Balancing Act

Perched on the thin cross-rail of the power line pole the osprey stands, silvery fish clasped in her talons, balancing on the slippery scales as she pecks and pulls at the stringy entrails.  She is on the verge of a big change, a migration from the land where she raised her chicks in the big stick nest down the road.

Her grown chicks circle over the river, diving awkwardly toward the water on barely tested wings.  The larger one strikes the silver surface of the river, but he rises again with empty dripping talons.  The mother osprey looks up from her meal, watches as the other chick makes a dive.  He pauses, flailing on the surface of the river, thrashing his wings, but whatever he thought he’d grasped squirmed away and he returned to his slow circling over the water.

The osprey repositions herself on the fish beneath her, tilts a bit to the side as it seems to slip off the pole, but her grip is tight–her sharp claws dug deep in its flesh and balanced again, she thrusts her beak deep into the meat, ripping it from the carcass in great chunks, throwing her head up to let them slide down her gullet.  She seems to be taking great pleasure in this solitary meal, no longer needing to regurgitate it for her chicks, confident that despite their awkward attempts , hunger would focus their skill.

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