Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ospreys in Crisfield, Maryland

"I think he'll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature."
- Shakespeare: Act 4 Scene 5 of Coriolanus

The ospreys have returned to Crisfield, and are busy making their nests.

I captured these ospreys fighting over a nest in the bay while we were out on our boat. Ospreys usually return to the same nest every year. You only see two ospreys in the photos, but there were actually two pairs fighting over the nest. One pair was trying to guard their fish, which it appears fell apart and dropping into the bay. You will have to blow up the photos to see the details.

Besides the channel markers shown in the photo, there are many man-made nesting platforms around Crisfield; a delight to tourists and locals, especially when they can see the babies.

Fish make up 99 percent of the Osprey's diet. Prey is first sighted when the Osprey is 10–40 metres (32–130 ft) above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water. It is able to dive to a depth of one metre (3.3 ft). The angle of entry into the water varies with the nature of the prey; steeper, slower dives are used when pursuing deeper, slow-moving fish, while long, quick dives are used for faster surface fish. After catching the fish considerable effort is needed to get airborne again. As it rises back into flight the fish is turned head-forward to reduce drag.

Generally, Ospreys reach sexual maturity and begin breeding around the age of three to four years, though in some regions with high Osprey densities, such as Crisfield and other areas around the Chesapeake Bay, they may not start breeding until five to seven years old, and there may be a shortage of suitable tall structures. That is why we have so many man-made platforms.

Ospreys usually mate for life.

Interesting facts:

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder reported that parent Ospreys made their young fly up to the sun as a test, and dispatch any that failed.

Another odd legend regarding this fish-eating bird of prey, derived from the writings of Albertus Magnus and recorded in Holinshed's Chronicles, was that it had one webbed foot and one taloned foot.

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats used a grey wandering Osprey as a representation of sorrow in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems.

The Osprey is depicted as a white eagle in heraldry, and more recently has become a symbol of positive responses to nature, and as such has been featured on more than 50 postage stamps.

"Soon as the sun, great ruler of the year,
Bends to our northern clime his bright career,
And from the caves of ocean calls from sleep
The finny shoals and myriads of the deep;
When freezing tempests back to Greenland ride,
And day and night the equal hours divide,
True to the season, o'er our sea-beat shore,
The sailing osprey high is seen to soar,
With broad unmoving wing, and circling slow,
Marks each loose straggler in the deep below;
Sweeps down like lightning! plunges with a roar!
And bears his struggling victim to the shore."
- Alexander Wilson (1766-1813)

Visit us in Crisfield, and be sure and bring your binoculars and cameras!

Osprey facts from Wikipedia.


Lew said...

Beautiful shots of these big birds! I have seen them nesting in the St Michaels area, but not gotten photos like these.

pizzapizza said...

Great shots Patty

GingerV said...

Oh Patty this are wonderful, you lucky girl with your eyes and your camera. when at rest their body shape is very much like a hawk. made my day.

Butler and Bagman said...

Woah! That bird has one scary eye. And I suspect you have one very nice long lens.

Patty said...

Thanks Lew. They don't seem to mind people or noisy boats too much. Had they not been fighting over the nest they would have just sat there and watched us pass. They do keep an good eye on the people in the boats. I would not want to stick my hand in front of them.

GingerV: They are beautiful birds. Thanks.

Pizzapizza: Thanks!

Butler and Bagman: I wish a had a longer lens. I took these photos with the 70-200 Nikon/2.8. It is a must for feature shots.

I would like to have a longer lens, but it is not practical with the type shooting that I do, and with three cameras and other assorted lenses and attachments, where would I put another lens? Perhaps when I win the lottery.

Joanne said...

You've got a whole society going on up there in those nests ... love, food, battles, home.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

You have quiet an eye there girlie!

Barry said...

I have to echo the comment sentiment, those are some great shots you got there of some really spectacular birds.

Doreen said...

fantastic shots Patty!

Noelle said...

Wowwwwwww...those are great pics my friend!! Breathtaking, really.