Monday, May 22, 2006

Into the Abyss

Time and circumstance have not allowed me to pay attention to a certain pressing matter. I did, however, discover one way to distinguish osprey from ospring from a great distance.

When osprey decide it is time to take wing they simply take a little hop into the air, beat their wings a time or three, and off they go. When ospring decide to leave the nest they point their beak earthward and dive... hurtling downwardfor a few moments and finally swoop out of the dive, make a beat or two of their wings, and fly off.

I wonder how long it takes them to learn those wonderful circling maneuvers?


buddy larsen said...

Nice post--reminded of the awed fascination of watching slow-motion film of predator birds maneuvering--how a hawk or an owl can aerobat the last few feet of drop--at high speed and with a ground collision an instant away--to adjust to a darting direction-changing prey and get a talon on it and then beat that lifting zoom back up into the air. Makes ya wonder.

Syl said...

Excellent observation.

I suppose they eventually learn the right maneuvers by observing their parents and possibly their parents do train them. That is if they are anything like crows.

A few years ago I stopped at a gas station. The guy filling my tank seemed distracted and wasn't watching what he was doing. He showed me what it was that he was interested in.

For the last few hours there was a family of crows with the parents teaching the two young ones how to land on the tip of a pole. One parent on the pole, other and two young ones on a billboard.

Caws from the pole. One young one would fly to the pole in an attempt to unseat the parent. If his angle wasn't quite right, he'd flutter and fly back to the billboard. Caws again and another attempt. Angle right, feet perfectly placed at height of pole tip, parent crow flys to billboard and young one now on pole.

Other parent flys to pole, unseats young one who flies back to billboard.

Other young one attempts flight to pole.

Rinse. Repeat.

I stood there and watched with the attendant for quite a bit until another customer came along and I got back in the car and drove off.

Knucklehead said...

The yute's flying skills are quite crude compared to mom and dad. He works much harder, can't seem to maintain a straight line or particular altitude, and as far as I can tell may find getting back up to the nest a bit challenging.

The turkey buzzards are milling around again and we seem to have spotted some more head bobbing type activity in the nest. Junior was staggering around nearby so it twarn't him. Coulda been Mom cleaning house - I've spotted her pushing stuff out of the nest a couple times. Perhaps another ospring is getting ready for the Big Leap in another day or two.

I have no idea if it is related to Launching Junior because we had some pretty foul weather for a couple days prior to when I first noticed the parental coaxing but for a few days the nest was very untidy looking - disheveled to say the least. All is back in order for the moment.

I know you're all on the edge of your seats waiting for Knucklehead's Osprey Reports.

Ed onWestSlope said...

They learn to fly with less mishaps and more grace than when I learned to walk, if my Mother is to be believed.

And then when I remember learning to ride a bike ....

The Lord's creation is astounding.

buddy larsen said...

I've got a little house spider on my desk. It has built itself a webby contraption of some sort under the overhang of a bigger book atop a smaller. I've been watching the little guy for a week now. So yes, some of us ARE easily entertained!

Knucklehead said...


And the fishing types manage that with the optical offset and having to grab something just below the surface.

I once saw a some documentary that looked at the lighter side. They showed birds screwing up. Albatross are apparently quite clumsy.

buddy larsen said...

Ha--figures--being albatosses and all--

Rick Ballard said...

Thanks for the update Knuck. It's good to know that Ospring I has achieved, if not lift off, at least dive down and return. Now it's just a matter of him/her getting to the gym every day and developing those pecs until all the flapping achieves its intended effect.

One of the funnier (at least to me) nature moments that I have witnessed was a young bald eagle who grabbed a baby salmon (maybe 1 - 1 1/2 lbs.) quite nicely and then couldn't gain altitude to get to its favorite tree perch. It wouldn't let go and it's beach landing wasn't exactly a feat of aerial art. In fact, it did a Three Stooges face plant and squawked about it quite noisily for a bit afterwards.

It did eat the fish though, which was the point of the exercise.

Knucklehead said...


I would have sacrificed my binoculars to see that!