Tuesday, May 20, 2014 7:32 am
By Denise Membreno
The osprey nest at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park has come alive with activity. Three eggs hatched earlier this month, and park rangers are waiting for a fourth, which could come any day, according to David Goode, interpreter at the park.
The first chick hatched May 10, followed by a second on May 11. The third broke through its shell on May 13.
“The chicks will spend two months in the nest until they start fledging,” Goode said. “They’ll get their feathers and start practicing flying and come back to the nest. This fledging will last several months.”
When the young birds migrate with their parents in the fall, they are expected to head south to Central America, South America or the Caribbean. They are not expected to make it back to Smith Mountain Lake for two years.
Ospreys are protected birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They, along with other species of birds, were threatened by the pesticide DDT in the 1960s and ’70s. Since the banning of DDT, the osprey population has rebounded.
Goode said the osprey nest has been there since about 2006. Ospreys like to build their nests in the open on poles, channel markers,and dead trees, often over water. Since the program at the lake started, more nests have been cropping up around the lake because ospreys tend to return to the place of their birth when they are old enough to nest.
Ospreys live on a diet of live fish and are amazing hunters who dive to catch their prey.
You can watch the ospreys via webcam on the Friends of Smith Mountain Lake website. A live feed is also available at the Discovery Center at the state park.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park, 1235 Road 888, Huddleston. 297- 6066.
Reprinted from the Laker Weekly