Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Fish Hawk At Lake Monticello

Kevin and Summer came to Monticello this weekend to help Shelley and I out at the store. We ate dinner at Layne's and then took a trip to Lake Monticello to see if we would have any luck bird watching.

I have seen the large nest on the south side of the lake for some time now. I had always thought it was an eagle's nest but had never seen any eagles. Kevin and I went out on the dock to look a little closer at the nest.

We saw a large bird in the nest and thing began to see several more start flying around the nest. The nest was about 150 yards from the dock we were watching from. We counted 5 birds in all, two adults and three juveniles. One of the juveniles flew up and landed on a limb with a fish and started eating. We identified the birds as Ospreys.

These birds are hawks that are common around freshwater and known as the "Fish Hawk". They hover over water and dive feet first into the water to catch their prey. This method of catching their prey with their feet is unique among raptors. Ospreys are large raptors reaching 22-25" long with a wingspan between 58-72".

The Osprey is very unique with a white head and a dark eye streak. Their underparts are white, which helps to conceal them as they fly over their prey.

The Osprey also has a unique way of flying with their preys in their talons. They will align the fish the head first, pointing in the direction of their flight. We were able to witness an Osprey exhibiting this behavior as he was approaching the tree to eat.

The Osprey population was threatened in the 50s and 60s as the misuse of pesticides, such as DDT, increased. Pesticides caused thinning of a birds eggshell, therefore, effected the reproductive cycle. As DDT was banned in the early 70s and conservation measures were instituted, the Osprey population has made a comeback.

This was the first time I've been at the lake so late in the day. I was able to snap several pictures of the sun as it set. The colors were very nice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's really amazing...nice camera work..

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