Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fly like an osprey

One of the sounds of summer around here is the distinctive call of ospreys. Quite often it heralds the return of a parent, fresh catch in its claws, to the shrieking nest. The nest at the Oceanographic Institution is outfitted with a great video camera, so even from home you can check in on the fledglings over the course of the summer.

But now fall is in the air and all the ospreys and their fledglings have disappeared. They're off on incredible solo flights to their wintering grounds in South America. Rob Bierregaard, a scientist who helped engineer the local osprey comeback (after their decimation from DDT in the 1960s), is now involved in a study that satellite tags young birds to see exactly where they go.

The 2008 migration is already astonishing. One young female, Penelope, left the Vineyard at the beginning of September and traveled in a straight shot down the East Coast to North Carolina, headed out over the sea, past the Bahamas, and is already soaking up the sun in Venezuela! That was 2,700 miles in only 13 days, taking no days off. Other birds, like Meadow, got a little sidetracked. She's been exploring the great lakes and it's yet to be seen whether she gets on board with this southern migration thing...

1 comment:

Sara Jaye Sanford said...

Depending on how this election goes, I might just follow Meadow to Canada.