Bird of the Week – Osprey


Osprey are comparative newcomers to Interior Alaska.

Osprey, North Pole, Alaska

Osprey, North Pole, Alaska

Note those talons, among the longest among all birds. The Osprey feeds almost exclusively on fish – another name for them is Fishhawk – and however slippery a fish might be, it’s unlikely to escape those talons.

Osprey need about 100-115 days to raise their kids:  Three days from completion of the nest to lay the eggs; about 37 days to incubate the eggs to hatching; 50-55 days to fledge and 10-15 days to be ready to migrate. Longer if they have to build the nest from scratch.  If you are going to eat fish, obviously you need the water to be unfrozen. So perhaps this is a species which will benefit from global warming.

But Osprey are indisputably breeding in Interior Alaska.

Osprey Nest, Goldstream Road, Fairbanks

Osprey Nest, Goldstream Road, Fairbanks

Osprey hunt by stooping, diving feet first, on fish in the top three feet or so of the water column. They are quite successful at foraging, and, since DDT was banned, quite successful at breeding. Osprey were severely impacted by the egg shall-thinning effets of DDT.

Osprey are among the most studied raptors, including some research done by Mrs. WC on the Ospreys at Cascade Lake, a reservoir in central Idaho. And this is a cosmopolitan species, found everywhere there is open water with fishing sufficient numbers to support big birds, across Europe and Asia. The North American populations winter in Central and South America. WC saw them in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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