I
t's March 24th, a familiar high pitch cuts through the harbor. A large, impressive raptor perches atop a great nest built of sticks. She stretches her wings and cries out, proclaiming to the world that she has returned and that this is her territory. Her calls do not go unanswered for long. From the distance comes the reply, echoing off the water and reverberating through the harbor. This voice belongs to the male who has been her mate for at least the last half-decade. They have each completed a journey of several thousand miles, traveling from South America separately and arriving here on the same day. It's March 24th, the exact date they arrived the year before. The nest they built together five years ago still stands after Winter's rain, wind, and snow; they re-unite here each Spring to start a family. They will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Only death will separate them. On the Long Island Sound, the season of the osprey has begun.
 
 

SYNOPSIS

Ospreys are unique in the world, alone in their taxonomic family. They inhabited their global breeding range before the first human ancestors began to walk upright. Suited for almost all global regions and climates, the osprey thrives anywhere there are fish. Millions of years of evolution created this master aerial predator.

Osprey
follows the return of a life-long pair to their summer breeding site in Greenwich, Connecticut. Once a year the birds return to this quiet suburban inlet of the Long Island Sound to restore the nest they originally built years ago, each time raising a new clutch of offspring. Their return is not a gentle one, however. Threats come from all sides, as competitors emerge and other ospreys look to claim their nest and territory for themselves. The heroic couple, barely recovered from their great migration, now must engage in aerial warfare to defend their home.

They do defend their home. And with parental diligence, tireless dedication, and courage, this experienced pair once again triumphs over all obstacles. They hatch a clutch of eggs and keep their chicks safe a fed. The female guards the nest day and night through the long incubation, and the male must provide for himself, his mate, and his growing young's insatiable appetites until they are ready to take wing.

The story continues as the fledglings begin a journey of self-discovery. They learn to fly gradually, rising up from the nest, for a few seconds, treading air, but then falling back exhausted. Miraculously, these same birds are soon diving for fish on their own. Evolutionary adaptations have created one of nature’s most adept fisherman, and osprey’s have the unique ability to dive into water at high speeds and emerge with large fish.  From as high as a hundred feet in the air, they peer down into the water, and then pull in their wings, diving headlong.  At the last second they throw their talons forward, wings back, and crash into the water feet first, snaring unsuspecting fish with razor-sharp talons. They are a sight to behold, evolutionary marvels performing at their peak.

By Fall the birds have broken free of the nest.  When the leaves begin to turn, all the parents head back to South America, leaving their young to fend for themselves. Only instinct prods them to head South, back to a land that they have never seen. One day, driven by an unidentifiable calling, they will begin the long migration to the Gulf of Mexico or beyond, where they will remain for the next two years, until ready to return and start the whole process over again.