The Osprey — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, This Osprey is a common sight soaring over the shoreline of Lake Mendota or watching the water from a high perch on a dead tree. The Osprey population has rebounded in North America and they do well around humans. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons. Mike Bailey has masterfully captured this elegant bird, carrying a fish to a favorite perch. Ospreys can grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds' feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.
While the Lake is one of the hunting waters of this regular visitor to the Preserve, we do not know where it builds its nest. Ospreys have a cosmopolitan range, and this one could nest as far away as a cell phone tower off Fish Hatchery Road just east of the Madison Newspapers building, where Mike Bailey has spotted a nest. See also All About Birds
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors