Florida Morning Walks

A Journal of Thoughts

The War between the Osprey and the Bald Eagle

Mother’s Day is every day from the moment a mother knows she has someone depending on her. She will fight the best way she can to protect and feed her kids. This was demonstrated on a recent trip to the edge of Lake Monroe in the City of Sanford. It was a sight to witness and fortunately the camera caught it all.

The rivalry between Raptors is well known whether it is between a Bald Eagle, a Hawk, or an Osprey. The battle going on in front of us was amazing to watch; two Osprey protecting their nest from an intruding Bald Eagle. The Eagle is stronger and bigger with an average 80-inch wingspan and weighing between 6 and 14 pounds. The Osprey has a wingspan averaging between 59 and 70 inches and weighing 3 to 5 pounds. You would think this would be no contest but we are talking about a mother here.

Most of us have a hard time telling the difference between these magnificent Raptors. The Osprey has speed and agility; their beak is black, short and has a sharp hook that helps it tear into fish which is 99 percent of their diet. It will fly close to the water and make a sudden dive about three feet into the water to catch dinner. Because they are smaller they stay buoyant on the water until they have secured the fish. With two toes in front and two in back they get a firm grip. They like to nest in open areas, usually built on treetops, towers or human-built platforms.

The Bald Eagle is stronger and bigger with a yellow beak which is also hooked for tearing into dinner. Their diet consists of fish but also they will eat birds, rabbits, reptiles and amphibians. The Bald Eagle will watch for fish swimming near the surface from the air or nearby perch. When he spots fish he will fly toward the surface of the water and then glide silently and reach down to snatch his catch. Frequently he drops it because he does not get a secured grip with three toes in front and only one in back. The Eagle builds the nest in trees but closer to the trunk and makes them huge, 5 or 6 feet wide and 2 to 4 feet deep.

The Osprey will lay 1-4 eggs once per season; they are cream-colored with reddish brown spots. The incubation period is about 40 days and they usually are ready to leave the nest within 2 months. The Eagle lays 1 to 3 eggs per season which are dull white with no marks. The eggs will hatch a few days earlier but they stay in the nest as long as three months.

Because this is Mother’s Day weekend we traveled back to the shores of Lake Monroe today and found the Mother Osprey feeding her chicks. Unfortunately the heads of three chicks are hard to distinguish from the sticks. We will return this month for another chance for a photograph as they get bigger.

 

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