Monday, September 10, 2007

Osprey Bathing

We were surprised to spot an osprey bathing in the Clackamas River just below our house. Taking advantage of the broad shallows, the bird was taking its time. After watching for 5 minutes I attempted to get a photo. The osprey took offence before I was 100 feet away, and flew off.

All our osprey disappeared south during the first week of September, a little earlier than last year. During the Down The River Cleanup on Sept. 9th we observed three osprey upriver from here. So some tarry longer than others.

We had three pair fishing here, up from two last year. One pair always flies upriver to points unknown to me. The others head downriver to nests in cell phone towers. These towers are a major boon to osprey - large snags suitable for nest building are in such short supply that it is the major limiting factor in this population. Big cottonwood or Douglas fir snags are rare nowadays, and snags by definition are short-lived. A mammoth fir snag in Mary S. Young State Park on the Willamette River fell about 10 years ago, and a large cottonwood overhanging the Clackamas 4 or 5 miles upstream from here crashed down 3 years back. So its off to the cell phone towers for the osprey which were using those nest sites. The natural snags may take many decades to replace.

Its possible to build towers for osprey nesting. A telephone pole, some crossbeams, a few planks, at it looks like home to an osprey couple. If even a small handful could be scattered along the river the osprey population would greatly expand.

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