Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The “Fish Hawk” Makes a Dramatic Comeback

A female Osprey sits in her nest.
High above Windmill Marsh the male osprey soared, alternately circling and hovering as it scanned the water below. Then, in an instant, it plummeted toward the surface of the marsh. The final second of its rapid descent was shielded from our view by towering pines, yet there was no mistaking the loud splash. Moments later the Osprey was airborne once again. Though his talons were empty there would be no returning without food. He continued his search, flying eastward over the marsh.

A quarter mile to the west in Hazard Campbell Marsh, the female of the pair stood guard, her fledglings hidden from sight in the deep confines of a large stick nest.  

It was early May and Claudia and I were hiking the network of trails on Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. This was not our first sighting of this pair of ospreys. Three other outings had yielded similar results, with the female standing guard over the nest while the male perched in a nearby dead tree.  

AKA the “Fish Hawk”, Ospreys attain a wing span of five feet or better and commonly nest along lakes, rivers and coastal areas, the species’ preferred hunting grounds. Like the Bald Eagle, Ospreys have made a dramatic comeback in recent years. Pesticide use in the 50’s and 60’s led to a drastic decline in their numbers but thankfully, they are once again nesting in areas from which they once disappeared. 

Until Next Time,
Jim & Claudia