Ospreys: The Revival of a Global Raptor

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JHU Press, Mar 19, 2019 - Science - 220 pages

Ospreys are one of the few bird species that are found throughout the world. From forests in Hokkaido to rivers in Oregon and islands off Australia, Ospreys steal the show as nature lovers easily watch them build their massive nests and tend to their young. The fact that the Osprey is one of the few large birds that can hover adds to its mystique, and to watch it plunge into the water, emerging with a fish clutched in its talons, is truly a sight one will remember.

As widespread as Ospreys are, not long ago they were under threat of extinction. During the 1950s and '60s, scientists tied the decline of Osprey populations to the heavy use of DDT and other human pollutants. In the 1980s, Ospreys began a slow recovery due to the efforts of conservationists and through the resilience of the adaptable raptors themselves. Today they are again considered common in most parts of the world, although some populations remain threatened.

In this gorgeously illustrated book, Alan F. Poole, one of America's premier Osprey experts, has written a lyrical exposť of these majestic creatures, describing their daily habits and exploring their relationship with the environment. Ospreys celebrates the species' miraculous recovery from contaminants and hunters, chronicles their spectacular long-distance migrations, and unveils their vital role in bringing life to coastal habitats. Few other birds have such a hold on the human imagination. This book shows us why.

 

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Alan Poole's Triumphant Story of a Triumphant, High-Profile Fisherbird:
In July of 1969, osprey lover Roger Tory Peterson penned an article for National Geographic Magazine: "The Osprey, Endangered
World Citizen". The DDT era was nearing an end, and ospreys--showing severe decline--were prime scientific evidence of DDT's toxic effects. 50 years later, Dr. Alan Poole of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology celebrates the osprey's recovery and triumph as an avian world citizen; now studied, protected, and beloved over much of our planet. Alan's lifelong pursuit of ospreys, and his warm collegial friendships with other osprey students, are celebrated in this accessible book--which is both a personal testament and an authoritative scientific account.
Alan writes about the broad range of worldwide studies that have built our detailed understanding of osprey life history and local ecology. He also teaches osprey behavior with diverse, beautiful images from an array of talented photographers, and artwork by Julie Zickefoose. Ospreys' world range and accessibility, even domesticity at some nest sites close to man, means The Osprey Experience can be shared by scientists and naturalists alike--by all of us. Both Alan and I found ospreys to be a perfect "graduate student bird" as beginning ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Many others have followed over the last 40 years: An example of shared learning and appreciation as "The Bread of Life Here on Earth". This dynamic, splashy fisherbird opens up habitats, ecosystems, and food-chains (such as ospreys' bioindicator dependence on Atlantic Menhaden at some key eastern nest colonies) to our understanding, and to positive "Celebratory Ecology". Alan's detailed explanations and shared enjoyment give us countless entrees to the osprey's world. In a time of failing environmental leadership in high offices, this book satisfies my longing for scientific and aesthetic reality, direction, commitment, and drive.
Paul R. Spitzer, osprey biology PhD 1980 Cornell; now Choptank River, Maryland Eastern Shore
 

Contents

This Famed Bird
1
Two A Hawk That Fishes
9
Three The Geography of Ospreys
27
Four Finding Food
58
Five At the Nest
79
Incredible Journeys
106
Seven Threats and Solutions
143
Eight Looking Ahead
168
Bibliography
187
Index
195
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About the author (2019)

Alan F. Poole, an associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is the former editor of the Birds of North America life history series. He has been studying New England Ospreys for over 35 years.

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