September 1, 2017

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Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

The Osprey is a raptor sometimes called “Fish Hawk” since its diet is almost exclusively fish. Unlike most other birds of prey, the Osprey actively searches for live fish living close to the water’s surface.  Because they are buoyant, Osprey can only dive to a depth of about three feet, meaning they mostly hunt over shallow bodies of water. Osprey nest in large stick nests on all the continents except Antarctica, and on the Chico they migrate here during both spring and fall but do not nest here. Yesterday, this Osprey hunted over Upper Twin Pond and was successful in its first attempt. Ospreys have long wings allowing them to migrate over large bodies of water and over deserts without depending on thermals like other migrant raptors. While hunting, Osprey flap their wings, hovering in place until they begin a spectacular dive, tucking their wings and when needed twisting in air before entering the water feet first. Osprey plumage is oily in nature helping to keep their feathers somewhat dry.  After capturing a fish, an Osprey will fly to a tree perch carrying the fish in its talons. It then waits for the fish to die before eating it.  During this time their feathers begin to dry and when its prey item is dead it is eaten starting at the head.

This composite image shows an Osprey diving and emerging from the water with a fish.

Osprey with his lunch.

Photography by Bill Maynard