Opsrey Frequently Asked Questions




Ospreys are large birds - with a wingspan of 5-6 feet - that resemble bald eagles. The birds live along rivers, lakes and other large bodies of water where they can feed on fish. The open water and large tracts of undeveloped shoreline at the Yadkin Project provide the perfect setting for wildlife such as bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons and great egrets.


Other Facts:

  • Body Size: 21 to 23 inches in length
  • Weight: 3.1 to 4.4 lbs
  • Average life span in the wild is 30 years


Q:  When can we expect to see the ospreys nesting?

A:  Ospreys typically start to work on their nests in March, with full occupation by April.  Eggs are usually laid within three to four weeks, and take 38-42 days to hatch. They lay eggs (typically three), which both parents help to incubate. Osprey eggs don't hatch all at once, but are staggered in time so that some siblings are older and more dominant. When food is scarce these stronger birds may take it all and leave their siblings to starve.


Q:  How long before the chicks leave the nest? 

A:   Osprey chicks grow up fast. They begin to fly about seven weeks after hatching. Their feathers will come in during June and July, and by late July they’ll be flapping their wings in preparation for flight. Once they can fly, they’ll learn to fish. By mid-August, they’ll usually have started to migrate south.


Q:  How do Ospreys hunt?

A:  Ospreys hunt by diving to the water's surface from 30 to 100 feet up. They have gripping pads on their feet to help them pluck fish from the water with their curved claws and carry them back to the nest.


Q:  Where is this nest located?  How big is it?

A:  The nest is high above the Yadkin river on top of the 1917 Narrows dam, in North Carolina. The nest box is around 42” square.


Q:  How did the birds get their names?

A:  The names were chosen by Alcoa employees. The name Oliveea was chosen because it is a symbol of fruitfulness, beauty and dignity.

Q:  How can you tell the birds apart?

A:  Oliveea is larger and has more brown on her chest.  Oscar is smaller and his chest is all white.


Q:  Are there any bald eagles at the Yadkin Project?

A:  In 2001, Alcoa began conducting annual bald eagle nesting surveys to document the use of the Yadkin Project by bald eagles. Since 2001, a total of 19 bald eagle nests have been documented at the Yadkin Project reservoirs and a total of 49 chicks have been produced by these nesting eagles.



Osprey nesting spot


Height of the nest


Another view of the nest


Upstream view from the nest


Downstream view from the nest


Oliveea (top) and Oscar (bottom)


Closeup of Oliveea's feet