Nature Journal page on Osprey graphite and color pencils by Meera Rao
I think he will be to Rome
as is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
by sovereignty of nature
~Shakespear Act 4 scene 7 Coriolanus~
I love watching the ospreys that frequent our backyard. They were already back from their winter migration by the time we returned on March 1 from our trip to India and London.
Their nest (called aeries) on a platform in the river with a 'no wake' sign looks like haphazardly arranged sticks. It has to be well constructed though as it has withstood many hurricanes and storms! They have been coming back to the same spot for many years now. I do not know if these are the same birds. I read that they mate for life and their lifespan is anywhere from 7-20 years. Only recently I read about how to tell apart a male and female but in practice though, I can't! Two days ago I saw one chick - I had been hearing the persistent cries for food for a few days now. I wonder how many will hatch. One of the parents always eats the fish (she/he catches by diving into the river- a wondrous feat to watch.) on the same branch of a pine tree in the yard. I see the fish fluttering for a few minutes under the sharp hooked talons as the bird tears into the head! A pair of fish crows always appear as soon the osprey catches the fish. They follow the raptor to a nearby branch cawing and being a nuisance. The fish crows watch carefully for any scraps that fall to the ground and swoop down to dine. There is usually no trace of any leftovers anywhere near the tree :)
sketches of osprey from my sketch book
I watched and sketched the ospreys over the past two months before I committed to devote a page in my journal. I added a sketch as my idea for the page evolved. Meanwhile, I learned that it is the second most widely distributed raptor species after Peregrine falcon. All ospreys around the world are part of single species except Eastern Osprey which is native to Australia. These migratory birds are found everywhere except in Antarctica. The Genus name Pandion derives from mythical Greek King of Athens, Grandfather of Theseus, Pandion 11. The species name comes from ancient Greek haliaietos: hali -sea aetos - eagle.
I read that the sexes appear fairly similar, but the adult male can be distinguished from the female by its slimmer body and narrower wings. The breast band of the male is also weaker than that of the female, or is non-existent, and the underwing coverts of the male are more uniformly pale. The explanation said it is straightforward to determine the sex in a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds. I will have to watch them even more closely paying special attention to the markings to make some progress on id-ing them! I am looking forward to find out how many chicks hatch and seeing the family flying around in about a month or so :)