For those of us who enjoy the comings and goings at our bird feeders, this time of year is so very exciting as we wait for new arrivals who have braved the long, arduous migration north. It is fascinating when one realized the thousands and thousands of miles these small delicate creatures successfully navigate yearly through some fairly extreme conditions to arrive in time to find a mate, build a nest, and raise a family.
Situated along the peaceful River Clyde among the lush countryside of North Central Queens County in Prince Edward Island, The Gardens of Hope is not only a stop off/feeder station for many species of small migratory birds but it also becomes a summer home for many. If you visit, make sure to bring your favorite bird book, hiking boots, binoculars and camera.
This spring, we have made an extra effort to accommodate a pair of osprey, a species known as a tenacious migrator, and have erected a nesting platform by the waters edge. With the assistance Gerald MacDougall, of PEI Fish and Wildlife Division and the Maritime Electric Company, we have chosen an ideal location and installed a modified nesting platform who’s design comes recommended by the International Osprey Foundation. Now we wait for the platform to catch the attention of a new nesting pair.
The osprey is a fascinating and beautiful large species of raptor (bird of prey) that is widely distributed throughout the world. Adult wingspan is 1.5 to 1.7 meters, the osprey’s belly and underwings are light coloured and it’s facial pattern is light with a distinctive bandit mask covering it’s eyes. Females are generally larger than males and show a pronounced “necklace” of darker feathers. Approximately 90% of their diet is fish and they are expert fishers who have the added ability to hover while they hunt.
North American osprey migrate to South America and during their breeding and winter ranges in the north, thrive wherever there are shallow bodies of water with abundant fish. We can expect osprey to return to Maritime nesting sites usually from late March through May. Once the nest site is chosen and the nest completed, 2 to 4 eggs can be expected.
The exciting next stage in our Gardens of Hope Osprey Project will be to install a nest camera (nestcam) on the upper perch/bracket so that we can better appreciate and share the fascinating daily activities within the nest. Being associated with the Center for Conservation Biology and Osprey Watch, we will be participating in a bit of citizen science and contributing to ongoing osprey research. The feed will be a live and viewable online. The Gardens of Hope will work to develop an interpretive program to coincide with the nest and it’s occupants so check back soon or better yet, come visit us at the Gardens of Hope where "We Are For The Birds”.
Special thanks to our partners, Maritime Electric.