Osprey breed on Chocowinity Bay during the season. They prefer to build their nests on trees rooted in the water, bald cypress trees mostly, to keep raccoons from robbing their eggs. Sometimes they build their nests on channel markers. Sometimes they build too close to the water.
A breeding pair of osprey used this nest year after year, hatching and fledging their chicks until Hurrican Florence swept the bay with six-foot waves. Only a few cypress stumps remain.
Most osprey nests are built high in the forks of cypress snags, ideally one rooted in the water to avoid snakes and raccoons from raiding the nest. A moat is an adequate defense from terrestrial enemies but the water itself can become an enemy.
This nest was built less than six feet above Chocowinity Bay’s normal level. From its size, the nest had been occupied for successive years. Then the storm came, driving the water before it.
After Hurricane Florence, nothing remained but the bitter end of some roots.
The osprey that inhabited the nest had already migrated south for the winter. If they return, they’ll have to begin again…or steal another bird’s nest.