And Then There Were Three (Osprey)

I made it to the Canyon early today to see the eagles and osprey. I had hoped to see father eagle bring in a fish but he wasn’t around when I arrived at the entrance so I drove on in to look upstream. I didn’t see any osprey or eagles upstream either so I decided to just sit in the sun and watch the nest at the canyon entrance for eagle action. Others were gathered to watch the eagles as well and some were concerned that the male hasn’t been seen. It’s been two weeks since I have seen him so I hope he is OK.

Osprey in the Canyon

Eventually it warmed up enough for me to hang out on my vantage point at the osprey nest where I hoped to see papa osprey fly in with a fish… It wasn’t long before I heard the call of the osprey and there he was, swooping in to check on the female at the nest. After a minute or two he was off…  in hot pursuit of an intruder, a turkey vulture that had ventured too close to the nest. Once the intruder had been warded off I watched our hero fly past the cliffs and into the canyon upstream.

Then much to my surprise I heard the call of the osprey again… only this time it was off to my left, on my side of the river. Sure enough, there was an osprey perched on the dead tree behind me and to my left… calling out to the female. I had no idea how he had circled back so quickly and landed without my even seeing a shadow on the ground. Then all of a sudden I saw another hawk out of the corner of my eye, or what I thought was a hawk circling over the nest. I couldn’t believe that the osprey remained peacefully on his perch as the intruder flew closer and closer. I snapped away at the hawk in flight and got a few pretty good captures of what I assumed was going to be the red-tail against the brilliant blue Colorado sky. As I zoomed in and examined my LCD screen it was revealed that the hawk was actually another osprey.

Osprey in the Canyon

As I watched the show it became apparent that the two osprey knew each other and were friends. Then to my disbelief both osprey were landing on the nest to check on the female as she cared for the eggs beneath her. And she was fine with it too, absolutely no defensive action taken against either of the free flying raptors. This leaves me to wonder if one of them is their offspring from last year, or perhaps the second one is another female not yet of breeding age. Who knows, but I’ve never heard of a family of three adult osprey at one nest.

Eventually the two great birds took off at the same time where I later found them soaring together over Lake George lake. By this time mother eagle was still looking intently off to the north for her mate. Since I had spent quite a bit of time with the osprey I really don’t know if he had ever come back or not… but there was no evidence that there was any food left behind. On the other hand the young eagles didn’t seem to panicked about their next meal, so maybe all is normal after all.

Bald Eaglet and Mother Eagle

The drive home proved to be a bonus as I spotted a small herd of bighorn sheep and then a herd of mule deer grazing in the warm spring sunshine.

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Bighorn Sheep

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