|"Florida Osprey" Colored Pencil|
It's a nature moment in the Sunshine State. Florida is a birder's paradise flush with a multitude of exotic birds. Perched on a weathered post, a hungry osprey clutches its impressive catch. Bathed in a golden light, the raptor's vermillion wings contrast with the muted turquoise sky. The regal head is defined by an array of tufted feathers and bright yellow eyes. The razor-sharp beak and arching eye-stripe are beautiful, dark accents.
Sometimes called a sea eagle, the majestic osprey is neither hawk nor eagle, it's in a class of its own. This "Lord of the Waterways" is outfitted with a tackle box full of adaptations that make it one of the world's foremost fishers. Huge, powerful wings are composed of water-resistant feathers. When submerged underwater, the osprey has closable nostrils and third eyelids which act as semi-transparent goggles. The broad feet are lethal, featuring curved talons, an adjustable outer toe and heavily scaled soles barbed with spicules that provide a non-slip grip.
Watching this bird of prey in action is an incredible experience. The osprey soars overhead and uses its remarkable vision to locate large fish swimming near the surface of lakes, slow-moving rivers and reservoirs. It hovers in mid-air and then makes a dramatic, feet-first dive. The feathered missile crashes into the water producing a huge splash. The startling reemergence of the drenched bird with its slippery prey in tow is a fitting conclusion to the morning's electrifying sequence of events.