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The Ospreys’ Spring Return and Ritual

Many people delight in the ospreys’ spring return from their southern wintering grounds in Florida, the Caribbean and Central and South America to spots near water in Northern Virginia.

ospreys1 Charlene Johnson

These chestnut brown and white raptors, Pandion haliaetus, typically come back in mid-March. Experts at catching live fish, they refurbish last year’s nest by adding sticks and other materials.

For many years, a pair has built a nest and raised their young on a wooden platform near the boat ramp at the Belle Haven Marina. On March 26, 2023, FODMer Charlene Johnson captured this pair mating at sunrise in these photographs. 

Adult female ospreys tend to have brownish streaks across their chests and females are typically larger than males.

ospreys2 Charlene Johnson

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