In the late winter of 2018 BC Hydro generously donated and installed a bird of prey Tower adjacent to the newly constructed wetland at Idlewild. Within just a few days a breeding pair of Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) commonly called a Fish Hawk took over the tower and began building their nest.
Osprey are unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. As is the case with most raptors, the female is larger than the male. She weighs on average 1.6 kg, compared with 1.4 kg for the male, and has an average wingspan of 163 cm, compared with 159 cm for the male. The adult Osprey measures anywhere from 53 to 65 cm long. The Kootenays enjoys one of the largest breeding populations of the species in the world.
Our Osprey migrate in spring from wintering sites in Latin America and the northern part of South America. However, migratory behaviour depends on age. The one-year-olds remain on the wintering grounds all summer. Of the two-year-old birds, 30 to 50 percent return in spring to the area where they were hatched, although they do not nest. Ospreys three years and older, which have reached sexual maturity, return to their hatching sites every spring to breed.
Osprey build large stick nests and add to them each year. The young hatch in June in this part of their world and fledge at 40-55 days old. They remain in their nest’s area till very late August to learn to fish and gain experience for their long migration south.
The breeding pair produced three chicks, although one appeared to disappear not long after hatching. The pair did not return in 2019 and the nest remained empty. We are happy to see a return of Osprey in the nest the spring of 2020 and hope to see chicks hatch once again.
Thanks to Bill Dove for helping us monitor the Osprey at Idlewild and for assisting with the information.
Thanks to Gary Bilmark for the pictures.