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Doubling Ospreys
Ed Mirsky | Hoska Drive

Juvenile osprey at San Dieguito Lagoon. Photo Paul Haydu.

Click on photo to enlarge.

Ospreys are special among North American hawks in that their diet consists almost entirely of fish—probably 99 percent. Their fish eating diet is supported by a suite of adaptations: long legs to reach into the water; a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes facing forward and two facing back; long sharp claws; barbed footpads; oily plumage that keeps them from getting waterlogged; valves that keep water out of their nostrils when they dive for fish; and the ability to orient a fish while in flight so that the fish’s head faces forward to minimize wind resistance.

Ospreys live on every continent wherever there are rivers, bays, lakes, or seacoasts for fishing except Antarctica. Those living in North America migrate to South America, but they do not breed there. However, we are fortunate to have ospreys year round in Southern California. And they may be seen fishing at San Dieguito Lagoon, and nesting on the two platforms built for them in 2014 on the south side of Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

Dustin Fuller of the 22nd DAA reports that in 2014 there were two pairs of ospreys at the lagoon that produced two chicks. Only one of the chicks was fit to fly. The other two died of natural causes. In 2015 there was one pair of osprey that fledged two chicks. Ospreys built nests on the light towers at the Fairgrounds in 2013, and possibly before.

As a result, in 2015, there were four and in 2014 there were six ospreys at the lagoon. Survey data summarized by Steve Schroeter of the UCSB Marine Science Institute show that there were two ospreys at the lagoon from 2001 to 2013. In late 2013 there were four ospreys. This suggests that a second pair of ospreys were residents at the lagoon. But remember, they may be tourists from Canada on their annual migration.

Before I forget, felicitaciones to the Ospreys - and may they have many more.


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