OSPREY, The Migratory Piscivore

OSPREY, the Migratory Piscivore

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

Migrating birds remind me of what God said in Genesis 8:22, about the predictability of annual seasons. It’s really amazing if you think much about it: God selected Moses to report a conversation that God once had with Noah, at the conclusion of the worldwide Flood. In that conversation God promised Noah (and Noah’s family and descendants, which include all of us) that God would not send another global deluge.

OSPREY MIGRATION (The Cornell Lab map, Laura Erickson photo credit)

Rather, day-night periods would continue with constant periodicity, plus weather patterns would be stabilized with predictable patterns, such as the cyclical seasons we know as summer, autumn, winter, and springtime. God’s creatures depend on day-night cycles, as well as on annual cycles–such as the 4 seasons which provide predictability to growing and harvesting food crops (Genesis 8:22, quoted above).

But not only do humans depend upon such phenology patterns, so do animals–especially migratory animals, such as many insects and birds. One such migratory bird is the OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus), also known as the Fish Hawk.

OSPREY (Free Photos and Images photo credit)

Although not all ospreys migrate, most do, according to Donald & Lillian Stokes, A GUIDE TO BIRD BEHAVIOR, volume III (Boston: Little Brown & Company,1989 ), pages 169-170. In fact, most ospreys of North America–such as those of the Chesapeake Bay region–are known for over-wintering in or near South America, regularly returning to North American ranges during spring:

The warmer temperatures have brought with them a familiar Chesapeake icon. Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) occur in nearly every corner of the globe, but nowhere as abundantly as on the Chesapeake Bay.

Ospreys return to the Chesapeake every spring from southern wintering grounds. Their abundance in the Bay region is due to the availability of food: They feed exclusively on live fish.

Their curved, sharp talons and rough-soled feet are designed to hold on to slippery fish.

Large brown and white birds of prey, they’re about 2 feet long with wing spans of 4-5 feet. When in flight, their long, narrow wings take on the shape of an outstretched M.

Ospreys hunt by soaring over water, periodically hovering on beating wings to scan the surface for schooling or spawning fish. Upon sight of its prey, the osprey makes a spectacular dive. Folding its wings tightly, it descends swiftly and plunges feet first into the water, often submerging itself completely. Another technique is a shallow scoop for fish at the water’s surface.

In addition to food, the Chesapeake provides many favorable nesting areas over the water such as duck blinds, navigation markers or man-made nesting platforms. Offshore structures offer protection from predators like raccoons, and rapid detection and escape from danger. On land, ospreys may nest on high trees and utility poles.

Ospreys 3 years or older usually mate for life, and will use the same nest site year after year A recently reunited pair will begin the task of nest building or repair.

Kathy Reshetiloff, “Chesapeake’s Ospreys Mark Return of Spring”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL (June 19th, A.D.2020).
OSPREY (PublicDomainPictures.net photo credit)

Thanks for that report, Kathy Reshetiloff–that report that repeatedly fits the return of spring. This year (A.D.2022) is no exception, according to a short report in the CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL:

Standing watch over a channel marker, soaring above the water, effortlessly snatching a fish — ospreys are among the most recognizable bird species in the Chesapeake Bay region. And they have begun their annual springtime return from South America.

Staff writer, “A Sign of Spring: The Return of the Chesapeake’s Ospreys”, CHESAPEAKE BAY JOURNAL, 32(2):3 (April 2022).

The Osprey is a daytime-hunting raptor, like others hawks and eagles, seizing its prey after a successful chase. And for the Osprey, that hapless prey is most likely fish of some kind–more than 99% of the Osprey’s diet is some kind of fish!

OSPREY (PublicDomainPictures.net photo credit)

However, according to the University of Michigan’s Museum of Zoology website “Animal Diversity Web” [ AnimalDiversity.org entry for Pandion haliaetus ], an extra-hungry Osprey might catch and consume rodents (mice, rats, voles, squirrels), lagomorphs (rabbits, hares, pikas), small birds, salamanders, snakes, juvenile alligator, or even carrion (e.g., dead opossum, deer carcass). But those are rare dietary choices for an Osprey, because they have earned their common nickname, “Fish Hawk”.

Ospreys are not bashful about seizing fish prey, whether those prey are near the water’s surface or whether such prey is well below the water’s surface.

[The Osprey] is the only raptor that plunges into water feet first to catch fish. Can hover for a few seconds before diving. Carries fish in a head-first position for better aerodynamics [for post-catch flying]. Often harassed by Bald Eagles for its catch.

Stan Tekiela, BIRDS OF TEXAS FIELD GUIDE (Adventures Publications, 2004), page 79.

Hmm. that last “kleptoparasitism” fact–about eagles robbing ospreys of caught fish–where did I read about that recently? Oh yeah, I saw something about that on the best birdwatching blog in the world, LEESBIRD.COMhttps://leesbird.com/2022/05/17/a-fisherman-robbed-chapter-20/ .

Kleptoparasitic Eagle chasing Osprey with fish (CenteroftheWest.org photo credit)

It pays to be a regular reader of LEESBIRD.COM ! — thanks, Mrs. Lee Dusing, for the ongoing blessing your birding blog has been, for years, is now, and continues (God willing) to be. (And thanks also for your sterling service as an Adjunct Professor to ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics, over the past few years.) But mostly, thanks for honoring the Lord Jesus Christ, (our Creator-Redeemer) and for continually blessing birdwatchers, like me, with the wonderful service that LEESBIRD.COM provides. : )

OSPREY featured on heraldic Coat-of-arms of Sääksmäki, Western Finland (public domain)

A Fisherman Robbed – Chapter 20

King Eagle Plunger the Osprey - Burgess Bird Book ©©

King Eagle Plunger the Osprey – Burgess Bird Book ©©

A Fisherman Robbed

The Osprey and the Bald-headed Eagle.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

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Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 20. A Fisherman Robbed.

Just out of curiosity, and because he possesses what is called the
wandering foot, which means that he delights to roam about, Peter Rabbit
had run over to the bank of the Big River. There were plenty of bushes,
clumps of tall grass, weeds and tangles of vines along the bank of the
Big River, so that Peter felt quite safe there. He liked to sit gazing
out over the water and wonder where it all came from and where it was
going and what, kept it moving.

He was doing this very thing on this particular morning when he happened
to glance up in the blue, blue sky. There he saw a broad-winged bird
sailing in wide, graceful circles. Instantly Peter crouched a little
lower in his hiding-place, for he knew this for a member of the Hawk
family and Peter has learned by experience that the only way to keep
perfectly safe when one of these hook-clawed, hook-billed birds is about
is to keep out of sight.

So now he crouched very close to the ground and kept his eyes fixed on
the big bird sailing so gracefully high up in the blue, blue sky over
the Big River. Suddenly the stranger paused in his flight and for a
moment appeared to remain in one place, his great wings heating rapidly
to hold him there. Then those wings were closed and with a rush he shot
down straight for the water, disappearing with a great splash. Instantly
Peter sat up to his full height that he might see better.

“It’s Plunger the Osprey fishing, and I’ve nothing to fear from him,” he
cried happily.

Out of the water, his great wings flapping, rose Plunger. Peter looked
eagerly to see if he had caught a fish, but there was nothing in
Plunger’s great, curved claws. Either that fish had been too deep or
had seen Plunger and darted away just in the nick of time. Peter had a
splendid view of Plunger. He was just a little bigger than Redtail the
Hawk. Above he was dark brown, his head and neck marked with white. His
tail was grayish, crossed by several narrow dark bands and tipped with
white. His under parts were white with some light brown spots on his
breast. Peter could see clearly the great, curved claws which are
Plunger’s fishhooks.

Eastern Osprey trying to catch fish by Ian

Up, up, up he rose, going round and round in a spiral. When he was well
up in the blue, blue sky, he began to sail again in wide circles as when
Peter had first seen him. It wasn’t long before he again paused and
then shot down towards the water. This time he abruptly spread his great
wings just before reaching the water so that he no more than wet his
feet. Once more a fish had escaped him. But Plunger seemed not in the
least discouraged. He is a true fisherman and every true fisherman
possesses patience. Up again he spiraled until he was so high that Peter
wondered how he could possibly see a fish so far below. You see, Peter
didn’t know that it is easier to see down into the water from high above
it than from close to it. Then, too, there are no more wonderful eyes
than those possessed by the members of the Hawk family. And Plunger the
Osprey is a Hawk, usually called Fish Hawk.

Osprey Catching Fish by Ian

A third time Plunger shot down and this time, as in his first attempt,
he struck the water with a great splash and disappeared. In an instant
he reappeared, shaking the water from him in a silver spray and flapping
heavily. This time Fetes could gee a great shining fish in his claws.
It was heavy, as Peter could tell by the way in which Plunger flew. He
headed towards a tall tree on the other bank of the Big River, there to
enjoy his breakfast. He was not more than halfway there when Peter was
startled by a harsh scream.

He looked up to see a great bird, with wonderful broad wings, swinging
in short circles about Plunger. His body and wings were dark brown, and
his head was snowy white, as was his tail. His great hooked beak was
yellow and his legs were yellow. Peter knew in an instant who it was.
There could be no mistake. It was King Eagle, commonly known as Bald
Head, though his head isn’t bald at all.

Peter’s eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head, for it was
quite plain to him that King Eagle was after Plunger, and Peter didn’t
understand this at all. You see, he didn’t understand what King Eagle
was screaming. But Plunger did. King Eagle was screaming, “Drop that
fish! Drop that fish!”

Plunger didn’t intend to drop that fish if he could help himself. It was
his fish. Hadn’t he caught it himself? He didn’t intend to give it up to
any robber of the air, even though that robber was King Eagle himself,
unless he was actually forced to. So Plunger began to dodge and twist
and turn in the air, all the time mounting higher and higher, and all
the time screaming harshly, “Robber! Thief! I won’t drop this fish! It’s
mine! It’s mine!”

Now the fish was heavy, so of course Plunger couldn’t fly as easily and
swiftly as if he were carrying nothing. Up, up he went, but all the time
King Eagle went up with him, circling round him, screaming harshly, and
threatening to strike him with those great cruel, curved claws. Peter
watched them, so excited that he fairly danced. “O, I do hope Plunger
will get away from that big robber,” cried Peter. “He may be king of the
air, but he is a robber just the same.”

Plunger and King Eagle were now high in the air above the Big River.
Suddenly King Eagle swung above Plunger and for an instant seemed to
hold himself still there, just as Plunger had done before he had shot
down into the water after that fish. There was a still harsher note in
King Eagle’s scream. If Peter had been near enough he would have seen
a look of anger and determination in King Eagle’s fierce, yellow eyes.
Plunger saw it and knew what it meant. He knew that King Eagle would
stand for no more fooling. With a cry of bitter disappointment and anger
he let go of the big fish.

Bald Eagle – San Diego Zoo

Down, down, dropped the fish, shining in the sun like a bar of silver.
King Eagle’s wings half closed and he shot down like a thunderbolt. Just
before the fish reached the water King Eagle struck it with his great
claws, checked himself by spreading his broad wings and tail, and then
in triumph flew over to the very tree towards which Plunger had started
when he had caught the fish. There he leisurely made his breakfast,
apparently enjoying it as much as if he had come by it honestly.

As for poor Plunger, he shook himself, screamed angrily once or twice,
then appeared to think that it was wisest to make the best of a bad
matter and that there were more fish where that one had come from, for
he once more began to sail in circles over the Big River, searching
for a fish near the surface. Peter watched him until he saw him catch
another fish and fly away with it in triumph. King Eagle watched him,
too, but having had a good breakfast he was quite willing to let Plunger
enjoy his catch in peace.

Late that afternoon Peter visited the Old Orchard, for he just had to
tell Jenny Wren all about what he had seen that morning.

“King Eagle is king simply because he is so big and fierce and strong,”
sputtered Jenny. “He isn’t kingly in his habits, not the least bit. He
never hesitates to rob those smaller than himself, just as you saw him
rob Plunger. He is very fond of fish, and once in a while he catches one
for himself when Plunger isn’t around to be robbed, but he isn’t a very
good fisherman, and he isn’t the least bit fussy about his fish. Plunger
eats only fresh fish which he catches himself, but King Eagle will eat
dead fish which he finds on the shore. He doesn’t seem to care how long
they have been dead either.”

“Doesn’t he eat anything but fish?” asked Peter innocently.

“Well,” retorted Jenny Wren, her eyes twinkling, “I wouldn’t advise you
to run across the Green Meadows in sight of King Eagle. I am told he is
very fond of Rabbit. In fact he is very fond of fresh meat of any kind.
He even catches the babies of Lightfoot the Deer when he gets a chance.
He is so swift of wing that even the members of the Duck family fear
him, for he is especially fond of fat Duck. Even Honker the Goose is not
safe from him. King he may he, but he rules only through fear. He is
a white-headed old robber. The best thing I can say of him is that he
takes a mate for life and is loyal and true to her as long as she lives,
and that is a great many years. By the way, Peter, did you know that
she is bigger than he is, and that the young during the first year after
leaving their nest, are bigger than their parents and do not have white
heads? By the time they get white heads they are the same size as their
parents.”

“That’s odd and its hard to believe,” said Peter.

“It is odd, but it is true just the same, whether you believe it or
not,” retorted Jenny Wren, and whisked out of sight into her home.

***

  • What kind of bird is Plunger?
  • Who was watching Plunger trying to catch a fish?
  • How many tries did it take to catch a fish?
  • Do you give up after the first try, or do you keep trying to accomplish (finish) a goal?
  • What happened to the fish?
  • Did both birds have a meal?
  • Is it right to steal?

“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Leviticus 19:11 NKJV)

Links:

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Links:

 

  Next Chapter (A Fishing Party. Coming Soon)

 

 

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

 

 

  Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

 

 

ABC's of the Gospel

  

  ABC’s of the Gospel

Bible Birds – Osprey Introduction

and the osprey

Bible Birds – Osprey Introduction

“But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey,” (Deuteronomy 14:12 KJV)

The Osprey is another bird on the “Do Not Eat” list. Here in central Florida, we see Ospreys quite frequently. Their nest are usually noticeable on platforms placed for them. On a road between Eagle Lake and Bartow, (which I have renamed “Osprey Road”) there is a nest in the V structure of almost every power distribution pole. There are at least 15-20 nests in about a mile or so. The Ospreys will show up after the first of the year and stay for about 4 months while they breed and raise their young.

Osprey Family by Phillip Simmons

The Osprey is in a family by itself. They are widely distributed around the world. They are closely related to the Hawk and the Falcon. They are 21-24 inches long with a wingspan of 54-72 inches. The females are slightly larger and both look alike. Their diet is almost entirely fish, but they do eat small rodents and birds. When fishing, they fly 30 to 100 feet above the water and will hover when they find a fish. They will plunge into the water with their feet under them to catch the fish. “Rises from water with fish gripped in both feet, pauses in midair to shake water from plumage, and to arrange fish with the head pointed forward, which reduces its resistance to air, flies with it to” perch or nest to feed young. Can carry up to four or more pounds.

God has designed the Osprey with several interesting features. Their feet have four equal length toes with “long, strong claws, curved about one-third of a circle, and completely round.” “The lower surface, or pads, of the toes are covered with spicules, which help it hold slippery fishes; also, it is the only hawk that has outer toe reversible as in owls; this enables it to grasp its prey with two toes in front, tow in back. Its plumage is compact, which helps blunt its impact and reduces wetting when it plunges into the water.”

All quotes from (The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds).

More Bible Birds

Bible Birds – Osprey

Birds of the Bible – Ospreys

(Originally posted in 2018 on Birds of the Bible For Kids Blog)

The Eagle has Landed, in Fact Many of Them!

The Eagle has Landed, in Fact Many of Them!

Eagles have Repopulated the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Range

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:5)

BaldEagle-SanDiegoZoo

Bald Eagle – San Diego Zoo

God satisfies our real needs, from time to time, from season to season, just as He sustains the ongoing needs of the eagle. Recovering strength is good for an individual–and also for a population, including eagle populations.

Recovering from a “ghost town” shutdown is worth the effort.  Ask a Bald Eagle.

Whitney Pipkin recently reported, in the Chesapeake Bay Journal , that Bald Eagles have made a comeback along Virginia’s James River.(1),(2)

This avian population illustrates how a pessimistic situation can, if the right actions are taken, be reversed—eventually producing a happier result.

First, the bad news:

In the late 1970s, the treetops of the James River looked like a ghost town. Despite plenty of suitable habitat where bald eagles could have been nesting and had before, the waterway was the only major tributary in the Chesapeake Bay whose nesting population of the iconic American predator had plummeted to zero.(1)

Now, the good news:

Imagine biologists’ surprise when, four decades later, that same river became the staging ground for the eagles’ astonishing comeback. Aerial surveys tallied more than 300 breeding pairs of [bald] eagles along the James River for the first time in 2019—a number that had been the species’ recovery goal for the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.(1)

When it comes to the Chesapeake Bay, the majestic bald eagle has come back from the dead. Driven from historic nesting strongholds like the James River by pesticides in the 1970s, the national bird has become a success story.(2)

BaldEagles-BirdWatchingHQ

3 Bald Eagles – Bird Watching HQ

Furthermore, the big-picture news is even better:

Biologists estimate there are now close to 3,000 nesting pairs Baywide [i.e., in the Chesapeake Bay watershed], but surveys of the entire region no longer occur annually. Maryland stopped surveying bald eagles in 2004 when they hit nearly 400 breeding pairs statewide, surpassing population goals.(1)

Moreover, it’s not just eagles that are flourishing in the Chesapeake Bay area:

“We are just in an amazing time right now,” said Bryan Watts, co-founder and director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary. … Not just bald eagles, but fish-eaters like osprey and blue heron also once died out on the James.

Today, [these riparian fish-eating birds—like eagles, ospreys, and herons—have ] swelled to numbers Watts believes are well above what even Capt. John Smith encountered on the cusp of the 17th century. “In terms of eagles,” said Watts, “we are protecting them. We’re not shooting them like we did in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We don’t consider them competitors for muskrats or for fish, and so we’re not killing them.”(2)

For conservationists, birdwatchers, and other wildlife enthusiasts, these large-scale recoveries are very good news. After all, eagles are America’s official bird.

Beyond that, eagles are amazing creatures that display God’s genius in bioengineering.(3)

One example of highness being compared to the nesting habits of eagles is found in the Bible, in the Book of Obadiah 1:3-4, where the eagle is described as a creature that lives in high places, much closer to the stars than do most other animals (or people). Another Old Testament book in the Bible, the Book of Job, refers (at 39:13) to the eagle as mounting up into the air by God’s command (because God programs eagles to fly up into the air the way that they do), and as nesting in high places (because God programs eagles to do this also).

Eagles are good parents, training their sons and daughters to live like eagles (see Deuteronomy 32:11). Eagles can fly, like dive-bombing airplanes, at great speeds (see 2nd Samuel 1:23 and Lamentations 4:19). Their strength is renewed from time to time, as their feather-cover adjusts to their growing bodies (see Isaiah 40:31 and Psalms 103:5). Eagles are known for their gracefulness and dignity (see Proverbs 30:19). In fact, eagles fly very high in the air as a matter of habit – above most other birds (see Proverbs 23:5).(4)

Meanwhile, the Bald Eagles’ recovery—in the Chesapeake Bay area–illustrates how a bad situation can be overcome, with the prioritized concern and problem-solving management practices, plus patience.

But this is not the first time that an endangered or threatened wild bird (or other wildlife category) has been rescued from the brink of population failure. Consider the amazing recovery of the Trumpeter Swan, which nearly sang its own swan song.(5)

Likewise, Tri-colored Herons (also called “Louisiana Herons”) have recently reclaimed (and repopulated) ranges that previously they had lost.(6)

It’s not just the birds. American bison have made a comeback.(7) The list goes on, but the list could be longer than what it is.

Wildlife populations often face critical perils, sometimes facing population failure, range contraction, or habitat loss. Sometimes they recover.(1),(2),(5),(6)

The same is true for humans. For example, it is well worth praying for America to recover from its many political (socialism-pushing) problems in the wake of pandemic perils and propaganda.(8)

Problematic situations, including disasters, don’t fix themselves—real solutions (to real problems) don’t accidentally “evolve”. There is much good work needed, to recover lost ground in America. Human responsibility is the key to much of what is needed; yet God’s providential blessings are needed even more, much more.(8)

So we need to pray fervently for God’s blessings, daily—not just on the National Day of Prayer.(8)

References   

  1. Pipkin, W. 2020. Bald Eagles’ Recovery Along James River Soars to New Heights: Area’s 300 Breeding Pairs Surpass Goal for Entire Chesapeake Watershed. Chesapeake Bay Journal. 30(3):17-18.
  2. Dietrich, T. 2019. Bald Eagles Enter ‘Golden Age’ in Chesapeake Bay. Daily Press. Posted (July 9, 2019) on DailyPress.com at http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-nws-bald-eagles-recovery-20190709-story.html (accessed May 9, 2020).
  3. Eggleton, M. 2016. The American Bald Eagle: On Eagle’s Wings. 38(2):34-37, posted at https://creation.com/on-eagles-wings . See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward. Acts & Facts, 47(4):21, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward .
  4. Johnson, J. J. S. 2008. Alaska’s Coastal Rainforests and Two of its Rangers, the Bald Eagle and the Alaska Moose. Dallas: NWD Press/RCCL’s Radiance of the Seas (July 2008), pages 10-11.
  5. Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Post-Coronavirus Comeback or Swan’s Song? Creation Science Update. Posted (April 23, 2020) at https://www.icr.org/article/post-coronavirus-comeback-or-swans-song .
  6. Johnson, J. J. S. 2019. Does Global Warming Threaten Bird Habitats? Acts & Facts. 48(6):21, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/does-global-warming-threaten-bird-habitats .
  7. Whitaker Jr., J. O. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, revised edition. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 850-854, Plates # 329-333.
  8. James 5:16; 1 Timothy 2:1-3. See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Prayers for America and our Divine Editor. ICR News. Posted (May 7, 2020) at https://www.icr.org/article/prayers-for-america-and-our-divine-editor .

Birds Are Wonderful: M, N, and O !

BIRDS  ARE  WONDERFUL  . . .  M,  N,  and  O !

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Jesus said: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink . . . Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, . . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”   (Matthew 6:25-26)

For welcoming in the year of our Lord 2020,  below follows the fifth advance installment of alphabet-illustrating birds of the world, as part of this new series (“Birds Are Wonderful  —  and Some Are a Little Weird*).  The letter M is illustrated by Magpies, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Motmots.  The letter N  illustrated by Nightingale, Needle-billed Hermit, and Nighthawk (also called “Nightjar”).  The letter O illustrated by Osprey, Oriental Stork, and Oystercatcher.

“M” BIRDS:   Magpies, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Motmots.

BAW-Magpie-MagnificentFrigatebirdBAW-Motmots

“N” BIRDS:  Nightingale, Needle-billed Hermit, and Nighthawk.

BAW-Nightingale-NeedlebilledHermitBAW-Nighthawk

“O” BIRDS:  Osprey, Oriental Stork, and Oystercatcher.

BAW-Osprey-OrientalStorkBAW-Oystercatcher

Birds are truly wonderful — and some, like the “egg-dumping” Oystercatcher, are a little bit odd, if not also weird!  (Stay tuned for more, D.v.)


* Quoting from “Birds Are Wonderful, and Some Are a Little Weird”, (c) AD2019 James J. S. Johnson   [used here by permission].

BAW-MagellanicOystercatcher-white-sand

 

An Amazing Osprey Out Fishing!

Received this from an email and needs to be shared! Enjoy!

Osprey with his catch!

But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, (Deuteronomy 14:12 KJV)
BOTH THE BIRD AND THE PHOTOGRAPHY
Hard to believe this Osprey got 5-6 fish at a time,  then got a ‘flounder’ under 3 feet of water and finally made off with what looks to be a 5+ lbs steel head.
Have you ever seen a bird shake water off like a dog does?
Wouldn’t want to get in its way when its eyes are locked onto you and talons in the “load” position! It’s talons are amazing!
There are 3 sequences in this one video:
1st sequence – catches half a dozen fish in one strike.
2nd sequence – plunges talons into deep water to grab the prey.
3rd sequence – captures a big old fish that looks as if it weighs more than he does!
This is incredible to watch!

CLICK: OSPREY

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Harriet, The Osprey

Osprey Harriet’s transmitter is safely attached ©Craig Koppie USFWS

James J. S. Johnson, [Dr. Jim, to me] sent a very interesting article to share with you all. It is about an Osprey, named Harriet, who lives up in the Baltimore, Maryland [USA] area. Recently they, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, mounted a satellite tracker on her. Wait, here is the article:

“…On July 10, Harriet was captured and fitted with a satellite transmitter to track her movements. The transmitter, which has a visible antenna, was comfortably and securely attached by a harness onto Harriet’s back.

Like so many other birds we see around the Chesapeake in spring and summer, ospreys begin to migrate to South America in September for the winter. Most of our Chesapeake osprey spend the colder months there, ranging from Venezuela, to as far south as Paraguay and even Argentina.”

Continue to the article, Hurricanes no match for Baltimore’s Harriet the Osprey on her fall trek, by CLICKING HERE

Harriot’s trip so far – Satelite ©USFWS


“Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39:26-27 KJV)

We have also written articles along this line about tracking our migrating avian wonders from the Lord:

Lee’s Seven Word Sunday – 3/12/17

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Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) -Viera Wetlands by Dan

UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK

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Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” (1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV)

Osprey Eating – Viera Wetlands by Dan

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More Daily Devotionals

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Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida II

Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida,

from Chaplain Bob’s Backyard: Part 2

 by James J. S. Johnson

Moscovy Duck

Muscovy ducklings in the rain   (photo credit: J Pat Carter / AP)

For He [i.e., God] maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof, which the clouds do drop and distil [literally, pour down and drop down] upon man abundantly.  (Job 36:27-28)

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10-11)

[photo above: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02298/ducklings_2298053k.jpg ]

A pond is not a pond unless it has standing [“lentic”] water, — yet a pond will eventually dry up (and thus cease to be a “pond”) if cloud-dumped rains fail to refill its standing waters!  (The same is true of running [“lotic”] waters – see 1st Kings 17:7.)  Why?  Because rain-provided water is always escaping ponds by evaporation.  (That’s why swimming pool owners must continually add more water to their pools.)

Accordingly, every pond needs rain (or snow that melts into rain-like liquid water), sooner or later, to be a pond!  Obviously, steady rainfall impedes birdwatching, so ideal birdwatching is done when it is not raining.  Even so, all bird-watchers should appreciate the rains that God sends, from time to time!  In fact, rain is a major part of God’s program for how our world and its diverse lifeforms function:  birds need rain, other animals need rain, people need rain, plants need rain, even microörganisms needs rain, — and all of that water is continually recycled throughout the earth!  In fact, Earth itself is mostly water!

As the prophet Isaiah noted [above]—and as every Gideon knows — God’s providentially sustained hydrologic cycle is comparable to how, all over the world, God carefully manages and orchestrates the specific influence and productivity of His written Word.  For more Scriptures relevant to Earth’s water cycle, see also Deuteronomy 8:7 & 32:2; Job 26:8; Ecclesiastes 1:7 & 11:3; Amos 5:8 & 9:6; Psalm 19:1-2 (noting that solar heat affects the sky) & 65:9-10 & 72:6 & 104:10-18 & 135:7; Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 10:13 & 14:22 & 51:16; Zechariah 10:1; — and especially Luke 12:54.

This birding report follows “Part 1” of this mini-series.   As noted in Part 1, I happily observed the busy birds at the pond that borders the backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (of St. Petersburg, Florida) on the morning of February 9th (AD2015), a Monday, when we saw 14 birds and heard (but did not see) a mourning dove.  As noted before, those birds were busy  —  quacking, splashing, swimming, perching on shoreline tree branches, dabbling, diving, and with several of them sporadically flying here and there.

Already, 5 of those lacustrine birds were described in Part 1 (Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture).  This Part 2 will feature 5 more:  Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Snowy Egret, and Common Moorhen.  (Hopefully, the remaining 5 birds will be mentioned in an anticipated “Part 3” of this series.)

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) By Dan'sPix

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) By Dan’sPix

WOOD STORK   (Mycteria americana).

The Wood Stork (in some places nicknamed “Flinthead”, and f/k/a “wood ibis”) is a huge, long-legged wading bird, built somewhat like a large egret, heron, ibis, or spoonbill.  This bird is tall!  — with adults growing from 3 to almost 4 feet high!  The Wood Stork sports a long, flexible, blackish-grey, featherless neck.  Its ibis-like head is likewise featherless and not likely to be called beautiful (except by its mother).  Its powerful and prodigious bill is stout and slightly curved, well-fitted for probing in mud or muddy water, and for gobbling up fish, frogs, snakes, bugs, and worms located in wetland mud.  Storks sometimes eat small birds, small mammals, and even baby alligators!  The feathers of the Wood Stork are mostly white, except for the tail-feathers and black edge of its wings, which trail behind when the stork is flying.  Its feet are noticeably reddish in color.

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) sitting by Dan

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) sitting by Dan

The Wood Stork is typically mute (i.e., no vocal calls), communicating in other ways, such as by “bill-clattering”.  Being very large – and therefore heavy — birds, Wood Storks try to conserve their food-provided energy when flying.  Like other heavy birds (e.g., eagles, vultures, hawks), storks locate and “ride” thermal air currents, soaring and gliding when they can.  A true wetland bird, the Wood Stork is comfortable in a variety of wet habitats (such as ponds, marshy pastures, and swampy woodlands).  Storks construct huge nests for their families, typically as part of a stork colony (which may include literally thousands of stork pairs), often adding size to them year after year – some being built to about 6 feet in diameter and about 10 feet in depth!  Usually storks are monogamous (i.e., a male and female stay paired till one dies) although, for reasons not understood, sometimes pairs can get separated during a migration.  The dependability of the stork, in its migratory movements, is reflected in its Hebrew name (chasidah) which means “faithful” — see Jeremiah 8:7, explained in “A Lesson from the Stork” (posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/lesson-from-stork ).  Although they often migrate – spending summer in the southeastern states, these storks are known to reside in Florida (and parts of Georgia) year-round.  (See range map in Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [Little, Brown & Co., 1996], page 47, — as well as National Audubon Society’s Field Guide to North American Birds – Eastern Region [Alfred A, Knopf, 1994 revised edition], co-authored by John Bull & John Farrand, Jr., at page 379-380.)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) by Ray

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) by Ray

LESSER  SCAUP   (a/k/a “LITTLE BLUEBILL”:  Aythya affinis).

The Lesser Scaup looks a lot like the Greater Scaup, but there are two ways to distinguish these look-almost-alike ducks:  (1) different shapes of their respective heads and bills; and (2) different winter ranges of territory where they live.  Donald and Lillian Stokes note the following traits:  “Head and bill shapes are most useful characteristics distinguishing [the Lesser Scaup] from the Greater Scaup … [on the] Lesser Scaup the head comes to a peak at the top or near the back [of the head]; [the Lesser Scaup] bill is slightly shorter and narrower [than that of the Greater Scaup].”  (Quoting Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], page 75.)  Regarding the respective ranges of scaups, the typical winter range territories of the Lesser Scaup includes the East Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast, and non-mountainous regions of states (including most of Texas) that include the greater Mississippi River Valley’s tributary drainage basin.

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) by Ray

Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) by Ray

The Greater Scaup, however, has a winter range that usually includes only the northern portions of the West Coast and East Coast, plus regions near the Great Lakes.  (Compare the sparser ranges indicated in Stokes & Stokes, Eastern Region, at page 75, with the range maps in Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds Eastern Birds:  A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, abbreviated as “Eastern Birds” [Peterson Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin, 1980], at maps M43 & M44, with field notes at pages 58 & 72.)   In other words, if it’s a scaup on a Florida pond, it’s probably a Lesser Scaup!  The male of this duck has an easy-to recognize color pattern:  its bill is pale blue, its head, breast, and tail are dark-blackish; its flanks are white, and its back is mottled grey. In bright sunlight the male’s head has a purplish iridescence.   The female is mostly dark grey-brownish and black, with a noticeable white patch-like spots on both sides of her dark bill. (As with ducks generally, the easiest way to spot a female Lesser Scaup is to watch for a dark duck that pairs with a male Lesser Scaup!)   These ducks are divers – they dive into pond-water to catch and consume submergent plant seeds, insects, snails, and small crustaceans.  These duck are seen on ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshlands (including “prairie potholes” and estuarial saltmarshes).  Lesser Scaups, like ducks generally, are social creatures – sometimes they aggregate in hundreds or even thousands!  In many places, due to the availability of needed resources – which may be indicted by the size of a lake or pond, less than a hundred (maybe only a dozen) will group together.   Bird-books sometimes allege irresponsible and irrational opinions about how scaups supposedly “evolved” (e.g., Bull & Farrand, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 403), without any forensic evidence for such science fiction. The real truth is that all Lesser Scaups (like all other ducks) ultimately descend from ducks that disembarked Noah’s Ark, about 4500 years ago, which Flood survivors were themselves s directly descended form ducks that God made on Day #5 of Creation Week (see Genesis 1:21).

Osprey at Circle B by Lee

Osprey at Circle B by Lee

OSPREY    (a/k/a “FISH HAWK”:  Pandion haiaetus).

The Osprey is rightly nicknamed the “fish hawk” – they love to catch and eat fish! And, to the delight of bird-watchers, ospreys are not afraid to display their fish-eating lifestyle to nearby humans. Donald and Lillian Stokes make this interesting observation about osprey behavior:  “Among our birds of prey the osprey is one of the most amenable to living near humans.  Its main requirements are open water [such as a Florida pond!] where it can hunt for fish and a platform or strong tree where it can build its nest.  Ospreys have occasionally built nests [or use habitual perching sites] right next to homes [such as a large tree in the Webels’ backyard, bordering the pond], in parking lots, and in public parks.  Although they do not prefer being near humans [especially busy humans who move around a lot, causing distraction], they do seem to tolerate human presence, an ability that is a big asset for the survival of any species.” (Quoting “Osprey”, by Donald W. Stokes & Lillian Q. Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III (Little, Brown & Co., 1989), page 159.]  The Osprey has a range that includes river systems in America’s Great West (e.g., Wyoming’s Snake River), a well as coastlines on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast.  (See Stokes & Stokes, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 94.)  This “fish hawk” is relatively slender, for a hawk, but obviously stouter than a falcon.

Osprey Catching Fish - Viera Wetlands

Osprey Catching Fish – Viera Wetlands by Dan

The Osprey is long-winged, white underneath (except the outer feathers of its wings, and its tail, which are brown), with a mottled brown pattern above; its head is mostly white, with a dark side-streak that passes “through” each eye and on the side of the hawk’s face.  The talons of this fish-grabber are opened for prey, when the Osprey dives into water, tightly clutching any fish it succeeds in seizing after it splashes into the water.  Sometimes a dead Osprey is seen hanging onto a riverine fish.  How did that happen?  Occasionally a strong fish flees when attacked by an Osprey, diving deeper with the Osprey still attached, as the desperate fish tries to avoid its avian pursuer.  If the Osprey’s talons are embedded in the diving fish’s flesh, the fish may cause the Osprey to die by drowning, if the Osprey cannot shake loose its talons in time to escape.   (Fishing always has its hazards, as any fisherman knows!) If the Osprey is successful, it quickly re-surfaces and flies off with its fish, adjusting its hold on the fish so that the fish’s face is pointed forward – for safe eating.  Ospreys are sloppy eaters.  If Ospreys eat chunks of their catch while perched in tree branches that spread over where you are sitting, watch out!  Fish scraps may fall on your head – or something worse (!) might drop onto your head.  Therefore, a wide beach umbrella (like one that Bob and Marcia Webel have, and use in their backyard, while bird-watching) is a good “shield” to have when Ospreys are eating above you.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Notice Yellow Feet by Lee at Circle B

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) Notice Yellow Feet by Lee at Circle B

SNOWY  EGRET   (Egretta thula).

This beautiful white-feathered egret looks like a small version of the Great Egret (a/k/a Great White Egret), except it has its trademark “golden slippers” – i.e., its long skinny black legs end with feet that are conspicuously bright-yellow (unlike the black feet of a Great White Egret).  Also, the slender Snowy Egret has a thin black bill, in contrast to the thicker golden-yellow bill of the stouter  Great White Egret.   (See Roger Tory Peterson, Eastern Birds [noted above, in entry on the Lesser Scaup], pages 102-103 & map M93 & M444.)   Sometimes the Snowy Egret’s feathers, at the back of its head, “hang loose” (i.e., these feathers won’t lay down close to the bird’s head/neck), looking somewhat like a comb-over that won’t “sit down”).   Its feet stir up opportunities to find food:  “When feeding [it] rushes about, shuffling [its] feet to stir up food.”  (Quoting Peterson, Eastern Birds, at page 102.)

Snowy Egret Circle B 8-3-12 by Lee

Snowy Egret Circle B by Lee

Like other egrets, the Snowy Egret habituates the marshy edges of lakes and ponds, as well as other marshy areas, eating fish and almost anything else it can grab with its bill. The summer range of this elegant egret is broad – it can be found at and near many lakes, ponds, estuarial marshlands, and even wet pasturelands throughout America’s lower 48 states.  During winter it can be found all over Florida , as well as all along the Gulf Coast, along the East Coast as far north as North Carolina, plus parts of California (See Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds –  Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 35.)  notwithstanding taxonomic “splitting”, this is basically the same bird that Europeans call the “Little Egret” (Egretta garzetta), which winters in northern Africa.  (See, accord, Chris Kightley, Steve Madge, & Dave Nurney, Pocket Guide to Birds of Britain and North-West Europe [British Trust for Ornithology/Yale University Press, 1998], page 19.)

CommonMoorhen (Gallinula chloropus) by Reinier Munguia

CommonMoorhen (Gallinula chloropus) by Reinier Munguia

Candy-Corn

Candy-Corn

FLORIDA  GALLINULE   (a/k/a “COMMON MOORHEN” & “COMMON GALLINULE”:   Gallinula chloropus).

This gallinule (i.e., chicken-sized marsh-fowl) is almost all black, with a characteristic and conspicuous yellow-tipped scarlet-red bill.  (Actually the scarlet part of the bill can fade to a less vibrant reddish hue during winter.)  Due to the specific color pattern and shape of this gallinule’s bill, ornithologist Lee Dusing aptly calls this the “candy corn” bird.  (Some of us remember “candy corn” as a trick-or-treat candy.)  This waterfowl makes a variety of noises, including chicken-like clucking noises (befitting its nickname “moorhen”).  The Florida Gallinule is quite similar to the American Coot (which, though a similarly shaped black gallinule, is distinguishable by its all-white bill) and the Purple Gallinule (which is distinguishable due to its male’s iridescent peacock-blue, indigo, and slightly purplish breast and neck feathers, and its glossy green back feathers).  The long “fingers” (i.e., toes) on their feet enable this gallinule to spread out their modest body weight so that they can “walk” on lily pads and similar vegetation that floats in marshy lentic waters.  This gallinule (or “moorhen”) habituates lakes, ponds, and marshy wet places, often near cattails, summering in states east of and within the Mississippi River Valley, plus a few coastal place on the West Coast.  (See Stokes & Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to Birds – Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], page 139; Bull & Farrand, Eastern Region [noted above, in entry on the Wood Stork], at page 459.)  Its diet includes marshy vegetation (especially seeds), snails, land bugs, and water bugs.  This rail-like bird is entertaining to watch, routinely bobs its head while swimming across a pond.  Like coots they confidently swim in open-water contexts where they are easily observable to appreciative bird-watchers (like me).

Wow!  That’s another 5 of the 15 birds that the Webels and I observed, that morning, from the Webels’ pond-side backyard.   Stay tuned!  God willing, the remaining 5 birds will be given their proper recognition, at this excellent bird-site!

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On the morning of February 9th, AD2015, from the pond-side backyard of Bob & Marcia Webel (while enjoying breakfast and Christian fellowship with the Webels), I saw 14 birds:  Great Blue Heron, Brown Pelican, Mallard, Double-Crested Cormorant, and Black Vulture  –  as reported previously – plus Wood Stork, Lesser Scaup, Osprey, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Common Tern, and Florida Gallinule,   — as reported above  —  as well as Muscovy Duck, Great Egret, White Ibis, and Common Tern, plus the cooing of a nearby Mourning Dove was clearly recognizable.  It is hoped (God willing) that one more report will supplement this one, so the remaining 5 birds will be properly recognized for their lacustrine appearances on that Monday morning.

James J. S. Johnson loves duck ponds, having formerly taught Environmental Limnology and Water Quality Monitoring for Dallas Christian College, as well as other courses on ecology and ornithology.  The hydrologic cycle Scriptures (quoted at the beginning of this bird-watching report) are especially appreciated by Jim, as a Certified Water Quality Monitor, certified by and serving the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, providing reports on Furneaux Creek to the Trinity River Authority of Texas.  Like us all, birds need clean water!  Accordingly, backyard pond habitats are for bird-watching!

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Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida I

Other Articles by James J. S. Johnson

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Circle B After Recent Rains

On Wednesday morning, July 16th, we decided to go out to Circle B Bar Reserve and see how the water levels were doing. We have had quite a bit of rain recently and figured that it had to be better than last time. It was quite dry then.

We were not disappointed. The marsh actually looked like a marsh for a change. There weren’t too many birds, but then again this time of the year most are up north.

Removing the huge fallen Oak tree at Circle B

Removing the huge fallen Oak tree at Circle B

If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. (Ecclesiastes 11:3-5 NKJV)

We were greeted at the parking lot by a crew working on a huge oak tree that had fallen. They were removing it. Sure glad no cars had been parked there at the time it came down.

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) With Fish

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) With Fish

We managed to see quite a few Ospreys, one eating a huge fish up in a tree. There were at least five Tricolored Herons, one of them a juvenile, a Snowy Egret, two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, some Common Gallinules, an Anhinga and lots of Black and Turkey Vultures circling overhead.

 

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) Juvenile Circle B by Lee

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) Juvenile Circle B by Lee

It was hot, humid, and it began to sprinkle, so we left after about 50 minutes or so. None the less, it is always enjoyable to get out and enjoy the Lord’s creations. I am also thankful that the Lord gave the rain recently to fill up the marsh again and water to drink. We had cool water in the car and did it ever “hit the spot.”

Here are some of my photos and videos that I took.

How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. (Daniel 4:3 KJV)

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Birds Vol 2 #2 – The American Osprey

The American Osprey for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897 From col. F. M. Woodruff

The American Osprey for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

The American Osprey.

Here is the picture of a remarkable bird. We know him better by the name Fish Hawk. He looks much like the Eagle in July “Birds.” The Osprey has no use for Mr. Eagle though.

You know the Bald Eagle or Sea Eagle is very fond of fish. Well, he is not a very good fisherman and from his lofty perch he watches for the Fish Hawk or Osprey. Do you ask why? Well, when he sees a Fish Hawk with his prey, he is sure to chase him and take it from him. It is for this reason that Ospreys dislike the Bald Eagle.

Their food is fish, which as a rule they catch alive.

It must be interesting to watch the Osprey at his fishing. He wings his way slowly over the water, keeping a watch for fish as they appear near the surface.

When he sees one that suits him, he hovers a moment, and then, closing his wings, falls upon the fish.

Sometimes he strikes it with such force that he disappears in the water for a moment. Soon we see him rise from the water with the prey in his claws.

He then flies to some tall tree and if he has not been discovered by his enemy, the Eagle, can have a good meal for his hard work.

Look at his claws; then think of them striking a fish as they must when he plunges from on high.

A gentleman tells of an Osprey that fastened his claws in a fish that was too large for him.

The fish drew him under and nothing more was seen of Mr. Osprey. The same gentleman tells of a fish weighing six pounds that fell from the claws of a Fish Hawk that became frightened by an Eagle.

The Osprey builds his nest much like the Bald Eagle. It is usually found in a tall tree and out of reach.

Like the Eagle, he uses the same nest each year, adding to it. Sometimes it measures five feet high and three feet across. One nest that was found, contained enough sticks, cornstalks, weeds, moss, and the like, to fill a cart, and made a load for a horse to draw. Like the Crows and Blackbirds they prefer to live together in numbers. Over three hundred nests have been found in the trees on a small island.

One thing I want you to remember about the Osprey. They usually remain mated for life.


Osprey Catching Fish - Viera Wetlands

Osprey Catching Fish – Viera Wetlands by Dan

THE AMERICAN OSPREY.

N interesting bird, “Winged Fisher,” as he has been happily called, is seen in places suited to his habits, throughout temperate North America, particularly about islands and along the seacoast. At Shelter Island, New York, they are exceedingly variable in the choice of a nesting place. On Gardiner’s Island they all build in trees at a distance varying from ten to seventy-five feet from the ground; on Plum Island, where large numbers of them nest, many place their nests on the ground, some being built up to a height of four or five feet while others are simply a few sticks arranged in a circle, and the eggs laid on the bare sand. On Shelter Island they build on the chimneys of houses, and a pair had a nest on the cross-bar of a telegraph pole. Another pair had a nest on a large rock. These were made of coarse sticks and sea weed, anything handy, such as bones, old shoes, straw, etc. A curious nest was found some years ago on the coast of New Jersey. It contained three eggs, and securely imbedded in the loose material of the Osprey’s nest was a nest of the Purple Grackle, containing five eggs, while at the bottom of the Hawk’s nest was a thick, rotten limb, in which was a Tree Swallow’s nest of seven eggs.

In the spring and early autumn this familiar eagle-like bird can be seen hovering over creek, river, and sound. It is recognized by its popular name of Fish-Hawk. Following a school of fish, it dashes from a considerable height to seize its prey with its stout claws. If the fish is small it is at once swallowed, if it is large, (and the Osprey will occasionally secure shad, blue fish, bass, etc., weighing five or six pounds,) the fish is carried to a convenient bluff or tree and torn to bits. The Bald Eagle often robs him of the fish by seizing it, or startling him so that he looses his hold.

The Osprey when fishing makes one of the most breezy, spirited pictures connected with the feeding habits of any of our birds, as often there is a splashing and a struggle under water when the fish grasped is too large or the great talons of the bird gets entangled. He is sometimes carried under and drowned, and large fish have been washed ashore with these birds fastened to them by the claws.

Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright says: “I found an Osprey’s nest in a crooked oak on Wakeman’s Island in late April, 1893. As I could not get close to the nest (the island is between a network of small creeks, and the flood tides covered the marshes,) I at first thought it was a monstrous crow’s nest, but on returning the second week in May I saw a pair of Osprey coming and going to and fro from the nest. I hoped the birds might return another season, as the nest looked as if it might have been used for two or three years, and was as lop-sided as a poorly made haystack. The great August storm of the same year broke the tree, and the nest fell, making quite a heap upon the ground. Among the debris were sticks of various sizes, dried reeds, two bits of bamboo fishing rod, seaweeds, some old blue mosquito netting, and some rags of fish net, also about half a bushel of salt hay in various stages of decomposition, and malodorous dirt galore.”

It is well-known that Ospreys, if not disturbed, will continue indefinitely to heap rubbish upon their nests till their bulk is very great. Like the Owls they can reverse the rear toe.


Osprey with Fish by Jim Fenton

Osprey with Fish by Jim Fenton

Lee’s Addition:

And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, (Leviticus 11:13 KJV)

We have the privilege of seeing Ospreys all the time. On a daily basis we spot them on their platforms that have been put up for them in this area. If they don’t place them there, then you find their nest in trees with bare branches that they can anchor the nest and have a good place to watch for fish.

Ospreys are in the Pandionidae – Ospreys Family and they are one of the Birds of the Bible.
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Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Sora Rail

The Previous Article – Old Abe

Wordless Birds

Links:

Birds of the Bible – Osprey
Birds of the Bible – Osprey II
Birds of the Bible – Osprey III
Birds of the Bible – Ospreys in the Storm
Nave’s Topical Bible – Osprey

Osprey – WhatBird.com
Osprey – Wikipedia

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Birds of the Bible – Ospreys in the Storm

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) ©©Mike Bowler

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) ©©Mike Bowler

Yesterday we had very heavy rain and wind. We were under Tornado Warnings most of the day. In the afternoon, it turned very bad as a tornado was being tracked just south of our house. Our flagpole went down as well as the concrete sign at the entrance to our community. There were plenty of trees and branches strewn around and planes tossed around at the Fun n Sun festival in Lakeland, Florida.

We went down to Bartow this afternoon and took the Old Bartow road, that I have renamed, the “Osprey Road.” There are many Osprey nest in the power lines down through there and also the electric companies have placed platforms for the Osprey to raise their babies.

One of the main food source for the Osprey is fish. We have had several very cold snaps these last two winters and many of the fish were killed off. Without a good source of food to raise their young, the numbers of Osprey have decreased in this area.

Osprey Road by Dan - (Old Bartow Road)

Osprey Road by Dan – (Old Bartow Road) 2007

This year we had already seen fewer Osprey’s raising their young. Now many of those nests were destroyed or left bedraggled by the storm yesterday. What a shame. Then again, had there been lots of active nest, there would have been more killed or injured birds.

We are reminded through Scripture that:

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. (Matthew 10:29 KJV)

They were not Sparrows, but I know that promise applied to them also. God, the Father, knows all about what happened to them. He is not so busy that He doesn’t take notice of such things. That is why that passage is so special, because, it goes on to say:

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:31-32 KJV)

Osprey with Fish by Jim Fenton

Osprey with Fish by Jim Fenton

Another thing about Ospreys as well as the other birds is that they were commanded to “multiply and fill the earth.” What I haven’t mentioned is that on the way down and back we saw four different sets of birds mating. I imagine that they lost their young and are busy planning the next clutch of birds to raise. Birds have emotions, and I am sure they feel the loss, but they have picked themselves back up and have begun repairing nests and starting new families.

May we be reminded that the Lord knows all about the things that happen to us. Sometimes the events aren’t so much “fun.” How do we handle situations when this happens. Do we keep our eyes on the Lord and trust Him to see us through it, or do we blame Him and become angry and miserable?
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Ospreys are in the Pandionidae Family of the Accipitriformes Order. There is an Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus) and a Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus).

See also:

Birds of the Bible – Osprey
Birds of the Bible – Osprey II
Birds of the Bible – Osprey III

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