Happy Thursday, everyone. It is partly cloudy here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We have had many pop up thunder storms over the past few days and the humidity just won’t leave us alone.
A couple of days ago, we saw Tom getting ready to swoop down in the backyard. Since he has been very busy bringing materials to the nest, we figured he was picking up another stick for construction. Tom was headed toward an object that looked like a stick laying in the middle of the backyard. When he flew off with the object, it wasn’t a stick. Instead, it was a huge, still flapping fish that he must have just dropped. Unfortunately, we missed the falling of the fish, how could you miss a fish falling out of the sky?! Although the type of fish wasn’t readily identifiable, we figured it was a Menhaden.
The osprey’s diet consists totally of fish. In the Chesapeake Bay, the majority of the fish consumed by osprey are Menhaden. This fact may have already been noticed by some of the camera watching fish experts in our midst. Jim Uphoff, fisheries biologist from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, was kind enough to share an abundance of information with us concerning Menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. He actually provided a 10-page report (translated into Spanish if necessary), but the detailed information is beyond the scope of this blog. If you would like to read the full report, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you.
Menhaden make up one of the largest and oldest fisheries on the Atlantic Coast, and they are a key figure in the Chesapeake Bay Food Web. Similar to oysters, Menhaden are filter feeders that consume algae and planktonic organisms. Osprey, Bald Eagles, Blue Fish, Weakfish, and Striped Bass rely on Menhaden as a food source. Similar to many other creatures in the Bay, their population is declining due to overfishing. Fortunately, there seems to be an ample supply of Menhaden around Tom and Audrey’s nest.
The ecology lesson is over for the day. I would like to thank the camera watchers for submitting their Tom and Audrey contest pictures, and I hope we will receive many more in the near future.
Adios Amigos, until next time,
The winning photo for today was submitted by 103.1 WRNR radio in Annapolis, Maryland. The photo was taken after they dedicated the song “Surfin Bird” to Tom and Audrey.