See Summit County Ospreys in Person


(Courtesy Dept. of Wildlife Resources)

Ospreys are unique birds. They build nests that look like chimneys. And the plummet they do out of the sky -- to snatch fish that are swimming under the surface of the water -- can take your breath away.

You can see these large birds and learn more about them during a free field trip on July 30. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the trip in Summit County.

With their five-foot wing span, the ospreys will be easy to see. And if you attend the field trip, you might even see some turkey vultures and great blue herons, says Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR.

To participate in the field trip, meet at the Rockport Reservoir dam from 6 to 7 p.m.

To reach Rockport, travel on Interstate 80 to Wanship. Then exit the freeway and travel south on state Route 32 to the dam observation site.

From the dam, participants will follow Walters in their own vehicles to viewing sites in and near Coalville, Wanship and Rockport State Park.

If you’d like to join the field trip at one of the viewing sites, please call Walters at (801) 209-5326 to make arrangements.

What you’ll see

Walters will have some binoculars and spotting scopes available, but if you have your own, he encourages you to bring them.

You’ll see osprey pairs and their young during the trip. Walters says each pair had one to three young, called eyases, this spring.

While there’s a chance you’ll see the ospreys fly, it’s more likely you’ll watch them as they feed and exercise their wings while they’re on their nests. Sometimes three feet or taller in height, the nests themselves are something to see. Walters says after awhile, the nests start looking like chimneys.

“Sometimes, I think they’d rather build nests than fish,” he says. “It’s just incredible.”

During the trip, Walters will also point out waters you can visit at a later time to witness the spectacular feet-first ‘plunge dive’ of the osprey. Ospreys make these out-of-the-air dives to snatch fish that are swimming under the surface of the water.

Walters says ospreys are highly specialized to capture fish. Their outer toe is reversible. And their talons are covered with sharp hooks on the lower surface that allow them to grasp slippery fish in the water.

Walters calls the ospreys’ plunge dive “one of the true spectacles of nature.”