Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Feb. 1, 2007)
Wildlife at the Shore
The full moon shone in a clear, starred sky as the moonlight fell on waves, boiling
and rolling one over the other, topped in silver, like mercury spilling onto slabs
of marble, then into thin sheets of smooth, curving, mirrors reflecting the
|Drawing by Karen Mitchell
Sandpipers in silhouette ran huddled together in groups back and forth along the
shore skipping over fluorescent sea foam. White, powder sand appeared rippled in
steel gray shadows, blurring and blending with a rising mist moving inland.
A midnight moon-shadow followed behind me mysteriously with each of my steps, as
white ghost-crabs scuttled in front of me, left and right, pretending to be
invisible. Further up the coast a family of raccoons chortled to one another while
searching through overflowing garbage containers.
An osprey swooped, dived and plunged, feet first, into the deep sea retrieving a
prize fish that seemed too large for him to carry. A weathered, smoothed trunk,
leafless tree, provided a perfect perch for the loud, raucous bird.
After discarding the head and tail of the fish, he held the body with one claw.
Equipped with sharp talons the osprey pulled at the bright red meat with his hooked
bill. Boat-tailed grackles hid in the bushes waiting for the fallen leftovers. The
family of raccoons was not far behind.
The osprey, commonly known as the fish hawk, is a large (4- to 6-foot wing spread)
brown bird, with bright golden eyes. Ospreys have white heads, which sometimes
causes them to be mistaken for the bald eagle, but the osprey has a black stripe
that extends to the back of his head, across the eye ending in a large black patch
upon its cheek. The eagles head is all white. Osprey males are white below,
but females are darkly streaked on the upper breast. National Geographic
Field Guide to Birds of North America (1987).
In flight the ospreys glide overhead revealing dark wrist patches on their wings.
You may observe ospreys in a variety of habitats since they have made a comeback
from their serious decline due to pesticides such as DDT.
These adaptable creatures, preferring dead trees near open fresh or salt water,
also make their nests on top of human built platforms along highways and lamp
posts. Ive often found them atop high school, sports lighting facilities,
where once again humans have accommodated them with wooden platforms.
This is a clear example of why it is the osprey that should be given credit for
its determination to live with humanity rather than in spite of us.
With our ceaseless need to consume and alter our planet, the osprey has adapted to
many of these alterations. In very cleaver ways the osprey has managed to keep
itself from becoming threatened or worse: extinct.
Humankind could afford to take a lesson or two from this clever bird. We also must
adjust and accept our changing times. Like the osprey, our adaptability may be the
very set of skills we will need to call upon to save our own species as well, our
back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.