Osprey Galore

Pandion haliaetusAre you old enough to remember when there were a lot fewer Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)? By the 1960s, numbers were grim because of a history of assassination, egg-collecting, and finally DDT, which weakened their eggs so much the birds were actually crushing their own young during incubation. Pandion haliaetusIn 1969, there were an estimated 150 breeding pairs found between New York and Boston; there had been 1000 in 1940. But recovery has been so successful they are now considered of Least Concern on the world-scale. They also nest right here in Brooklyn.Pandion haliaetusLast week, we went down to Virginia’s Middle Peninsula and saw oodles of them. Yes, oodles, not a particularly scientific term, but suggestive of their omnipresence. All these pictures are from that trip. Pandion haliaetusFor instance, crossing the Potomac Bridge, I counted seven over the river and one on a nest on the bridge. [Note to road-tripers, I was designated bird-spotter, not the driver.] At New Point Comfort Natural Area Preserve, we saw nine, perched on trees, old piers, what looked like a hunter’s blind, and on nests.Pandion haliaetusThis nest next to the Gwynn’s Island bridge shows their adaptability to the human environment.Pandion haliaetusOne was also perched atop the very tall mast of a yacht in Deltaville, the “sailing capital of the Chesapeake.” We also saw one chasing a Bald Eagle. Osprey’s are big, larger than Red-tailed Hawks, for instance, but still smaller than eagles.

And yesterday, back home in Brooklyn, we saw one fly over Grand Army Plaza with a fish in its talons. (Of course, I checked on the nest I can see from my window as soon as I got back: still sitting.)

That time I assisted the Maria Mitchell crew in banding baby Osprey on Nantucket:
Part I
Part II

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