The North River; Spring 2012
Ospreys return from their winter grounds in late March and begin to rebuild their nests.
They like dead trees, and often build their nests in the very topmost branches. Besides tall trees, the birds like utility poles, billboards, communication towers, channel markers, and bridge infrastructure.
Males generally select the nesting sites, which are typically close to water, open to the sky and safe from predators. Ospreys space their nests about one mile apart. They add sticks and branches to their nest every year they return. The male returns first to checkout the nest and start reconstruction. He then waits to greet the female. When she arrives the male will begin a courtship dance to entice her to the nest. The courtship display of the osprey involves aerial acrobatics with the male making repeated flights over the chosen nesting site, whilst clasping nesting material or a fish.
Nests are large, built of sticks, and lined with bark, grass, algae, and a sundry of shore line treasures; flotsam and jetsam such as plastic bags, pieces of plastic toys, fishing line and more. Ospreys have a strong desire to carry items back to their nest. They are beachcombers.
Looking at an osprey nest, one can tell how the world has changed. Writing in Ospreys: A Natural and Unnatural History, Alan Poole lists the oddities found in osprey nests in the nineteenth century: a rag doll; a small doormat; a toy sailboat complete with sail; a feather duster; barrel staves and hoops; a bootjack; 20 feet of hem rope; a blacking brush; a remnant from an oilskin rain slicker; and bleached-out bones from domestic animals like cattle and sheep. Now, in the twenty first century we find: rubber boots; bicycle tires; Hula Hoops; sections of television antennas; bikini bottom size four; bikini top size eighteen; Styrofoam cups and plastic hamburger containers.
Ozzie was proud. He had accomplished the impossible. There is no need to recapitulate his achievements, as they are well documented in the last post. Harriett joined Ozzie on day five. It was a happy reunion. Harriett’s love for Ozzie was so great it soothed Ozzie’s anxiety, as true love does in unadulterated nature.
The relief and wondrous spirit of Harriett’s love, once again reminded Ozzie of the mysterious creation of which he was part. That night Ozzie gazed into the night sky. He pondered the vast expanse of the heavens, the heavens beyond the heavens and the orderly nature of such an immense universe. He knew not God’s ultimate plan, but he instinctively realized he was part of a transcendent, caring love that was steadfast and enduring. God’s love flowed though Ozzie and Harriett merging their souls into one. Together, in their new nest they were acutely aware of their insignificance and the fleeting time in which they lived. And then, they were awestruck by the realization that the Creator knew them, cared for them, would protect them and ultimately redeem them.
Ozzie felt that all was right on the North River that night.
“I’ve seen the worst and the best you have to offer, and I still love you”, cooed Harriett.
Her commitment was almost scary, but Ozzie felt the same. And he told her so. It was as if their time together was preordained. Perhaps it was.