It’s an Airbnb between osprey and owls.
A family of owls moved into a nest that osprey built at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center last year.
It’s the offseason for osprey. They won’t need it again until March or April.
So the great horned owls stepped up, laid their eggs around Christmas and hatched two babies. On Tuesday, the babies made their first appearance on the bird cam the center has watching the nest.
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We have video! Thanks to program manager Erin Parker.
The osprey are still in the neighborhood, and we hope they come back this year.
Mark LaSalle, Audubon Center director
Because it was Valentine’s Day when they made their debut, the center named them Cupid and Valentine.
Visitors can now see them from the deck. Mark LaSalle calls it time-sharing.
They have seen it before in osprey nests built along the Pascagoula River — osprey get active on their nests in the spring and great horned owls and bald eagles lay their eggs around Christmas. While the osprey are away, the other big birds of prey borrow their digs.
In this case, LaSalle believes it was a young pair of osprey who built the nest last year and, though the staff saw the mother sitting on the nest, no chick ever appeared.
“They had a failed nesting opportunity,” LaSalle said. “They put material in it and claimed the platform. We think they laid an egg, but it didn’t hatch. And they just abandoned it.
“The osprey are still in the neighborhood, and we hope they come back this year,” he said. “Birds of prey are pretty loyal to their nest site.”
LaSalle said he expects the owl babies to fledge, or fly away, in three to four weeks.
The osprey won’t start getting interested in the nest again until March or April.
“They won’t be happy if the owls are still there,” LaSalle said. “The baby owls will probably be gone. Hopefully they’ll abandon the nest soon after and the osprey will come back and claim it.”
Audubon Center hours for viewing
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
- 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday