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Return of the Osprey: A Season of Flight and Wonder
Synopses & Reviews
More than any other bird, the osprey symbolizes the New England coast, as Roger Tory Peterson once noted. Known also as fish hawks, ospreys-with their magnificent six-foot wingspans and dark masks-are the only raptors to dive fully into the water to catch their prey.
In Return of the Osprey, David Gessner sets himself on a quest: to watch these great birds of prey and learn about their astonishing comeback to the Atlantic coast after a twenty-year absence. Over the course of a full nesting season-from March, when the ospreys return from their wintering grounds, to September, when they migrate back to South America - Gessner immerses himself in the lives of four pairs of hawks.
By bike, by kayak, and on foot, he takes the reader through the beautiful landscape of Cape Cod and details the intricacies of the ospreys' day-to-day living: nest-building, courtship, giving birth, first flights, the murder of one fledgling by another, and, most captivating of all, the ospreys' swift and forceful dive into the sea. In the process, Gessner discovers an intimacy with the land and learns about resiliency and hope. And he witnesses an extra ordinary event: the survival of nine young ospreys, the most his town has seen in more than half a century. Return of the Osprey is the story of a remarkable recovery, a celebration of place, and a journey into the wild and the tame, the beautiful and the fragile.
Author Gessner explores peoples relationship to nature and the land by observing the lives of ospreys--large majestic fish hawks that have made an astonishing comeback on the Atlantic seaboard.
When David Gessner returned to Cape Cod, where he spent summers as a child, he noticed something he had never seen before: hawks with magnificent six-foot wingspans and dark masks.
In Return of the Osprey, Gessner sets himself on a simple quest: to watch these great birds and learn about their astonishing comeback to the Atlantic coast after a twenty-year absence. In the process, he takes us on a journey into the wild and the tame, the beautiful and the fragile.
Over the course of a full nesting season, Gessner immerses himself in the lives of these majestic birds. He observes their remarkable adaptability, their astonishing fish-catching skills, their housekeeping habits, and, when the chicks are born, both their savage and gentle ways of nurturing. For Gessner, spotting an osprey dive for fish at forty miles an hour becomes a lesson in patience and focus, watching the birds build their nests illustrates the vital task of making a home, and following the chicks' attempts to fly show him the value of letting go. He discovers the rewards of slowing down and the discipline of waiting and watching. And he witnesses an extraordinary event: the survival of ten young ospreys, the most his Cape Cod neighborhood has seen in more than half a century.
Return of the Osprey is a story of a remarkable recovery, a celebration of place, and a thoughtful meditation on finding one's way in the world.
About the Author
David Gessner is the author of the critically acclaimed A Wild, Rank Place and Under the Devil's Thumb. He lives with is wife, Nina de Gramont, on Cape Cod and teaches creative nonfiction as the Harvard Extension School. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Boston Globe, Creative Nonfiction, and Orion.
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Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Birds » Birdwatching