Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

The Fascinating Story of Osprey

March 26, 2011

We have been watching an Osprey Couple with a 20-power scope near the bank of LaTrappe Creek for 8 years. But until we read naturalist Judy Wink’s comments made at the Chesapeake Environmental Center on Osprey Day we did not fully understand what we were watching. One bird appeared this year on March 13 and sat in their favorite tree overlooking the Creek and the nest. One bird was sitting on the nest on the 17th. Then a total of 5 birds seem to be vying for the nest. Ms. Wink explained that ospreys are monogamous but often go their separate ways when they winter, which for Maryland birds is in Costa Rica. Pennsylvania and New York birds winter in Mexico. Florida birds never leave Florida, which answered another of our questions. Young ospreys have an 80% mortality rate. When the lucky birds reach 3 years they come north often earlier than older birds, which can live to about 18 years. When the older birds return they push the younger bird out of their nest, which answers another of our questions. Have we been watching the same couple over the last 8 years? Probably yes. A few years ago one bird appeared and was alone for about 2 weeks, I saw a dead bird in our field and assumed the worst. Soon another bird showed up. Was this the same couple or one replacement? The female is one third larger than the male another new piece of information.

I captured the magnificent free fall talons first decent of an osprey into our Lake on film. The struggle to rise up after total emersion with a small fish obviously required a great amount of wing strength. Ospreys sometimes die when they hook into a fish that is too large. Once their talons close they cannot open again until they sit on the nest or a tree and fold back their wings. Ms Wink did not say this but I understand it takes 4-6 pounds of fish a day to feed a nest typically of 2 or 3 young birds. Osprey were almost extinct about 30 years ago when their egg shells did not develop because of DDT ingestion. After DDT was banned they came back. We have no idea what agricultural chemicals are doing to our wildlife and to humans. Stay tuned to hear the story of Bob White Quail at TLF&NS.

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