More than any other bird, the Osprey is the symbol of Kootenay Lake. It is numerous and highly visible during the warm season as it fishes and nests over and adjacent to the waters. If you head out on the Lake in the summer, or even walk its shore, an inquisitive eye treats you the sight of an osprey hovering over the water, diving, lifting fish from the water, and flying off with it to feed its young.
This leads to a summer of flying fish, many of which are headless.
Ospreys and humans have had a long relationship, certainly since European settlers started driving pilings in the shallows, and possibly earlier. Ospreys like the easy access to the Lake that humans provide by building dolphins and erecting pilings. They find these human structures propitious for their nests. Mind you, while ospreys tolerate human presence, they chirp their objections if people happen to get too close to what they perceive as their nest-bearing structures. Oh well, they are fun to watch.
The relationship did not always go as well as it does now. When I was a child, my family was horrified when louts would set nest-bearing pilings afire so as to incinerate osprey chicks. (The pilings at Troup still bear the scars of those fires.) The motivation for this bit of vandalism was apparently the assumption of local fishermen that the ospreys were stealing all the good game fish, and these were fish the humans wanted for themselves.
Apart from the inherent injustice of this behaviour, it relied upon a faulty assessment of osprey activities. Osprey generally grab the easiest prey, and those tend to be the slowly swimming suckers. Suckers are not the good-eating fish that fishermen seek. However, the facts did not stop humans from demonizing osprey believing that they favoured trout and Kokanee. Sigh….
Here are two pictures of flying suckers taken this last week.