The Ospreys of Fluvanna County

By Stan Kaslusky
Amateur Wildlife Photographer

One of the joys of living in Fluvanna County is the abundance of wildlife that can be observed by those who pause and take it in.  Bird watchers have a real treat. E- Bird, a web site maintained by Cornell University, lists over 200 different species of birds that can be seen in Fluvanna throughout the year. One of my favorite sightings is the majestic osprey.

Pic A

Ospreys are common and can be found on every continent in the world with the exception of Antarctica. Their resurgence along with other raptors is part of the wonderful success story of eliminating the pesticide DDT from the environment. This pesticide was absorbed in the food chain and resulted in softening the eggs of raptors which gre

Pic B

Ospreys are the single largest raptor (hawks) capable of plunging into water feet first to catch its prey. Their diet consists almost totally of fish. The osprey has a greasy oily plumage that allows them to submerge up to one yard in the water when diving for a fish. This waterproofing and their long legs improve their success at being an aquatic hunter. Unlike many birds there are no distinctive marks to tell the males from the females. Our ospreys can be found at Lake Monticello at the fishing pond and the main lake. Ospreys also can be found along the Rivanna River and on the James. A good spot to sit and watch for an osprey at the lake are the beaches located in the coves. It is easier for the osprey to take a fish in shallow water rather than the deeper main lake though I have seen this happen. Beach 5 in Van Buren Cove is a good quiet spot to observe an osprey as he sits high in a perch and waiting to pounce on a fish. This majestic bird can be found throughout the county wherever water is found; look particularly for the dead trees on the water’s edge which make for a nice high perch.

Pic C

Ospreys have a striking white head which at first may make you think you’ve caught site of a bald eagle. Their bodies are brown and black and they have a distinct black/brown eye band which makes them look like they are wearing the mask of a bandit.  Their slender bodies are 21-24 inches in height and their wingspread can be up to 6 feet. Ospreys fly with a distinct kink in their wings and can make a distinctive “M” pose as they fly.

If you are lucky you may see the osprey flying in a circle over the lake or the river as he hunts for a fish. When they spot a fish near the surface they will hover briefly before diving feet first into the water.

Pic D

Ospreys appear each Spring around mid-May and stay with us through the fall. North Carolina seems to be the northern extent of their winter range but they can fly south as far as South America. Their presence in the county speaks to our abundance of fish and high water quality both at Lake Monticello and in our rivers. As an osprey fly’s off with their fish take a look at the position of their legs. They are the only raptor that has the ability to position their feet one in front of the other, pointing the fish’s nose facing forward. This reduces air resistance as they fly back to their perch.

Pic E

A fascinating behavior that I had the opportunity to witness here at the lake and on the James is the bald eagle stealing a fish from the osprey. Eagles will follow an osprey and body slam them mid-air to get them to release their fish. I’ve read that this is a common behavior. Our noble eagle is a pirate and a thief.  Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin disagreed with choosing the eagle as our national symbol because of this behavior. He much preferred the wild turkey which proudly stood its ground and charged intruders. Our loss was Virginia Tech’s gain. I digress…note the osprey holding the fish’s nose forward.

Pic F

Ospreys can be observed daily in season at the lake and on the James river…getting a picture by having a camera at hand at the right time is a treat. Photographing these birds requires a long telephoto lens with the range of 400 to 600mm and lots of patience. Look for them to be perching high in a dead tree observing the water. Often you will hear their shriek or whistle call.


Pic G

Enjoying them however does not require a camera. Sitting by the water’s edge, or paddling your kayak or canoe on a peaceful morning is one of the great pleasures of living here in the county. Nurturing your sense of wonder and appreciating God’s creation centers us and refuels our engines to take on the tasks of the week.  Next time you are out near the river or at the lake make sure to look for our wonderful ospreys.






Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138