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Old 11-16-2000, 09:04 PM
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RE:No coffee, but a rainbow at Whites

Osprey [Pandion Haliaetus]

Identification: The Osprey is a fairly large hawk, 21-24 inches in length, with long, pointed wings spanning 54 to 72 inches. The head, throat and undersides are white; the back, nape, tail and back of the head are dark brown. A black eye stripe is located behind the eye. Look for the conspicuous crook in the wing and the black "wrist" mark in flight to differentiate this bird from the Bald Eagle.

Range & Habitat: The Osprey is found throughout the world except for the polar regions. In Florida, it is commonly sighted along the coast and near large lakes and rivers.

Reproduction: Osprey occasionally nest in large colonies. A bulky nest of sticks and trash is placed on the ground, on ledges, in trees or on telephone poles and other manmade structures. More building material is added to the nest each year it is in use. The nest resembles a Bald Eagle's nest, but is not usually as large. Incubation of the clutch, usually 3 white, buff or pink eggs, by both parents takes about 35 days. Young fly between 8 and 10 weeks of age.

Diet: The Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish, but has been reported to include birds, turtles, snakes and small mammals.

Remarks: Osprey capture prey by striking the water after hovering 50-150 feet above the surface. This hawk has a reversible outer toe which can be rotated so that it extends to the rear of the foot. This facilitates fishing, as it permits the bird to use 2 strong hooked claws on either side of its prey. Unfortunately, Osprey have been persecuted by many fishermen who feared competition with these majestic birds. Hostile commercial fishermen have nailed fish to wooden boards and floated them in common Osprey areas, hoping to wipe out the bird's population. Such harassment is unwarranted because the Osprey eats mainly mullet and non-game fish of no commercial value. Eagles have also been known to harass Ospreys in flight, causing them to discard a recently captured fish. The eagle then pirates the fish and flies off.

Peregrine Falcon [Falco peregrinus]
Identification: The Peregrine Falcon is a crow-sized raptor, 15-21 inches long with a wingspread of about 40 inches. Sexes are similar, although the female is larger than the male. Adult birds are slate gray to blue gray on the back, with a dark cap over the head and a dark side burn extending through the eye. Young birds are dark brown above and heavily streaked below, with a facial pattern similar to adults. Peregrine Falcons have long, pointed wings, and in flight, give the impression of effortless power and speed.

Range & Habitat: This species is cosmopolitan, breeding on every continent except Antarctica. Florida has been an important wintering area for Peregrines. Florida's coastal areas provide optimum wintering habitat in regions where ducks, coots, gulls and herons are found in sloughs and scattered open ponds.

Reproduction: Peregrines usually prefer a cliff site for nesting, where a small depression is made for a nest. It will also nest in broken tops of tall trees and on window ledges of tall buildings. The female typically lays 2-4 cream or buff eggs in April, and does most of the incubation, typically a period of 33-35 days.

Diet: Peregrines are essentially bird hawks and will take most other smaller birds including waterfowl and songbirds. The hunting technique relies on spectacular "stoops," in which the birds fold their wings and go into a dive that ends with a midair strike. Depending on the size of the prey, they either grab hold with their talons, or knock the kill out of the air and descend to pluck and eat.

Remarks: The Peregrine Falcon was nearly exterminated from the use of DDT, a pesticide that causes eggshell thinning in many birds of prey. The species was listed as endangered in 1970 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It was subsequently given protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which was the first law in the U.S. to recognize the importance of preserving wildlife and habitats.

Individual Peregrines have been known to live 15 years and have experienced a comeback throughout U.S. cities, where they build nests on numerous building ledges. In Latin, Peregrinus means "wandering." Appropriately, this bird travels great distances during migration and can be found in almost all parts of the world.

Peregrine Falcons have been used for the sport of falconry at least since the Middle Ages. In those days the type of falcon an Englishman carried on his wrist marked his rank-the Peregrine was carried by an earl. Falconry, also known as hawking, is the art of training falcons to capture wild game or fowl for the hunter.
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