Osprey Nesting at the Bolsa Chica
By Kim DiPasquale

OspreyOsprey with Striped Sand Bass.
Photo by Kim DiPasquale.
Colloquially known as fish hawks, Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) are found along rivers, lakes, marshes and estuaries where they feed almost exclusively on fresh and saltwater fish. They plunge feet first and use razor sharp talons to snatch prey which they find swimming near the waters surface. Once a fish is caught, osprey utilize their reversible outer toes to stabilize their catch while they transport it head first and belly down to a safe location for consumption. This orientation is more aerodynamic and creates less drag making flight easier.

Osprey are 22-25 inches in length and have a 58-72 inch wingspan. They are dark brown above, and mostly white below with a white head and a prominent dark eye stripe and bright yellow eyes. Females generally have more streaking on the neck. Osprey fly with a distinctive gull-like kink in the wings showing a black “wrist” patch on the anterior portion of the underwing. The call is a series of loud, whistled, “kyew” notes. Bulky nests are built in trees, on poles, and on manmade platforms. The female Osprey will usually lay 1-3 eggs in the Spring.

While Osprey have been utilizing the BCER to catch fish for many years, they have started breeding here only within the last few years. The ability to support top predators such as this is indicative of the Reserve’s health. The Amigos de Bolsa Chica along with Sea and Sage Audubon and Melissa Loebl, our new BCER manager, are currently working on getting permission and funding for an osprey platform and camera system here at Bolsa Chica. Just imagine the excitement and joy of watching the nest building and the hatching, feeding, and caring for young osprey at the reserve and online ! Stay tuned.