Ft. Pickens Campground: Area Provides Homes for Osprey Families


Photo by Mike Smith

Exploring for wildlife at Ft. Pickens Campground on Pensacola Beach did not take us far afield. While the girls slept in, Mike and I crept around bodies and belongings with coffee mugs in hand and settled outside in canvas chairs in the gray pre-dawn light. We had a ringside seat to a show we never tired of. An osprey couple with young ones high upon their perch right outside our door.

Mama osprey stayed with the little ones while Papa went fishing, or searching for nesting materials. One morning, Papa O came home with a beak full of dangling twigs. It must have been his job to do home maintenance, which consisted of dropping his sticks into the already humongous mix. In the meantime, Mama O must have gotten irritated with him for not bringing home the bacon — or fish in this case.

What was he doing — she screeked — by carpentering while the babies were hungry. They needed fish. Fish, do you hear me! Now get out there and do some fishing and don’t let me see you back here again without one!


Photo by Mike Smith

So Papa O winged his way water-ward with a bit of a flea in his ear. He must not have wandered too far from his surging neighborhood market because he was back shortly with the groceries. No stopping at the corner pub to grouse to the boys for him.


Photo by Mike Smith

Ft. Pickens Campground is a ¬†veritable village for osprey due to so many dead trees on which to nest. Way to our right we glimpsed another huge penthouse of sticks with an attendant osprey and a small winged companion. Couldn’t tell who he, or she, was.


Looks like this osprey cousin added a little color to his renovations.

The surroundings at Ft. Pickens Campground are deliciously desolate. If you were transported there by a magical genie or djinn, without being told where you were, you would never know you were on a slender thread of island between a beautiful bay and the Gulf of Mexico, all encased in gorgeous white beaches.


Photo by Linda Smith


Photo by Linda Smith

For Mike and me, our morning coffee with Mr. and Mrs. O were just as entertaining as dining out or going to the beach — probably more. We watched early dog walkers meander by, and once another RV couple next to us unfolded their chairs for a view of this fine feathered family.

Osprey are known by a variety of names. My favorite is sea hawk. They are raptors. All you have to do is look at those eyes and beaks and know they are predators. All the raptor family look like royalty of the skies with their great wingspan and attitude. Proud and bold, they seem to own the air.

Except, of course, when Mr. O comes home wanting to do power tool stuff with his twigs and Mrs. O. wants fish for those squawking brats. Oh, well, families are families whether wild or tame or what the breed.


Ft. Pickens Campground. Our site was A-30. Great for early coffee drinking and sitting and bird watching.


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