The birds here at the Wells Fargo complex in West Des Moines are the result of many years of reintroduction and recovery by Osprey in Iowa starting with the first successful nesting since European settlement at Spirit Lake and Iowa City in 2003.
In 2019, only one of the pair of birds showed back up at the nest platform after migration. No nesting occurred that year. In 2020 through 2022, it appeared that the surviving bird had found a new mate! Two birds were seen at the nest, worked hard to spruce the nest up and were even caught mating on camera at least once. However, that did not translate into successful nesting attempts. This is not unusual for a “new” pair, to not quite get their act together. We have hopes that 2023 will bring better luck for this pair of birds!
In a normal year when young are produced, the young follow the parents to South America in migration but will then stay down there for the whole year that follows. This is an evolutionary strategy that benefits the Osprey population. Most mortality occurs during migration. The young will then return to Iowa as two year olds and will roam around Iowa until choosing a mate and nest site when they are four or five years of age.
In 2022, there were 32 Osprey nest attempts that we know about in Iowa. Nineteen of these nests were successful and produced at least 35 young which was an increase from the 2021. Thank you to the staff at Wells Fargo West Des Moines campus for providing the camera that allows viewers to enjoy these unique raptors from incubation to first flight!