Osprey Sighted at SMC Bundy Campus

Yes, it is autumn! On Monday, at 8:44:18 A.M. PDT, the sun crossed the north - south celestial equator and autumn officially began in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are many signs that autumn has arrived: no, not just USC kicking butt or UCLA getting their butts kicked. The signs are in the air.

We have a new guest at SMC Bundy campus. She is quite a gal. She's been spotted perched on the third and fourth ledges of the building. She is an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), one of most majestic raptors in North America. These beautiful birds periodically take a hiatus on their 850 mile migration from the Pacific Northwest to the Pacific and Gulf Coasts of Mexico.

On average, ospreys begin their migration south in late August or early September. Some fly straight through. Others, like our guest, stay in an area for a short time presumably to rest or because there is food, which consist of fish, and more fish. An osprey's diet is 99% fish.

The osprey is a large bird weighing from 2.5-4.5 pounds and a wingspan of 56 inches. The adult male and female look very similar except the female often has "necklace" plumage, while the male has a noticeably white breast.

Ospreys are found on every continent except Antarctica. Their nests are always found high above ground and they gladly use man-made monuments. "The ospreys that nest in Willamette Valley [North West Oregon] are often found on power poles. Those on the Columbia River [Oregon - Washington border] nest on channel markers thanks to USCG (US Coast Guard) efforts." said Jim Kaiser of The Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey Forest & Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center.

Ospreys mate for life and return to the same nest every year. Some live for up to 25 years.

Sadly, their population decreased dramatically between the 1950s and 1970s due to DDT and other toxic chemicals. These pollutants caused their egg shells to become so thin that the mother's weight cracked them during incubation. But they are a resilient species.

"They have made a tremendous rebound since the band of DDT. This is truly a success story." said Kaiser. He further said "They are an indicator species which reflect the health of our environment."

If you want to learn more about ospreys you can visit ospreyworld.com/or http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/fs/fs-153-02.pdf.