Osprey a fish-eating hawk

photo/E.H. Van Blaricom

Last month when I was taken on a ride to the Joseph Cemetery I spotted this osprey on her nest and luckily I had brought my camera, so I got this photo of a fish-eating hawk. She was standing on her recently built nest on the cross-arm of a power pole. As you can see, the nest is quite deep and is sloppily thrown using coarse sticks, tree bark and baling twine. I had never gotten a picture of an osprey before and I was surprised to see this nest so far away from a lake or stream. All of the nests I have seen were on dead trees right along a river bank.

These fish hawks feed only on fish, but they eat more of what we call trash fish than game fish such as trout and young salmon. However, one time when I backpacked into some lakes in the Cascade Mountains, I saw an osprey flying over me carrying a rainbow trout that was nearly 18 inches long. (Why couldn’t I catch one that big? Most of the trout I caught were less than 12 inches.) I presumed it was taking this beautiful rainbow to feed its young which were usually two to four chicks.

There are several osprey nests along the banks of the Grand Ronde River from Minam to Troy. Some are like eagle nests ... real deep and are used every year.

Ospreys can be found out west from Alaska and the Yukon clear down to Mexico. They have to migrate south when the lakes and streams get covered with ice. They are able to catch fish that are near the surface by diving feet-first onto their prey. It doesn’t matter how slippery a fish is ... once they get hooked by the extremely sharp talons of these fish hawks they will never be “the one that got away.”

I was very pleased to get this photo and I will go back there in about a month to see if her chicks have hatched.

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