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Birding/3 adult ospreys nesting together

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Party of 3
Party of 3  

Building the nest
Building the nest  
Last year 3 osprey showed up on our point spending a lot of time in one of our dead trees. they started building a nest. I have pictures of it from the  very first stick. I was instantly taken in by them. I tried to figure out as much as I could on my own, via the web. then in august they all 3 left.  about a month ago (feb16th) they came back.  They went right back to the nest and it has doubled in size. I have great pics of the female (named her Lucy) and the male (named him Ricky) but I can never seem to get a pic of the 3rd one. I am trying to see if its a male or female and the color of the eyes but no luck. one day I think its a male, then the next day it looks like a female. They are NEVER in the nest all 3 together.  They fly around together in the morning, then end up all 3 together in the tree at night. Is this normal? I thought they usually stayed only in pairs together. Do you think the 3rd bird might be one of their babies?

Thanks in advance for your time.
Sharonkay Ford

Answer
As you observed, Ospreys return to the same nest year after year and keep building on it. There is no reliable way to tell male from female, although the female often has a  speckled "necklace", but some males do as well. The female is slightly larger but that's often hard to tell. Behavior is the best bet. The female spends more time on the nest and the male spends more time hunting. The third bird is, I guess, one of last year's young.

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Roger Lederer

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Any and all about WILD birds - the science of ornithology. Information about birdwatching, ecology, conservation, migration, behavior, banding, rehabilitation, feeding, songs, binoculars, identification, and careers in ornithology. No questions about pet or caged birds, please.

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Have a PhD and over forty years as a professional ornithologist - research, teaching, author, speaker, webmaster of Ornithology.com . Have written thirty scientific papers, three bird field guides, a textbook in ecology four other bird books, the latest being "Beaks, Bones, and Bird Songs". Have traveled to 100 countries watching birds and have spoken to hundreds of groups about birds.

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PhD in Zoology/Ornithology; Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences; former Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at California State University, Chico

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