Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Coastal BC Birds: Osprey


Wayne and I took our tin boat over to Chippewa Bay to meet our good friend John for a swim. John likes to swim in Chippewa because the water is warm(er) at the head of the wide bay. Because Powell Lake has been dammed, the water level has risen and submerged trees have become tall snags. On top of one snag is an osprey nest. As we were passing, we were surprised to see a mother bird take flight. We carefully backed away and sat quietly to observe the nest and her actions.

First she flew to a nearby snag and called her displeasure. Then she returned to the nest. Later she departed again. At first we weren't sure why, but then it was obvious. She rose high in the air and then made a running dive right to the water. At the last moment she pulled up and grabbed a fish in her talons. What a sight!

At one time, osprey numbers were declining, but fortunately they have made a comeback since the 70's. There are two nests that I know of on Powell Lake and another in the backwater area of Lois Lake. According to Birds of North America (National Geographic, 2006), the osprey can be identified by the distinctive colouring of dark brown above and white below, with a white head. It builds nests of sticks high in trees, poles, platforms and decks that are near fresh or salt water. Their diet is primarily fish.

We discovered one memorable osprey nest when we flew to the Dene First Nation village of Lutsel K'e on Great Slave Lake. You can read about it in Wayne's book Up the Airway. That particular osprey built her nest on top of the ADF (automatic direction finder) antennae at the airport. That essentially put the simple, but very important, piece of navigation equipment out of action until the chicks could fly. Good for chicks, hard on pilots. -- Margy

1 comment:

  1. We saw the same nest and Osprey no too long ago but she did not make too much of a fuss when we got close. She may not have been a mom yet..


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy