Osprey at Cottage Grove Lake

I still get a thrill seeing Osprey and Bald Eagles. Hearing their piercing calls high in the sky makes me stop, look up, and search them out. I think I find it thrilling to see them because I don’t recall seeing them at all as I was growing up in Oregon in the 1970s and 80s. This isn’t surprising since Osprey populations declined significantly throughout the country in the 1970s because of pesticide use, especially DDT. In 1976 there were only 13 nesting pairs along the Willamette River between Eugene and Portland. Happily, the number of nesting pairs increased to 234 in 2001 . I haven’t found more recent numbers, but it feels like I am seeing more and more osprey each year, so I can only guess that it has continued to increase.

Earlier this week, I heard about a nesting pair of Osprey (which mate for life) here in Cottage Grove. Today, between bouts of heavy spring rain, we searched out the nest. It is easy to find along Cottage Grove Lake near Wilson Creek Park (exact directions below).


An Osprey takes flight from a perch beside its nest.

It wasn’t until I came home and started reading about Osprey that I realized that this may be the first time I’ve seen an osprey nest in a tree. Before, I think I’ve always seen nests on platforms or power poles which would explain why I found this nest a bit more ball-shaped than I was expecting. I’m looking forward to checking in on them as the summer progresses, I’d love to stop by and see baby birds calling for lunch, or young osprey learning to leave the nest.

If you head out to Wilson Creek Park to see the osprey, be sure to take a walk through the wooded areas with your eyes looking down instead of up. Today we found many different kinds of wildflowers, including Calypso Orchids, Fawn Lilies, and Wood Violets, among others.


Calypso Flower (also known as a Fairy Slipper).

Fawn Lilies.

Fawn Lilies.


Native Violets.

Directions: Head out London Road and turn left onto CG Reservoir Road. Right after you pass Wilson Creek Road on the left (just over 3 miles from the turn), the EXIT to the Wilson Creek Park will be on your right. Currently, the gate is closed, so you can pull in and park here. Just to the south of the gate is a small clearing in the trees, walk out there, look back to the north and you’ll see the nest high up in a snag, just above the tops of the evergreens.

Checker Lilies
Postcard from the Row River Trail


  1. Great photos– you go, girl!

  2. Janet Best says:

    I too love the shots. Spring seems to be way ahead in Oregon. I can’t wait to visit this July.

    • Hi Janet — I’ve heard that the wild flowers are a couple weeks early this year, although I notice that our night time temperatures are starting to cool down again.

  3. Re” Local violets photo: The “Dogtooth violets” are also commonly called “Johnny-Jump Up’s”, not to be confused with Burpee Heirloom seeds for “Viola’s” (aka/Johnny-Jump Up’s). Not only have observed wild flowers are 2 weeks early in Southern Oregon, but some are 3-4 weeks early. But the amazing thing is the numbers, oh my! One of the Glide Wild Flower Show members reports where there were 3 trilliums, a meadow full has appeared. I also have observed wild iris aka/flag appearing in numbers as much as 10 times the bloom number of recent years. Isn’t Oregon the best place on earth? WOW!

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