It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s …

It’s NOT a great blue heron!

The herons have allowed a guest bird in their blog today, an osprey. What fun!

Young osprey perched amid pinecones.

Young osprey perched amid pinecones.

There are several osprey at the lake, and I’ve been watching the one shown in this post since 2009. This osprey can be found perching in several specific trees throughout the day, and in Autumn it seems to follow the sunlight around the lake. The tall pine in the photo above is a good afternoon spot, where it can bask in the warming sun on a chilly day.

This osprey is very curious and frequently makes direct fly-overs of my kayak, perhaps to see if I have any fish – I don’t – or just because of some other bird reason unknown to man. On many occasions, it has landed on the limbs of a tree directly above my kayak while I’ve been snugged against the shore relaxing.

Osprey taking off.

Osprey taking off from a perch high in a dead pine.

A favorite morning spot for this osprey is a tall, dead pine where it can perch high up with an unobstructed view of two coves, the channel, and one of the tunnels.

Early one day, when I was settled against the shore underneath that tree, photographing a great blue heron across the way, a large shadow passed overhead. I took the camera away from my eye and looked up to see the osprey landing in the tree directly above me. It perched there for a while, and I resumed photographing the heron.

The tree is across from a place that has been a favorite fishing spot for the herons over the years. I’ve seen the herons catch some very large trout and bass and sunfish there. Maybe the osprey watching the herons fishing there is on the lookout for any fish that escape the heron’s bills? With their keen eyesight, the osprey could easily track any that get away and swoop in for the kill. Perhaps it’s a symbiotic relationship between osprey and heron. That’s my story theory and I’m sticking to it.

Another osprey that has the southern end of the lake for territory also does the same thing – whenever I’m paddling there, the osprey approaches directly overhead as if to check things out. Maybe they recognize my boat after all these years? I always wear the exact same colors for each outing, so perhaps that makes me memorable to them.

Whatever the reason for the ospreys’ curiousity, I love their presence.


Thanks to the kind folks at Skywatch Friday.

Thanks also to Ailsa and WordPress for the Travel Theme: Height challenge.

Thanks again to Prairiebirder Charlotte for her Feathers on Friday prompt.

And thanks once more to Michelle for the Weekly Pet Challenge Roundup nudge.


(The photos here were taken October, 2009 and August, 2013)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on October 11, 2013, in ardea herodias, Bird photography, daily prompt, Feathers on Friday, Great Blue Heron, Nature Photography, Osprey, postaday, Skywatch Friday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Weekly Travel Themes, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. That is one fierce-looking bird! Have you seen them flying with fish in talons? They actually hold the fish with its head pointing front, face-first. Thanks for sharing your great shots 🙂

    • Glad you like this one. Aren’t they amazing when they fly carrying fish? Also, one cool thing about osprey is that during nesting season, the mate of the osprey that is incubating the eggs brings back fish to the nest for her. He will bring half of the fish to her, and only keep half for himself. Is that romantic or what? Thanks for your kind words here again!

  2. Both shots are awsome. In the top one, the Osprey looks quite regal. In the second one, that I wish I could see enlarged, the composition is just fantastic. You have positioned the bird perfectly in the frame. Wonderful.

    • Thanks for your generous comment, Bob! In the top photo, the pinecones were coated with that super-resinous sap that pines get in some years, and so they caught the light. You’re right – the osprey does look regal, as though it is lord & master of that area. It was just a youngster that year. Thanks for the compliment about the composition of the smaller, bottom photo. I’m typing this on android and so can’t access a larger version of that to share from here. Maybe another day, though. Best, Babs

  3. Well, I can’t confirm or deny your theory as to osprey watching herons hoping to catch fish that escape the herons, but it sounds somewhat plausible.

    I do know that raptors learn to recognize humans, and you don’t have to wear the same color clothes for them to recognize you. On weekdays, I walk the same area every day. At the last place I lived, after three years of walking, I had both red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks that not only would allow me to follow them as they hunted, but would bring prey back to trees that I stood under to eat the prey while I photographed them. The hawks knew I was there, that didn’t matter to them.

    • Thanks, I love that the hawks would bring their prey back to where you were, and that they “trusted” you – or else deemed you not a threat to them. I have had similar experiences with three different Red Tailed Hawks, in one instance the hawk flew so low and close carrying its dinner that I instinctively had to duck. Unfortunately, the state deemed its perching tree a menace and sawed it down, and the new tree that hawk favors isn’t easily seen or photographed.

      I didn’t know about the color of clothing not mattering, but I’m happpy to hear that! I have a dozen or so matching birding shirts, and had I known that, I wouldn’t have bought the last few. Live and learn! Thanks again for your kind comment and visiting here. Best, Babsje

      • Think of it this way, since a hawk’s eyes are good enough to spot a mouse in the grass 100 yards away, their eyes are good enough to recognize human facial features. What impressed me was that they have the memory to remember people. But, I believe that’s true of many species of birds from what I’ve seen.

        • You’re right, very good observation! I’ve heard that a great blue heron’s visual acuity is on a par with that of the hawk’s, so not. surprising that they, too, recognize individual people. The question of how good their long-term memory is fascinates me – for both hawks and herons – along with how they “learn” from their experiences.

  4. What a great photo op. Excellent!

  5. I love the “guest bird!” What a perfect photo – the pine cones look like hanging fruit. Lucky you to be able to see these beautiful birds. At this time of year we will see the white pelicans come and spend the winter with us. They are so laid back! And thanks for the recent like for one of my posts.

    • You’re welcome for the recent “like” any hanks for your kind comment here! You’re fortunate to have the white pelicans there, they look so graceful in flight, despite their ungainly bills, don’t they? I’m glad you like the “guest bird” concept, too.

  6. Beautiful shot of the osprey.

  7. What a gorgeous capture, sitting up there in the pine tree! Definitely looks powerful!

  8. In the first photo the Osprey looks like a baby because of the fluffy front. In the 2nd photo he looks massive. The wing span is incredible. Would you say it’s a male????
    Love the barren tree its chosen to perch on.

    • You’re correct – the osprey in the first photo is a juvenile. You have a good eye! The coloring of the feather necklace at the top of its chest is also a clue. I do think this one is a male, although I think that females are larger than males, same as with red tailed hawks for example. Thanks again for visiting and commenting.

  9. That’s a super picture of the Osprey amongst the pinecones.

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