National Geographic : 1969 Jul
fossil record to date shows us no ancient near relatives either, no ospreylike birds prior to the Pleistocene, the Ice Age. Expert Fisherman on the Wing Of all the birds that fish, the osprey is the master technician. Recently I watched one at work at the mouth of our estuary. Cruising over its fishing grounds, it checked itself 40 or 50 feet above the water and hov ered on laboring wings in one spot. Scanning the riffles below, it took a bead on its quarry, then plummeted, its needle-sharp talons thrown far forward and its head in line with them. This falconlike thrust plunged the big bird completely out of sight in a splash of spray, but a moment later it reappeared to flap off with a fish. As it almost invariably does, it carried its prey nose forward like a silvery torpedo (pages 54-5). The technique of other fishing birds, such as the bald eagle, is quite different. The eagles usually make a glide, throwing out the feet at the last moment to hook their prey and fly on without so much as wetting a feather. Bald eagles from the north visit the Con necticut when the ice is on the river, but I seldom see one after the ospreys return from their wintering grounds far to the south. Where the two birds are found together, ICK KENTTRUSLOW( N.G.S.