Mantling: Starving For Love

The Precioussess
A Mantling Osprey: The Precioussess

Osprey romance is all about boys showing girls what good, reliable providers they are. That’s because the males provide almost 100% of the food during the incubation period when they are making their adorable baby monsters. It is a relationship of extreme dependence, so the ladies have to be absolutely certain their man will deliver those fish… and that’s a tall order. Because Osprey love their precious fish.

Mantling is an adorable behavior where an Osprey basically goes all Gollum-like protecting its little fish. Osprey look very much like Gorillas when mantling. They hunch their shoulders up and spread their wings slightly, to shield their fish with their bodies. It is body language that screams “MIIIIINNNNEEE!!!11!!!” They will mantle almost any time intruders approach their fish, but they also do it at the nest with new, and prospective mates.

PLLLEEEAAAAAZZZZ???!!11!!???
PLLLEEEAAAAAZZZZ???!!11!!???

It takes, like, a skabillion calories for an Osprey to catch a fish, so, since he catches them, the male always gets to eat first. He’ll then share the rest with his lady. But in early courtship, it sometimes takes a little bit for the male to get into “sharing mode”. Especially with younger males. It’s tough to guess exactly what is going through their little brains when they do this. Maybe establishing dominance? Maybe just a little manly selfishness? Maybe fear of commitment? Maybe one of those manipulative forms of flirting where you starve your love for affection to put his or her commitment to the test?

Whatever the case, this ridiculous male acted like a clueless teenager (or maybe an Osprey Love Genius) when it came to wooing this catch-of-a-lady. He ate and returned to the nest, mantling like mad each time, no less than four times with this fish, until the female was forced to wail and beg for 15 mins just to get a little taste.

He even, and I'm not making this up, took a nap with fish before letting her eat.
Sleeping With The Fishes: He even, and I’m not making this up, took a nap with the fish before letting her eat.

Observing this is as comical and irritating as watching teenagers in love, not knowing exactly how to cope with their feelings and acting contrary to their own interests, creating all kinds of unnecessary, annoying drama in the process. But soon, if these two are meant to be, this little boy will discover the greatest joy of all: that love is about sharing, and the joy of sharing with your true love is tastier than any fish you could imagine.