Hi Barbara,

I have to tell you about my new brainchild: I think I caught a “Changing Totem Bird” virus. Remember how I spotted the GREEN HERON whenever, wherever I went to the San Lorenzo River? Happily I moseyed along the river, being certain I catch sight of it. And then the GREEN HERON disappeared from my Totem pole: in months I haven’t seen feather or beak of them and trust me, I am looking hard at the tule and bushes, expecting to see that tell tale quick shimmer of blue/green feathers. I so miss them!


And now I am convinced that the river recently gifted me the OSPREY as my new Totem bird. It’s mind-boggling how often I see the OSPREY on my walks. I have become quiet familiar with the bird’s timetable: perching in Trestle trees is scheduled for mid-morning and late afternoon, river hunting time is slotted in the early morning and between 1pm-3pm , followed by a dip bath behind the skateboard park. Since the bath seems to take place after eating I suspect that the Osprey is cleaning the fish remnants off the talons and lower body part. An essential element of the bath ritual is scrubbing the talons in rapid digging succession on the sand in shallow water, followed by a short body dip in deeper water. I so hope you’ll witness this awesome scene one day.

Talon Scrub

Here are some fascinating tidbits about my new Totem bird: they have an impressive wingspan of approx. 71 in. and are 24 in. long. 99% of their diet is fish.These raptors feature a reversible “toe”. It guaranties the firm fish grip: two “toes” in front, two in the back. Of course their barbed pads are also helpful. The OSPREY, being a savvy aerodynamic navigator, always flies with the fish head pointed in flight direction. The OSPREY hunts on average for 12 min. before making a catch. So head up to you anglers: keep an eye out for a hunting OSPREY before throwing your line into the water. This Raptor mates for life, building a starter nest of 3-6 in deep by 2.5 in wide. Returning each year to the same location, the nest requires re-modeling. A lasting “marriage” can end up with a mega nest of 10-13 feet deep and 3-6 feet wide.

Just have to tell you this other little story: standing above the river mouth, I saw 2 OSPREY hunting. One got a fish and was announcing the success loudly, flew really close to the other one, who totally ignored the mighty hunter and kept diving for breakfast. The triumphant OSPREY was determined to get due attention and flew straight into the other’s diving path, pulled away in the last second and had had it with being ignored. OSPREY with fish in tow flew into a tree, called urgently and the other one flew in, perched on a lower branch, decided the fish wasn’t really all that impressive, flew off again with the shunned hunter in hot pursuit, shrieking persistently the whole time.

Successful Hunter
Successful Hunter

Your report about the San Lorenzo Park Pump Track was so informative & gave me the same feeling as the firing of Dr. Lester by the Ca. Coastal Commission: Is this really in the best interest of our Natural Resources?

Elated Totem bird greetings


5 thoughts on “OSPREY…NEW TOTEM BIRD?

  1. Goodness, Jane, what a fascinating post! You have observed so much about your osprey! How excellent that you know her exact schedule, down to the time she takes a bath and scrubs her rather soiled talons and belly feathers!! You even got a beautifully sharp photo of this talon scrubbing behavior! And I was quite intrigued by the fishing drama between the two osprey. Ah, how similar we all are, humans and ospreys. Sometimes I don’t think I get the attention I think I deserve, either! Do you think it might have been a courting ritual – a male showing off what a good fisher he was? I am also happy that you have a new friend to take the place of your green heron. I also miss them. Where oh where have they gone?

  2. “Spirit animal” and “totem animal” are Native American concepts and expressions. Using them is cultural appropriation. As you can tell from the recent news, Native Americans are to this very day subject to physical and cultural genocide from white people. Subsequently adopting their religious expressions as a cute internet idea is a poor plan. I urge you to adopt a different terminology.

    1. Thank you very much for your passionate, caring comment, which I hear clearly. I want to assure you that I did use the word “Totem” w/full intention of honoring the Native American concept: I do believe that animals come into our life to give us a message, to offer us their strength/wisdom. Since the Western culture lacks that life view, I had to lean on the Native American culture, which I respect & honor highly, to get my thoughts across. At no time was it my intention to use the word as a “cute internet idea”! I love your help for a replacement word that gets the Native American perspective across.

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