Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Monday, September 25, 2017

Osprey Watch - Drama on the Osprey Nest

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Drama on the Osprey Nest

Jim Gerhart

            Pictured on the left is the female defending her nest and three eggs.  She is fighting off attacks by another female who wants the nest to raise her own brood.  The harassment continued most of the day.  Both male and female ospreys have white feathers on their necks, but the females has a line of brown feathers making it look like it’s wearing a necklace, visible in the photograph, taken by Jet Lawler, Park Interpreter.    

            During March, after vacationing in the Caribbean or South America, the osprey return to the area where they were born to find a mate and build a nest.  Their return coincides with the availability of fish who have become more active with the warming waters of the lake.  The female decides where the site will be located.  Many prefer the man-made structures near or over water where they can glide in without any obstructions.  Smith Mountain Lake State Park has one of the best nesting site on the lake, hence the female may be pestered by other females early in the season.

            “The osprey population is growing and Smith Mountain Lake could use additional nesting sites for the birds,” said Brian Heft, Park Manager.  He said, “This incident shows the value of the camera system on the osprey nest.  The public has an opportunity to share in nature’s drama which they would normally never get to see.”

            The eggs on the nest should be hatching during the second week of May.