Oscar the Osprey in Texas

Many birds of prey, also known as raptors, frequent Texas. Some are commonly observed while others are seen only rarely, but for the true bird enthusiast, any raptor sighting is exciting. One bird of prey that will always be at the top the list is the osprey.

They can be seen wintering along the Gulf Coast of Texas. On the migratory journey from north to south, many specimens annually take refuge in the same areas for periods of time. These spots are carefully selected for their hunting opportunities.

An article written by Allen Christensen, Director of San Angelo Nature Center, in the Austin American-Stateman describes the author’s special relationship with his Oscar the Osprey, who is a full-time Texas resident. What’s interesting about this osprey is that it remains year-round at the lake and has been there more than a decade.

“The melodic chirping of my friend is my favorite sound on Lake Travis. Oscar is a full-grown osprey that resides in the Lakeway section of the lake.  Ospreys are very territorial, and for several years I have enjoyed the sight of Oscar circling over my boat. Other times this fish hawk spies on me from a dead limb or a boat dock.

“Sometimes Oscar is very talkative and we chirp at each other for a while. Other hawk species and eagles scream and screech, so it always amazes me how pleasantly an osprey chirps like a song bird.

“It is always a good omen whenever I encounter Oscar on the prowl. The fish are more active when Oscar is soaring.  Catching fish will entertain Oscar also. Ospreys have extraordinary eyesight, and I’m sure they get a little jealous when they see us boating a fish.”

Ospreys are beautiful and distinctive in appearance.  They are large birds that can attain a body length of 2 feet with a wingspan up to 72 inches. One of the most distinctive features of this raptor is the mostly white head that is marked with a broad black mask that runs from the back corner of the eyes through the cheek area to the sides of the neck. The upper parts of the body and wings are a dark brown to nearly black, while the under parts of the body are solid white.

So, if you are in Texas (or Lakeway near Austin), be on the lookout for Oscar the osprey!

(Source: Austin American-Statesman)