There is a group of us birders and photographers that visit the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on a regular basis. We usually meet up at the picnic table that is in direct sight of the Osprey nest high atop the electrical tower. This day I sat alone as the weather was cold with the appearance of rain.
The norm in monitoring the Osprey nest is long periods of time spent watching with nothing happening. Perhaps even hours are spent waiting. But at a sudden moment, a flurry of activity occurs. Sometimes an Osprey brings in a fish, or a branch of nesting material. Or an interloper comes in to try to take over the nest, or to claim the female.
This day was the same; nothing happening. Forty five minutes later the female Osprey in the nest began calling out a distress call. An interloper approached and attempted to land in the nest with her. As she screeched, he hovered just above her head. That is when her mate darted into view. With outstretched legs, he nearly hit the interloper who then took flight. The mate took flight chasing after the interloper far to the east from the nest where I witnessed their aerial dogfight.
From the northwest came two more interloping Ospreys into view toward the tower nest. Despite the nesting Osprey’s distress calls, she took flight to chase off the intruders. Much to my surprise, one of the interlopers was a female Osprey. They fought their aerial dogfight successfully chasing off the interloping Osprey. Five minute later, both victorious mates were back on their nest.
We usually witness one interloper who is typically a male. Our thought is he tries to claim the female as his mate. This day I witnessed two males and one female trying to claim the nest. Five Osprey taking flight is an awesome sight. Their speed is incredible chasing one another where many of my photographs were ruined with trees blocking my view.
Male and female Osprey appear quite similar and are difficult to tell them apart. The major difference is the bib on the chest. It is the female who has a heavy brown bib on her chest. Though a male too can exhibit this bib, his bib is far less substantial then the females.