There was a time, not so long ago, when the osprey, or fish hawk, was a common sight along the New England shore. Taking up residence in tall trees that commanded a wide view of sea and sky, the osprey summered along the Atlantic coast, migrating far south to Brazil when the weather turned cold, returning north to nest year after year. That ancient cycle was cut short when DDT-based pesticides entered the ospreys' food chain and caused a perilous decline in their numbers. In time, thanks to the efforts of writer-conservationist Rachel Carson and the lawyers and scientists of the newly founded Environmental Defense Fund, the use of DDT was banned throughout the United States, but its effect on the ospreys endured long afterward.
David Gessner, an able chronicler of the natural world, here recounts the slow reintroduction of the fish hawk to Cape Cod. He offers learned but lightly spun information on their natural history and behavior, matching what he has read to what he has seen as a close observer of these birds in the wild. (He wryly notes, "Sometimes sitting out on the marsh for hours on end is simply boring"--but entirely necessary.) Gessner's memoir documents the fortunes of a single species and celebrates the virtues of committing to a single place, a commitment that, he writes, "the modern world works against." It's a welcome addition to the natural history of raptors and of New England alike. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Imagine a fish hawk, its six-foot-wide black and white banded wings backstroking 40 to 100 feet above coastal waters. In a flash of feathers, it hurtles 80 miles per hour headlong toward its prey. Then, in a moment of near suspension, it reverses to dive completely beneath the waves, talons first. Usually it emerges with a wriggling meal, adjusts the fish to the most aerodynamically efficient position and returns to its high perch to share a meal with mate and nestlings. In search of such moments, Gessner (A Wild, Rank Place) explores the salt marshes near his Cape Cod home. In this chronicle of a spring and summer breeding season among four mated pairs of osprey, the author crafts a naturalist's jewel. Kayaking through brackish waters at the ocean's edge, he details life among diverse shore birds and other littoral creatures. Peopling the tale with noted avian authorities, family, friends and local fishermen, he supplements his own seamless writing with citations from his wide reading. After 15 million years of evolution, the osprey ranks high on the seaside food chain. It was nearly decimated in recent decades by DDT-poisoned plankton, nourishment for the herring and other fish this coastal raptor exclusively feeds upon. Now, as it returns to habitats long left vacant, it reoccupies its former ecological niche. Through textured anecdotes and graphic details, Gessner provides insights into the life and history of this great sea bird of prey that will delight both the committed birder and the general reader. BOMC Selection. (Mar. 30)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I am on my third reading and I know I will continue to keep reading it forever.Published 2 months ago by Norman Davis
Don't miss this read even if you are not a 'get outside' naturalist, just an armchair one - it's that good. Mr. Read morePublished 8 months ago by William D. Brisbane
This was a gift for a friend who loves Ospreys and wanted to know more about their nesting habits.Published 12 months ago by Carrie Liller
I read this book after reading "Soaring With Fidel" and it was filled with information that I never knew about ospreys, plus a good read and entertaining all at the same... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Robert F Slater
Purchased the book to learn more about Ospreys and it meets my expectations...The author's approach to meld in his life makes it interesting from a personal standpoint too but he... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Phil Harvey
"Return of the Osprey" is a beautifully and sensitively written book. My only comment is that the author presents a particularly male interpretation. Read morePublished 23 months ago by A. Frost
I should have relied on michaeleve's review.
We live on a sound on the Outer Banks and erected a nesting box, perhaps 50 feet from our dock, this March. Read more