Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Osprey at Quick Point Nature Preserve...

Birding Longboat Key, Florida
...continued from the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck post.

If you've been to Quick Point Nature Preserve on Longboat Key, Florida lately, you've probably seen this fellow. He was there every time I visited, usually in this tree or the tree at the far end of the first pond. He was very chatty, and I liked that!

Ospreys always look just a bit surprised to me. It's probably because they lack the heavily pronounced supraorbital ridge above their eyes that hawks and eagles have. The pronounced boney structure tucks the hawks and eagles' eyes into shadow, giving them an intense and fierce look, not the "who me?" look that sometimes pops to mind when I look at an Osprey. (Click here for an older post that explains the supraorbital ridge and how it helps eagles and hawks.)

...and look at those talons! Who needs a supraorbital ridge when you have feet super strong and lethal...and specialized too. All four toes are the same length on an Osprey's foot, and the outer toe is reversible, almost like an opposable thumb, which helps the Osprey grasp fish. In addition, the pads of the Osprey's feet are very scaly and covered in spicules, or spines. These unique adaptations turn the Osprey into a fish hunting machine. Slippery fish rarely wiggle free once an Osprey has latched on, and an Osprey's capture rate of 40 percent (some studies show higher) exceeds the success ratio of other raptors.

"That's what I'm talking about..." says the majestic Osprey. In addition, an Osprey's talons are curved like fish hooks and are rounded, instead of grooved like other raptor's talons. Once more, uniquely adapting them to catching fish for a living.

City Osprey! This Osprey was eating his prey on top of the electric wires lining a fairly busy street that paralleled the ocean. He didn't care about trees and green leaves, he had the gulf sweeping out in front of him, and that's all that mattered...

Sources:
"Birds of Prey: Majestic Masters of the Skies," by Paul D. Frost
"Birds of Lake, Pond, and Marsh: Water and Wetland Birds of Eastern North America," by John Andrew Eastman

Also...John Briggs (Birding in Maine blog) recently posted a detailed entry on Ospreys. You might want to check it out for more info.

...this is a painting I did in December '09. I'm just including it here for reference because it clearly shows the supraorbital ridge above the American Bald Eagle's eye. The shadow cast by the overhanging boney structure is fun to paint...I love the power in that eye!

33 comments:

JKoenig said...

What a beautiful bird...Your pictures show such detail...They are wonderful just to look at...such a wonder of God's creation.

And, your eagle painting is awesome.

Busy Bee Suz said...

The Osprey's are just amazing creatures!
I love your Eagle watercolor too...you are so talented.

Steve Borichevsky said...

WOW!

Hilke Breder said...

Your photos of an osprey are so much than the ones I have been able to get!! I believe the osprey's black eye mask plays the same role at the orbital ridge in the eagle in that it too cuts down the glare, just like the athletes who put black paint on their cheeks- I guess.

Laure Ferlita said...

Hmmmm, I don't know....supraorbital ridge or not, he's looking pretty fierce in that 3rd photo down!

Very cool birds! Love the painting too!

Tammie Lee said...

How wonderful to get to see this bird each time. I got to see an osprey last week. They are large and wild beauties.

Your painting is wonderful. I am glad you are sharing them with us.

Chris said...

Wow breathtaking message Kelly... How perfect you got him, look at its beak and talons! Very impressive! The sharpness of the shots is also gorgeous and what about this painting! Wow a pure beauty!!! One day I'll have to cross the Atlantic. I'll have to wait for this volcano to calm down first

Tina said...

A nice post on the osprey..love your painting of the eagle. First time I've read a percentage on osprey versus fish or no fish..40% that's pretty high! Their ability to fish so well is why, I think, the two eagle couples are willing to co-exist on Sanibel Island...those ole lazy eagles just sit back and wait for the osprey to fish and they take it away from him! We saw it happen so many times while we were visiting!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
Once again, terrific photo's of the Osprey, then you show us another one of your great paintings, such a talented lady!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Fabulous, Kelly.... Both the pictures of the osprey and the painting of the eagle are terrific.... I especially love your eagle painting. WOW---you did a wonderful job.

Hugs,
Betsy

Carol Mattingly said...

Kelly, fantastic images. Just beautiful. I like the commentary too. Never seen an osprey. Maybe this year. Carol

Peg said...

Your Osprey photos are wonderful!
As is the Eagle painting.
A treat for the eyes.

Andy Wilson said...

Great, nice full framed photos! Art work is great too!

DK Miller said...

Wow! those photos are amazing. Great detail and an amazing bird. Beautiful watercolor as well.

Elaine said...

Such a beautiful bird and your photos are supurb. The eagle watercolor is fantastic too.

The Early Birder said...

Stunning and very detailed images of the Osprey. I have many memories of watching them and always admired their tenacity when fishing but not always hooking their prey. FAB

holdingmoments said...

Superb pictures Kelly. What a beautiful and expert fisherman they are. I'd love to see one of these.

Jayne said...

OH, he is so beautiful! Just yesterday, my sissy and I were down at a park on the TN River and were lucky to see two of them in flight. My photos were way far away, but I knew when I saw those underwings, it was Osprey!

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I enjoyed these close up views of the osprey. They are amazing birds. How nice to visit today and be treated to your photography and your painting!

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! Our Ospreys are all back for the season now. I've been going around checking the various nests that are usually occupied.

Allison said...

You never cease to amaze me. Great pics! And he does look surprised!

RuthieJ said...

Beautiful photos of the osprey Kelly. They aren't very common here in SE Minnesota, so I loved seeing your close-up pictures.

Cindy said...

Nice closeups, Kelly. Really gorgeous.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I love reading your posts, Kelly, even when I'm late. I always learn something, and I always enjoy your beautiful photos and paintings.

Roy said...

That a fabulous work Kelly, well done.

ShySongbird said...

Stunning photos of a most impressive bird Kelly! So much character in the face. Your painting is wonderful too.

You seem to get so close to your subject lately, do you care to share the secret with us?

Kelly said...

...Thanks, everyone! Florida makes it easy. I don't understand why, but the birds are just not timid or afraid. They don't seem to mind the humans running around beneath them. There is no way I could get this close to an Osprey here....thank goodness for Florida!!

dAwN said...

Excellent photos..whenever I want to be wowed I come over her to look at your photos and art!

Mary said...

I've never seen an Osprey...what an amazing bird!

E said...

Very interesting details, wonderful pictures, your art is great, Kelly, hugs.

Paula said...

Excellent shots of the Osprey!!!! Well done!

Robin Robinson said...

You could not possibly have captured more feather detail in those shots of the osprey! Well, unless I could see a few mites crawling around - now that would be detail! I like your painting very much, all of them. If I was wealthy and ahd a few miles of wall space, I'd buy them all. Do you suppose that osprey was hoping to maybe grill his catch on the tension wires? You know, fish on the barbie?

FalconRose Photography said...

Next to the bald eagle, my favorite has always been the osprey and it always looks like it's startled.

Caught one in mid flight staring down at my 600mm f/4 lens and I would have loved to know what it was thinking.

"It's a bazooka! YIPE!" - was my sons' and my general consensus.