Friday, June 22, 2012

Episode 116 (June 25, 2012): Osprey

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 25, 2012.

This week we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds and see if you can guess what’s making the high-pitched, chirping sounds.  And here’s a hint:  You won’t find an image of this bird on the back of a U.S. quarter, but you can find it commonly along Virginia’s tidal and coastal waters in spring and summer.


If you guessed an Osprey, you’re right!  Sometimes mistaken for Bald Eagles, adult Osprey differ from our national bird in having white under their wings and dark marks on their head and tail.  Like Bald Eagles, however, an Osprey’s sharp talons, hooked beak, and keen eyesight make it a raptor, a word whose Latin root means “to seize.”  While many raptors capture a variety of animals, aquatic-based Osprey feed almost completely on fish—giving rise to its nickname, Fish Hawk.  A ban on the use of the pesticide DDT in the United States greatly helped the recovery of severely diminished populations of Osprey, eagles, and other birds, whose eggshells were thinned by the chemical.  Osprey nest along shorelines, rivers, and marshes in the Chesapeake Bay region from spring to late summer.  Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio for permission to use this week’s sound.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Acknowledgments: The sounds of Osprey were taken from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott and NatureSound Studio (online at  Sounds of Osprey were used previously as part of Virginia Water Radio Episode 56 (week of March 7, 2011; now archived).

Sources: A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); Life in the Chesapeake Bay, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “Bird Guide” Web site at; the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Web site at; and the Chesapeake Bay Program Web site at  Another good source is “Birds of North America Online” at, but a subscription is needed.

Recent Virginia Water News
            For news relevant to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Virginia Water Central News Grouper, available online at

Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.