2014 – 3 Sea Hawks

Sea Hawks! If I were a football team owner, I’d pay some guy a boatload of money to come up with exactly this for a team name. Sea hawks really are living here around the Salish Sea, and they’re quiet some bird. In fact, if I were a bird, I’d want to be one. Sea hawks are, of course, another name for ospreys, those big raptors that hunt fish by dive-bombing them, and they’re very good at what they do, just like other Sea Hawks we know.

Consider the similarities: An osprey has unusual ‘hands’ with reversible outer toes that allow them to grasp with two claws in front, two behind. Barbed pads on the soles help them grip slippery fish – just like those funny gloves that catch footballs. When flying with prey, an osprey lines up the catch head-first for security and less wind resistance – just like – well, tuck and run. Ospreys are also very good at catching their prey, with a success rate up around 70% or more.

Sea hawks also travel about as much as professional teams. Migrating to South America each winter (because inland lakes freeze and deprive them of food access), an osprey may log more than 100,000 miles in its 15 to 20 year life. Using satellites, one bird is known to have flown 2,700 miles during 13 days, from Massachusetts to French Guiana, South America. And just like football players, most head south after the season for some much-needed rest.

Larry Eifert paints and writes about wild places. His work is in many national parks across America – and at larryeifert.com

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