Saturday, March 31, 2007

Osprey Back

The osprey have returned for the nesting season. Their high pitched call is most distinctive as the mated pairs scout out the 'home territory' they are reclaiming after a South American winter sojourn. In one case we observed a third osprey following the pair - perhaps last year’s offspring. The yearling is likely to find his or her own way before nesting begins in earnest.

We noted osprey last in mid-September. These eagle-sized birds (sometimes mistaken for bald eagles) fish for a living, and will have no other food. Their high-speed dives are easily the most spectacular activity among the wildlife we observe here. They hunt from stream-side perches and by hovering kestrel-like over the river. A guesstimate for their success ratio is about one out of three dives. Sometimes they grasp a large salmon and need to slowly spiral up to gain enough elevation to fly off to their home.

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