Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

Osprey family of birds grab unexpected attention at World Championships in Eugene, Oregon

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A family of raptors are grabbing some unexpected attention during the World Athletic Championships currently taking place in Eugene, Oregon.

A nest of ospreys in Eugene have become the event’s unofficial mascots, according to Reuters.

There is no starting gun nor roar of the crowd that rouses the raptors from their home on a platform above the University of Oregon School of Law — which is visible to the crowd at the 10-day international meet in Eugene.

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Nevertheless, fans — as they take in the field events and sprint heats — have been delighting in watching the youngest in the nest flap its wings, thanks to footage displayed on the Hayward Field big screen, according to Reuters.

The fish caught by this osprey — as seen in this Feb. 2019 image — was likely a blue tang. The osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats live fish almost exclusively, according to The Cornell Lab.

The fish caught by this osprey — as seen in this Feb. 2019 image — was likely a blue tang. The osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats live fish almost exclusively, according to The Cornell Lab.
(Michiel Oversteegen/Caters News Agency )

Ospreys are very large, distinctively shaped hawks, according to The Cornell Lab and its website, All About Birds. 

Despite their large size, the birds’ bodies are slender, with long, narrow wings and long legs. 

“We were witnessing the baby bird practicing getting ready to fly. So it was really exciting.”

Ospreys fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an M-shape when seen from below, the site also noted.

“Watching the announcers and the fans cheer for the bird, learning to fly in the same way that they’re cheering for the athletes, running and jumping and throwing — yeah, I never would have predicted that, but it’s really fun,” Michael Moffitt, the Philip H. Knight Chair in Law at the University of Oregon, told Reuters.

An adult osprey flies with a fish in its talons in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, as seen in this 2010 photograph.

An adult osprey flies with a fish in its talons in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, as seen in this 2010 photograph.
(Reuters/Dan Riedlhuber)

The ospreys previously resided in the historic Hayward Field.

That is, until a 2014 incident prompted their relocation to the platform at the Knight Law Center.

“I could just appreciate the nature that was occurring.”

“We were witnessing the baby bird practicing getting ready to fly. So it was really exciting,” Shannon Dixon, 49, an IT worker from Oxnard, California, told Reuters.

“I could just appreciate the nature that was occurring.”

The 2022 World Athletics Championships, the eighteenth edition of the World Athletics Championships, are right now being held at Hayward Field in Eugene from July 15–24, 2022.

Hayward Field underwent extensive renovations beginning in 2018, with the project competed in 2020 — ahead of its hosting duties for the U.S. Olympic trials.

This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an osprey at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. 

This 2017 photo from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated camera shows an osprey at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. 
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

The Cornell Lab also notes this about the osprey: “Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming.” 

“Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming.” 

It continues, “These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Hunting ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.”

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In addition, The Cornell Lab points out that the osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats live fish almost exclusively.

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Reuters contributed reporting to this article. 



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