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PBS film offers intimate look at nesting Osprey

Osprey
A female Osprey stands guard over her nestlings in “Nature: Season of the Osprey.” Photo © Jacob Steinberg

A new PBS documentary set to debut on Wednesday, October 27, offers an up-close, intimate view into the nesting lives of Osprey.

Nature: Season of the Osprey is set on a small saltmarsh at the delta of the Connecticut River. The 50-minute film follows the nesting cycle of a breeding pair of the sea hawks, from nest construction and defense against Bald Eagles and other Osprey to mating to chick-rearing and fledging.

This blue-chip Nature special explores the life of this incredible raptor with a depth and intimacy never before attempted. Shot in and around Great Island Marsh, where the Connecticut River meets the Long Island Sound, filmmaker Jacob Steinberg achieved unlimited access to an Osprey nest and offers a rich look at this unique species known for its life-long partnerships, dynamic social interactions, and masterful hunting prowess.

“Osprey are beloved birds, and yet they lacked a definitive wildlife film,” said Steinberg. “The moment I began observing the family that would become the film’s iconic subjects, I knew theirs was a story that would resonate with Nature viewers.”

Narrator Paul Giamatti informs viewers that 150 Osprey return to this 15-square-mile stretch of marsh. Steinberg shows some of them fighting over prime nesting platforms. Those that lose out build nests on the ground in the marsh, which inevitably attract foxes and raccoons. We soon learn why nesting platforms have been essential to the success of the species in the post-DDT era.

Tracking project reveals Osprey migration feat

Steinberg does not simply focus on his main Osprey pair. He shows us a woodchuck, foxes, and gulls, including a Great Black-backed that attempts to steal a fish from an Osprey. Tree Swallows nest in a dead tree, and hundreds if not thousands of Dunlin, sandpipers, plovers, yellowlegs, and Whimbrels fuel up on their northbound migration. We also see the local Blue Jays, egrets and herons, ducks, owls, hawks, raccoons, and deer with fawns. 

But it’s the focal pair of Osprey that steals the show. Steinberg gets closeup shots as they dive for fish and then feed the chicks, zooming in to show that the adults turn their feet to avoid harming the young with their claws. The film offers a jaw-dropping look into the nest of an iconic bird of coastlines and waterways worldwide.

Nature: Season of the Osprey premiers nationwide Wednesday, October 27 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app.

View the trailer

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