Ospreys return to Grand Lake for mating season

A screenshot from the Grand Lake osprey camera shows a bird interacting with its chicks in 2022.
Kent Roorda/Courtesy photo

In 2016, a male osprey built a nest and attracted a mate in Grand Lake, and resident Kent Roorda set up a camera trained on the nest to livestream the couple. Roorda wrote in an email that the birds of prey mate for life, which is around 25 years, and return to the same nest every year — and his camera shows they have returned for 2023.

The ospreys returned to Grand Lake the week of April 13 and promptly began rebuilding their nest in preparation for their chicks.

The ospreys rebuild their nest in Grand Lake on April 19, 2023, to prepare for mating. This mating pair has been using this nest to care for their eggs and chicks since 2016.
Kent Roorda/Courtesy photo

Roorda’s osprey live stream has over 1,000 fans worldwide who he emails about the current events of the nest throughout the summer. He wrote that ospreys raise a new family — an average of three chicks — each year.

The ospreys do not stay in Grand Lake (or most of the northern hemisphere, for that matter) during the winter. To escape the weather, they migrate south and “enjoy rich fishing grounds,” Roorda wrote.

Every continent, excluding Australia and Antarctica, sees ospreys during their migration cycle. Roorda wrote that those that spend the summer in the Pacific Northwest fly to Central America for the winter, while ospreys in the United Kingdom travel to West Africa.

A screenshot from the Grand Lake osprey camera shows a mating pair and their eggs.
Kent Roorda/Courtesy photo

The ospreys on Roorda’s steam return to Grand Lake around April 15 and leave around September 15. Roorda wrote that ospreys generally arrive at their mating grounds between March and May and their wintering grounds between July and September.

Migration is risky for ospreys, as it expends lots of energy and some birds do not make it to their wintering grounds, but the trip is essential for the birds to avoid freezing temperatures and poor hunting conditions.

The longest osprey migrations, according to Roorda, go between northern and eastern Europe and South Africa. Birds that mate in Sweden have traveled over 4,000 miles to get to Africa, and in the Americas, one osprey went from Massachusetts to French Guiana — a 2,700 mile trip.

Pairs of ospreys depart at different times, so they migrate separately and take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to complete their journey. They usually stop along the way, but when traveling over the ocean, they can fly nonstop for as long as 54 hours.Check in on the Grand Lake ospreys through the link on our homepage,

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