I first became interested in ospreys after reading David Gessner’s book, Return of the Osprey. I was born on Cape Cod yet I had never really paid much attention to these amazing birds up until then.
Yet they were here all the time.
Feeding largely on fish, hence the name “fish hawks”, ospreys are the only raptors who hover with rapidly beating “M-shaped” wings over shallow waters; diving down at 40 mph and at the last second plunging feet first into the water to snatch their prey and carry it back to the nest.
And speaking of nests, adults mate for life and often return to the same nest year after year. These nests would never make it into House Beautiful yet I love them for their haphazard-looking piles of sticks, mud, sod and grass. Male and female build the nest together at the tops of telephone poles, channel markers, microwave towers and dead trees, but it is the female who clearly has the final say as to what goes where.
It is always such an exciting time when the young ospreys are ready to fly and this past week the fledgling activity reached a fevered pitch. It is a chapter in an osprey’s life that is unlike anything else and it all unfolds right before our eyes.
The magical day was at hand and as I got out of the car I could hear them off in the distance long before I spotted a single bird; their high-pitched, quivering whistles piercing the air.
I scanned the marsh for signs of movement.
And loud discussions about who was supposed to be flying where, and when and with whom.
What does it feel like to suddenly lift up, to feel the power of an air current, to look down at what lies below…
I learn a little something from the ospreys every year. This year I believe they have taught me about facing the task that is at hand, no matter how daunting it may be. They have taught me about having the courage to take wing with purpose, believing that I am equipped with all that I need to navigate each twist and turn and to deal straight on with whatever comes.
And the reward is the incredible joy of flying!
I am so glad that the ospreys survived and that we get to watch them every summer. I only hope that in my own life I can be as brave and bold as these glorious birds who inspire me simply by being who and what they are.