Osprey In-flight 2007

Osprey Nest 2007

Nest perched on top of a contraction crack of basalt formed 1.3 million years ago

Yellowstone National Park, Tower Point 2007

These are majestic and swift birds as they soar overhead in search of food for their young.Osprey nest Tower Point Jun 2007 I had to drop down to my 28-300 zoom to follow this one in-flight and got lucky. They are facing a decline in numbers around the park and significantly around Yellowstone Lake. This is a case of the domino effect that we are seeing all too often. Native cutthroat trout are being squeezed out by non-native lake trout, which impacts up the chain to the Osprey. Imagine the early 70s and seeing over 70,000 cutthroats and going back today and counting only 471!!! And to make matters worse, a fire in 2003 on Frank Island, in the middle of the lake, burnt 570 of 600 acres and took with it the old-growth trees that were an excellent habitat for breeding. In 2007, just nine pairs were breeding on the island and produced three young.

Size & Shape
Ospreys are very large, distinctively shaped hawks. Despite their size, their bodies are slender, with long, narrow wings and long legs. Ospreys fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an M-shape when seen from below.

Color Pattern
Ospreys are brown above and white below, and overall they are whiter than most raptors. From below, the wings are mostly white with a prominent dark patch at the wrists. The head is white with a broad brown stripe through the eye. Juveniles have white spots on the back and buffy shading on the breast.

Behavior
Ospreys search for fish by flying on steady wingbeats and bowed wings or circling high in the sky over relatively shallow water. They often hover briefly before diving, feet first, to grab a fish. You can often clearly see an Osprey's catch in its talons as the bird carries it back to a nest or perch.

Habitat
Look for Ospreys around nearly any body of water: saltmarshes, rivers, ponds, reservoirs, estuaries, and even coral reefs. Their conspicuous stick nests are placed in the open on poles, channel markers, and dead trees, often over water.

Cool Facts

  • An Osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15-to-20-year lifetime. Scientists track Ospreys by strapping lightweight satellite transmitters to the birds’ backs. The devices pinpoint an Osprey's location to within a few hundred yards and last for 2-3 years. During 13 days in 2008, one Osprey flew 2,700 miles—from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, to French Guiana, South America.
  • Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds' feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.
  • Ospreys are excellent anglers. Over several studies, Ospreys caught fish on at least 1 in every 4 dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent. The average time they spent hunting before making a catch was about 12 minutes—something to think about next time you throw your line in the water.
  • The Osprey readily builds its nest on manmade structures, such as telephone poles, channel markers, duck blinds, and nest platforms designed especially for it. Such platforms have become an important tool in reestablishing Ospreys in areas where they had disappeared. In some areas nests are placed almost exclusively on artificial structures.
  • Osprey eggs do not hatch all at once. Rather, the first chick emerges up to five days before the last one. The older hatchling dominates its younger siblings, and can monopolize the food brought by the parents. If food is abundant, chicks share meals in relative harmony; in times of scarcity, younger ones may starve to death.
  • The name "Osprey" made its first appearance around 1460, via the Medieval Latin phrase for "bird of prey" (avis prede). Some wordsmiths trace the name even further back, to the Latin for "bone-breaker"—ossifragus.
  • The oldest known Osprey was at least 25 years, 2 months old, and lived in Virginia.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Osprey/lifehistory

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