By: Michael Thompson
Date: July 14, 2000
If the scientific name of this magnificent local bird suggests “bad breath”, perhaps it is due to its diet which consists almost entirely of fish! In fact, its unusual adaptation to this menu relates to the peculiar configuration of its feet (long sharp talons, a reversible toe, and sharp arrays of specules on the sole), all of which assist in gripping its prey. Consequently, it is the only member of its family Pandionidae.
Ospreys are found locally at places such as Lost Lake (west end) and near Green Lake (south end). Whistler’s Carol Fuegi took the above photo south of Whistler. A nesting pair can be seen atop a tall conifer from a viewpoint on the Valley Trail near “Fisherman’s Loop”.
Ospreys are not hard to identify with their dark brown backs and eyestripes, white heads and underparts, and long narrow wings which bend back from the “wrist” in flight. Wingspreads are more than double the body length, and have been recorded up to 180 centimetres. They are smaller than a Bald Eagle but larger than a typical Whistler Hawk. The female is bigger than the male, and nests while the male fishes. They are relatively long-lived with at least one individual recorded as lasting 35 years.
Ospreys migrate to South America and return to the same nest year after year, until the structure falls off the tree and must be replaced! While in use, they are constantly being repaired; in fact, the nature walk on June 14 saw the male returning home trailing a long bulrush.
In the event you have anything in your wallet, you can see another picture of an Osprey on a $10 bill.