Photo credits: Dan Lory

Welcome to the latest edition of a new regular fixture of the COS blog. We're proud to present the thoughts, insights and pictures of Chicago birder, Dan Lory on birds of the Chicago region. Enjoy!

Recently, a Florida friend posted a short video of an Osprey hovering over its nest, so I'm thinking Osprey this week.

Like the Bald Eagle and other large raptors, the Osprey is a captivating bird to watch, even for folks who aren't really into birds. Dark above, white below, with a wingspan of over 5 feet, they are a majestic bird, soaring high over open water.

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When they spot a fish near the surface, they will hover in one spot, gradually dropping lower and lower, until finally making a high-speed dive toward the water. At the last second, they pull up and splash into the water feet first, talons extended. And up they come, almost always with... nothing. The books say that their success rate is really not that great, and my observations agree. Every time I've watched an Osprey hover, and I get ready for a dive-bomb action shot, it has come up empty-handed. Then the one-time-in-ten when I'm not ready, and miss the dive, it's a success. The best I've managed is a carrying-the-fish-away shot. 

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So there you have it, scientific validation at its purest.

Floridians are lucky; they can enjoy these majestic birds year-round. Here in the Chicago area we can see them spring, summer and fall.