely and the flight continues.


 After a couple more laps around the area, the fledgling makes an awkward landing on top of a snag.

Pa flies in with a fish. He proceeds to eat the fish. The whole time Ma is doing her low vocalization that she does when Pa brings in a fish. I think it is her way of encouraging him to bring the fish to the nest for the kids. She then flies into the nest, another sign that she wants him to share, even though the kids are not on the nest. He ignores her suggestions that he share and eats the entire fish himself.

When done, he flies into the nest and then both parents take off and fly around. It looked a bit like Ma was not pleased with him.


July 25, 2013

One of the kids buzzes Ma and then lands in the nest.

Both kids return to the nest, followed by Pa with a fish.


July 27, 2013

 Pa watches Ma bring another branch into the nest. Since the kids have fledged and the nest does not need repair, I have to guess that this a a lesson for the kids on nest building.

Ma disappears for about 20 minutes and returns all wet. She has gone for her morning bath.

The kids are getting to be stronger and more skilled fliers. Also becoming better at landing. It is quite amazing how quickly they grow and develop.

Ma and Pa appeared to be giving the kids a lesson on fishing technique. They were both flying around, one carrying a fish while the other hovered and then dove. It was a fascinating display that I have not seen before. This was accompanied by Ma vocalizing with what is usually her intruder alert call. I suppose this was to get the kids attention.



July 28, 2013




July 31, 2013

More nest building lessons.


The proud parents.

A juvenile with a fish.



August  3, 2013


Ma is still hanging around the nest most of the time. She is bringing sticks into the nest, a demonstration of nest building for the kids.

Pa is still the excellent provider, keeping the kids and Ma well fed.


August  5, 2013

Pa brings in a fish, but stops short of the nest. He has a snack while a juvenile on the nest screams at him.

Later, one of the kids emulates Ma and brings a stick into the nest. Practice for nest building, but also for carrying things in its talons.



August  8, 2013

This was the last day that I saw Ma. She has done her duty and Pa is now on his own to finish the job of raising the kids.




August  13, 2013




August  14, 2013

Pa brings a large goldfish into the nest.




August  15, 2013



August  23, 2013






August  29, 2013

A rainy morning. Still the kids are being waited upon by Pa. They are quite vocal and spend a lot of time in the nest. I would expect them to be more independent by now. Presumably there has been fishing lessons, but these two seem lazy and willing to continue to be fed by Pa. At some point, Pa has to leave them to migrate on their own.



August  31, 2013

Changes at the nest. When we arrived, Pa was perched near the nest. He was just resting and stretching. It has been weeks since I have seen him just hanging around. Neither of the kids were visible.


 After some time, one of the kids flew into the nest and vocalized loudly. Pa immediately took off to go fishing. He soon returned with a fish for the begging kid.


We traveled about 3/4 mile away from the nest to an area where we suspect Pa has been fishing {north end of Lake Whatcom}. We were hoping to see the kids getting fishing lessons from Pa. No kids, but Pa flew right over us on his way to a favored fishing spot at the far side of the lake.



September 9, 2013

It is time to close the book on this St. Clair Osprey nesting season. I have visited the nest a few times lately. No one has been home. We did see an Osprey across the lake, fishing the same area where we saw Pa recently. The bird was too far away to identify as Pa or one of the kids, but it was likely one of the St. Clair clan. Next March I will be looking for Pa to return and start the 2014 nesting season.



 Posted by at 9:47 am

  6 Responses to “2013 St. Clair Osprey Nest”

  1. Superb coverage!

  2. What a wonderful photo journal for these birds!

  3. oh my oh my… fabulous pics and great running dialogue Doug; thanks for sharing; twink

  4. Wonderful pictures Doug! Great job!

  5. I enjoyed the specific info along with the narrative. I really learned.


  6. Wonderful job Doug. Thanks for sharing all your work and insight!

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