Saturday, July 14, 2012

Boy's of Summer

Each April Osprey return to Oregon waterways from their winter-over in Costa Rica.  I love them!

Back in the late 80's when I lived in my little cabin on Hill's Creek reservoir, I would watch them for hours as they screamed, cartwheeled and fell out of the sky during their mating rituals.  They'd show up in the Spring, stay all summer raising their young in large nests atop old snags, power poles and the like, then in September they'd head south for another Winter.

I came to call them "the Boy's of Summer" even though both males and females give me and my clients some of the most amazing Ariel acrobatic shows everyday we're on local waters. 

Our Bald Eagles will patiently wait, perched on riverside Cottonwoods or Douglas Fir trees and watch for the Osprey to catch a fish.  Then the Eagles swoop down and fierce aerial combat ensues as the Eagle tries to steal the Osprey's fish.  The Osprey's blistering speed and agility sometimes allow it to escape the Eagles pursuit with its catch of smallmouth bass or trout.  Most of the time, the Osprey is forced to abandon their fish in trade for speed and maneuverability and the Eagle wins the prize of fresh fish.

Osprey have evolved into an apex predator and have such specific adaptations, that it makes it difficult for them to recover in raptor aviaries where injured hawks, owls, eagles and falcons can be rehabilitated.  They have large, sharp scales on the bottom of their feet to better grip their prey.  Their feet are also permanently curved, making it impossible for them to stand or perch on anything other than a tree branch.  Being finicky eaters, they will ONLY eat fish they catch, no hand feeding of a dead fish like other raptors.
Osprey, just one more reason for me to love being on the water everyday!