While snow still covers the ground in some places, the first signs of spring have already arrived in Ithaca. As temperatures rise, the robins begin to welcome the morning with song: Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up! Brightly-colored buds burst out from red maples, one of the first trees to bloom. Wildflowers are quick to join the party. Look out for delicate, low-lying flowers such as sharp-lobed hepatica, bloodroot, trout lilies, and blue cohosh.
On Cayuga Lake we know that spring has arrived when ospreys return to their nests in late March. The birds nest in the same location with the same mate each year. In the summer, you might spot them on our Osprey Eco-Cruise by looking for their bent wings that form an M-shape when seen from below, or their high dives into the water while fishing.
After returning to their summer home on the lake, the ospreys get right to work building their nest. The male will court his partner by presenting her with fish before he attempts to mate. If all goes well, the female will lay eggs in May that hatch about a month later. She spends most of her time at the nest in late spring and summer while the male frequently leaves in search of food.
Ospreys can catch fish within three feet of the water’s surface. After plunging down from the sky, they may stay underwater for a few seconds before emerging with their catch which they’ll bring back to their family. While nests can be found along the shore at locations such as Salt Point and Stewart Park, some of the ospreys that you see on the lake may come from farther away. Ospreys can travel up to 12 miles from their nest in search of food.
If you are interested in seeing these amazing birds up-close, join us this summer for a fun, family friendly, socially-distant Eco-Cruise. From the MV Teal, you can watch ospreys guarding their nest or making their spectacular dives in search of fish. This is a unique opportunity to catch sight of these truly remarkable birds!