Saturday, May 16, 2009

Camera Critters: Osprey

Warmer weather has once again heralded the return of osprey into this part of the world.
Ospreys are a widely distributed member of the family Accipitridae, which includes hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and old world vultures. They can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. Osprey are a migratory bird. They will leave the parts of their range that have a more temperate climates when the temperatures begin to decrease. The birds that we see here in the summer will typically spend their winters south of the US. Many will head down to South America for the winter. This is the only time that osprey can be found in South America.Osprey typically nest near a fresh water source such as a lake, river or large pond, they can also nest near coastal water. The nest is typically made up of sticks and is built on a tree, utility pole or special osprey platform. The female will lay a clutch of two to four eggs which take about 5 weeks to incubate.
Osprey are sometimes called fishing hawks however they are not truly hawks. Hawks have 4 toes on their feet 3 that face forward and one that faces back. Osprey are like owls and can have 3 toes in front and one in back or can shift one toe and have two in front and two in back.
This ability to shift its toes is an adaptation that Osprey have that help it to catch its favorite prey. Osprey primarily eat fish. They will eat other prey if fish are not available however they are extremely adapted for hunting fish. Besides its toe shifting ability the osprey also has sharp scales called spispicules on their feet to help them hold onto a slippery fish. They also have the ability to close their nostrils to keep water out when they dive.
To catch a fish the osprey will hover high above the water, usually from 30 to 120 feet above the surface, until it spots its prey and then it will dive down into the water, talons first, down to a depth of about 3 feet. It grabs the fish with its specialized talons and then begins the hard work of taking off from the water with the fish. To make it easier to fly the osprey will usually turn the fish head first to help eliminate unnecessary drag. It will then usually take the fish to the nest or a favorite feeding perch to feast.

13 comments:

Chris said...

Hi,
Lots of inof and nice shots on this message. Well done and thanks for sharing!

Bj said...

Wonderful photos and good info. I love watching them feed - when the babies are big & fat and ready to fledge. Thanks for sharing.

Gaelyn said...

Love the opsprey. Was always a sign of spring when I lived in the NW. Didn't know that about their toes, very cool. Great captures.

Anna said...

I loved this. Your photos are wonderful, and I really enjoyed learning about the osprey. What amazing birds!

Sally in WA said...

Great pics. I love watching the osprey fish when we are out on the lakes.

Lara said...

a great post! I admired mostly the birds with their wings spread: what a majestic image!

Vamsee said...

wonderful snaps of the Osprey. Especially like the one that is about to take off.

LivingLifeToTheFullest404 said...

I really enjoy looking at your new pictures all the time... If you ever have room when you're going to shoot I'd love to come along one time.

Also if you have any old camera's you don't use I'm looking for a decent camera and I figured you'd be the man to call before I went and bought a brand new one.

Sherrie said...

Hi!
Awesome shots!! Wonderful info on this magnificent bird! Thanks for sharing! Have a great day!!

Sherrie

Joy said...

Amazing photos. The last one being my favorite. He looks very proud of that wingspan of his!

2sweetnsaxy said...

Wonderful shots and I enjoyed reading the information about the osprey. I learned something new today. :-)

Babooshka said...

Only ever glimpsed these. Wonderful post of a bird that is startting to thrive again in the UK.

Karen said...

Beautiful shots of a regal bird..

As always, lots of good information as well, which is much appreciated !