Ospreys can live for fifteen to twenty years and will repeat this cycle of flying north to nesting grounds and back to the south for the winter throughout their lives.
The young ospreys will reach sexual maturity at about three years of age and will then begin building their own nests (likely in the same area where they were raised).
Josie and Elbert have already returned for a new season.
Elbert, the male, is smaller with a plain white breast.
He continues to perform this dance occasionally after the female arrives. Courtship primarily consists of the pair spending time on the nest together, mate-feeding (the male brings the female all her food), and copulation.
“Bringing food to the nest is one of the main ways a male solidifies his bond with his mate,” explains Matt Pelikan, a restoration ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts and avid birder, “so it’s in his best interest to bring food regularly.” Josie laid her first egg this year on about March 21. The chicks will remain on the nest for at least a couple of weeks (often longer) after their parents have left – honing their flying and fishing skills.
Ospreys were once endangered in the US because pesticides like DDT thinned their eggshells to the point that the eggs broke under the weight of an incubating adult.
Thanks to the EPA’s ban on DDT and conservationists’ efforts to build artificial nesting habitat, ospreys have been a huge conservation success story.
Their numbers have rebounded enough that they are not considered a species of concern.