Ospreys Advantages when Fishing

“Osprey fishing” by Rainbirder is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Piscivorous means ‘fish eating’ and Ospreys are almost exclusively fish eating birds.

Since this is the beginning of World Osprey Week, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate those pecularities to the Osprey that allow it to fish so well. In the image above, the Osprey is using its very developed musculature system to pull the fish out of the water. Look at those wings, uplifted bringing the bird out of the water.

In order to hold on to that fish without it slipping, the Osprey has several advantages that other raptors, such as eagles, lack. The talons of an Osprey are round. Because they are round they can dig deep into the flesh of the fish. The talons of other raptors are concave with a groove on the underside. Look at that rough skin covering the feet. We might want to send them for a pedicure but it is those are sharp little barbs (like needles) called spicules that also help grasp those slippery slimy fish. Ospreys are the only raptor that has a reversible toe. Normally there are three toes in front and the hallux in the back. When fishing, Ospreys can move one of the front toes to the back to help hold on to the fish. This means that they can adjust the toes to catch the prey from the front or the back. Incredible.

Ospreys big yellow eyes can see 19x better than we can as humans. Not only is their eye sight extraordinary, they also have a transparent third eyelid called the transparent nicitating membrane that protects their eyes when they dive. Kind of like a permanent pair of goggles! And to offset the glare, there is the distinctive black strip of plumage that runs from their eye to their neck.

“More Osprey Fishing” by geoff bosco is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When they hunt, Ospreys fly over a body of water at approximately 18 m or 60 feet in the air. When they spot a fish, they hover, something other raptors cannot do. Then they flap their wings and plunge almost straight into the water feet first. Their nostrils close completely when they dive! They can completely close and lock their talons in 2/100th of a second. I honestly cannot imagine how quick that is. But it does allow for them to be successful when hunting – and their success rate is about 20% or every 1 out of 5 attempts.

This three minute video by the BBC is one of the best at showing how Ospreys fish:

Thanks for joining me today. I hope to see you again soon. Happy World Osprey Week!

The main image is “aguila pescadora 15 – osprey fishing” by ferran pestaña is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

World Osprey Week Begins

World Osprey Week is from 22-26 and it celebrates the arrival of the Ospreys from their winter migration in Africa back to the United Kingdom in spring. For the second year, the pandemic has caused previous large celebrations to be much scaled down. Still, it does not damper the enthusiasm of Osprey lovers throughout Wales, England, and Scotland as they welcome home these beautiful yellow eyed sea hawks.

There is even an app and a website where you can go for sightings and confirmed arrivals on nests. This is very impressive.

And there are educational programmes and YouTube videos all week. Here is Day 1:

There are also free digital educational packets which you can order on line. Simply go to this URL and sign up: www.lrwt.org.uk/wow

Now let’s check and see which of the Ospreys at monitored nests have arrived so far.

The very first Osprey to arrive was Blue 25 (10), a female. She is back on one of the Rutland’s nests. Blue 25 (10) was born in Rutland in 2010 – hence, the (10) in brackets behind the tag colour and number.

The stars of the Mantou Nest are Maya and Blue 33 (11). They arrived within thirty-minutes of one another. Great planning! Blue 33 (11) flew in at 12:29 followed by Maya at 12:56. These two have been together and raising chicks since 2015. And they wasted no time in getting reacquainted. The streaming cam caught them mating at 1pm! After fighting over a fish that Maya caught, Blue 33 decided some nestorations were in order.

After bonding it was time to eat and you can see that everyone wants the fish that Maya caught! Too funny.

All is calm again and it is time to start getting the nest in order. Don’t you think Blue 33 (11) is handsome?

Blue 33 (11) looking up at the camera.

And both arrived back on the nest right before dawn on the 22nd of March to start things off:

Laddie (LM12) arrived home at 5pm, 21 March, at the Loch of the Lowes Reserve nest. He is the resident male at this nest. There is a new female as of last March tagged NCO. She was ringed as a chick at Loch Ness in 2016. His former mate was LF15. She went missing on the 7 August 2018.

Lock Arkaig is awaiting the arrival of Louis and Alia.

The nest at Glaswyn is awaiting for the arrival of Mrs G (the oldest Osprey in Wales) and Aran.

The Cumbria Wildlife Trust is waiting for arrivals to their Foulshaw Moss Osprey Nest . 2021 will be the eighth year running – should the mated pair arrive – that Osprey chicks have been born on this nest. The couple are Blue 35 (female) and White YW (male). This mated couple have fledged sixteen chicks between 2014-2020. At least one of their fledglings, Blue 5N, of 2018 has been spotted in The Gambia in 2019.

So everyone is waiting! Some people are trying to keep six screens open at one time in case someone arrives today. Enjoy the beginning of World Osprey Week! Find a nest and enjoy all the fun of the arrivals.

And before I close this off. Just a note. The Achieva Osprey nest fooled me again. All three had full crops this morning at 9:33 CDT. Wow. So happy. Let’s hope Jack continues to bring in very large fish. It helps.

Thank you to Achieva Credit Union, the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, Friends of Loch Arkaig FB, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust for their streaming cams where I got my scaps.