Flooding spring rivers both give and take life. They tear down trees, dig channels, cover riparian forests, move soil and nutrients, and create challenges for all who live near or depend on their waters. Our breeding ospreys, of course, are one of Dunrovin's family members that most depend on the river as its source of fish to feed their young. When river waters rise, the increased turbidity can make catching fish almost impossible.
when the river rises
by SuzAnne Miller
The animals facing the biggest threat from the rising waters on the Bitterroot River are our own osprey family: Harriet, Swoop, and their chicks Pfiz, Mod, and JJ. Ospreys are wholly dependent on fish. The chicks are particularly vulnerable. Osprey chick grow at a very rapid rate as they must be ready to migrate thousands of mile within 3.5 months of hatching. That's a lot of muscle, feathers, and bones to build in a very short time. Not only do they get their nourishment from fish, but they get their water. Without fish, they are in danger of dying from dehydration and starvation.
The youngest and smallest chick, JJ, is particularly vulnerable. He must compete with it older and larger siblings. When high river waters can keep ospreys from being able to catch sufficient fish to feed their voracious chicks, the chicks often turn to fighting and inevitably, the young one struggles to survive and most often dies.
Luckily for our beloved osprey family, Swoop has proven to be an exceptional fisher. He continually surprises us by supplying his family with BIG fish after BIG fish. Enough to keep all three chicks with plenty of food. Take a look at this morning's first fish of the day. You will note that JJ is, in fact, the most aggressive chick. Its strong will to survive along with the incredible support from its competent parents gives us all plenty of reason to think it will not only survive, but thrive.