Ospreys At Hatchet Caye
The osprey is a majestic bird of prey found throughout the world – almost everywhere there is water and an adequate food supply, these fish eagles may be found, so-called because they feed almost exclusively on fish. Their bodies are specialized for hunting and snatching unsuspecting prey right out of the water! They are very large birds, growing more than 2 feet in height, and possessing a wingspan of almost 6 feet.
The osprey has been revered in many cultures; they have been depicted in Greek mythology, for instance – Nisos, the king of Megara, was said to have the ability to transform into an osprey. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder also penned his belief that parent ospreys made their young fly into the sun as a means of testing them. He may have drawn this conclusion from the raptor’s seeming ability to fly directly into the sun; they have highly flexible, specialized joints which enable them to twist their bodies in such a way that their eyes are directed away from the sunlight and they are therefore able to avoid any discomfort or injury. Flying against the sun makes them undetectable to their prey on the ground or in the water – their keen eyes can spot prey from miles away, and they can swoop down upon them with astonishing velocity, agility, and accuracy. The superior fishing ability of the osprey was referenced by Shakespeare in his play Conolaus, in which he alludes to the belief that fish were so mesmerized by and fearful of the osprey that when they saw them they would turn belly-up in the water in surrender.
Hatchet Caye is no exception to the worldwide occurrence of these birds – we have a healthy population of ospreys on our island. These birds nest in pairs and raise a brood of chicks every year; once a pair of adults mates, they are known to remain together for life. The parents will take turns taking care of the chicks when they hatch – one will hunt for food while the other watches the nest. Until the young learns how to chew their own food they will feed on food matter first chewed by their parents. Ospreys are extremely protective of their nesting territory – they can often be seen chasing away pelicans, herons, and other large birds that innocently stray too close to their nests. Their true enemies are frigate birds, which oftentimes try to steal food from them or prey on their chicks. The young take about 3 to 4 years to reach sexual maturity and will often remain with their parents until they are ready to begin nesting on their own; therefore, it’s not unusual to see ospreys almost as grown as their parents still residing in the nests they were hatched in. The typical lifespan of an osprey is 7-10 years, although some individuals have been known to live up to 25 years.
Ospreys are not afraid of humans and will often nest near inhabited areas. These elegant raptors can be seen every day at Hatchet Caye, perched atop their lofty nests, their fierce gaze fixed on fish in the ocean or on other birds that get too close. One of our resident osprey families has just had a new brood of chicks – it’s fun to watch them play with and feed their excitable offspring!
They are one of the attractions you’ll find when you visit our island resort – the sight of them soaring through the air and effortlessly snatching up fish from the sea may well inspire you to take up a fishing rod and nab a fish or two yourself!
Contact us today at Hatchet Caye to learn more about booking a stay on our island haven and seeing these fascinating birds in action!< Back