By Mary Reid Barrow with Photos by Terri Gorman
Is Osprey Heights, the long-standing osprey neighborhood in First Landing State Park, going to the dogs?
Osprey Heights is the name I coined for the habitat of treetop osprey nests along the 64th Street Trail in the park.
It is a historic neighborhood, you could say. The “old fashioned homes” are big nests high in tree snags along the marsh on both sides of the road. There are none of those new-fangled modern residences on man-made platforms on the river.
But last year, trouble moved into Osprey Heights. A pair of eagle bullies built a nest on the north side of the road, causing great consternation among Osprey Heights Civic League members.
This past winter, the neighborhood also took it on the chin when storms blew down a number of nests, and even trees, that the ospreys traditionally return to each year.
So, this year, the big birds must be questioning the wisdom of remaining or rebuilding in a neighborhood that is going downhill in such a rapid fashion.
Recently, Terri Gorman, LRNow’s Pearl Home coordinator, and I walked near the area where a traditional big-nest-tree had blown down. We imagined that two ospreys, who called, cried, swooped overhead, and then landed on a snag nearby, were the couple who had been nesting in the downed tree.
“Honey, what about this tree?” the female could have asked her mate. “I like the view.”
“Don’t think so, babe,” he might have said. “It’s too much of a fixer upper.”
“Well, Honey, you know, maybe we should look in another neighborhood anyway. We don’t want the children growing up with those aggressive, dominating eagle bullies!”
“You got a point there,” he might have said. “Let’s go to the civic league meeting tonight and talk about it.”
So, for now, you can still walk along the trail and see ospreys, just back in town, soaring overhead and calling back and forth. In some places, you can see couples settling on their nests.
But then you may also see the neighborhood bully eagle soar overhead, as if gunning a motorcycle, to intimidate the whole of Osprey Heights.
When this happens, the ospreys call and fly with wings fluttering in distress, as if waving their aprons to chase the bully away.
Whether Osprey Heights is doomed to an eagle takeover or not, you can be sure the civic league continues to meet on an emergency basis to discuss the possibility of the neighborhood going to the dogs, or should we say, to the eagles?
LRNow would love to hear your nature news. Whether it’s about unusual plants or critters you see on your walks or find on the beach, or tales of good folks who care for the environment, let MaryReid@LRNow.org know about it.