Dinner with the Ospreys

Dinner with the Ospreys

Can’t Wait, photo by Jiafan(John) Xu

Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan shares some information about Michigan Osprey:

An Osprey is a large bird with a length of 22-25 inches, a wingspan of 4.5-6 feet, and a weight of approximately four pounds. The Osprey has a dark brown back and a white belly, as well as a white head, which features a dark stripe running from its yellow eyes to the back of its head. Female Ospreys are slightly larger than males and may sport a dark speckled necklace

..The Osprey dines almost exclusively on live fish, often catching its meals by hovering over the water at an altitude of 50 to 200 feet, then diving feet first into the water to catch its prey. The Osprey’s feet are uniquely adapted to “air fishing.” Each Osprey foot has a reversible front toe, as well as barbs, called spicules, which help it hold onto a slippery fish in flight. Normally, an Osprey will aerodynamically position a fish headfirst in its talons before it returns to the nest.

These talons definitely look like fish hooks – read on for more!

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow where you can also see shots from a trip out west.

More Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Birds of Michigan: Osprey

Osprey Building a Nest

Osprey Building a Nest, photo by Rodney Campbell

All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the internet’s best resource for bird information. Their entry for Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) says that osprey are one of the largest birds of prey in North America and one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. More about osprey at Wikipedia and at Pandion haliaetus (Osprey) from the UM Animal Diversity web.

The Michigan DNR’s Osprey page begins:

The “fish hawk” is brown above and white below, and files with a distinct bend in its wing at the “wrist.” Their feet are equipped with spiny scales and long talons that give them a firm grip on slippery fish, their only prey. Ospreys usually select tall trees in marshes along streams, lakes or man made floodings. They will adapt to artificial nesting platforms. This “help” from humans, along with the restriction of certain harmful pesticides, has helped ospreys recover from the drastic population reductions seen in the 1950s and ’60s. The Nongame Wildlife Fund located 166 pairs in 1988, up from the 81 counted in 1975.

They ask for help in reporting osprey sightings in southern Michigan. Also check out Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan.

Rodney took this photo of an osprey building its nest in Milford.

MichiganOsprey.com is a great local resource and adds:

Like Bald Eagles, Ospreys often reuse old nests, adding new material to them each season. Ospreys prefer nests near water, especially in large trees, but will also nest on artificial platforms. Ospreys three years or older usually mate for life, and their spring courtship begins a five-month period when they raise their young.

View it background bigtacular and see more in his Birds slideshow.

Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan Bird photos!!