The Annapolis Maritime Museum is proud to announce a new edition to its collection. On display in the exhibit room, a strikingly mounted osprey extends her wings while clutching a fish. Visitors to the museum can now get a close look at a bird that is usually seen only at a distance in the sky or in one of the high platform nests that dot our local waterways.
One of the largest raptors, the osprey is a spectacular bird: with a wingspan that can extend over 70 inches. It is at the top of the aquatic food chain and is a superb fisher. Using its extraordinary eyesight to spot fish, the osprey can dive into the water from a height of more than a hundred feet. Once it catches a fish, sharp barbs on the bottom of its feet securely hook it, and an opposable outer toe allows the osprey to rotate the fish to face forward. This unique ability creates more efficient flight for the bird.
One day last fall, Tim Dillon, an Eastport resident, saw an osprey in flight with a fish in its talon. As he and his friends watched, the fish brushed a power pole and created a ground between the bird and the electricity in the wire. Tim says, “There was a large “pop” sound and as I turned to look, I saw the osprey fall to the middle of the street.” It lived only a few minutes after the shock. Although Tim was ready to take the bird home and bury it, one of his friends suggested that it could be an excellent addition to the Annapolis Maritime Museum.
However, the osprey is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The osprey, once abundant in the Chesapeake Bay region, has seen significant decreases in its numbers and is now considered an endangered species. It is illegal for anyone to possess one, alive or dead.
Fortunately, Michael Hughes, a member of the board of directors for the Maritime Museum, was able to enlist the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, which took custody of the bird and completed the necessary paperwork to grant custody to the museum. Edgewater taxidermist Charlie Fegan donated six months of his time and expertise to preserving and mounting the osprey.
The Annapolis Maritime Museum is located at 723 Second Street in Eastport. It is open from 11 am to 3 pm on Thursdays through Sundays.