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Fish and Game Q&A: What to do for a lonely osprey?

November 4, 2010 |  1:56 pm

Osprey2 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: We keep our sailboat in the Alamitos Bay Marina and recently have been seeing an osprey perching on another sailboat mast across from ours. This same bird was there last year, and there was another osprey flying around with him. This year, he is the only one there, and he just cries and cries and gets no answer. My husband is very worried about him. Is there anyone we can talk to about this? (Lois and Chuck M.)

Answer: You can assure your husband that there’s no reason to worry about this lone osprey you’re seeing. According to Department of Fish and Game Seabird biologist Laird Henkel, although osprey are typically monogamous, after their breeding season concludes each year the two members of a pair will separate and migrate to different wintering sites. Since they don’t nest in Southern California, any osprey you may see during the winter in your region are likely migrating or just wintering there locally. Because of this, the two birds you saw last year were almost certainly not a mated pair. It’s also unlikely they were a parent-juvenile pair as juveniles also migrate separately from their parents.

The second bird you saw last year may be around again this winter but just in a different part of the bay, or it may have been a bird that has died since last year.

Osprey can live for more than 20 years and will typically return to the same wintering site year after year, so you may end up seeing this same individual on your neighbor’s mast for years to come. Osprey will call for a variety of reasons but most typically if they are annoyed or they are announcing their territory (including a winter feeding territory) to other birds. It’s hard to say what the "crying" you hear might mean, but I’ll bet the bird is not calling for its missing "friend."

Q: What baits that I catch myself can I then use when fishing and crabbing off of a public pier? (Dan T.)

A: Any finfish or invertebrate that is legal to take or possess in California may be used as bait while crabbing or fishing. They must be caught in a legal manner -- for example, you may not use a rockfish caught accidentally in your crab trap as bait, because rockfish may only be caught using hook-and-line fishing gear. And if you decide to use something with a size limit, it must meet the legal size limit, and that finfish or invertebrate must be added to your bag for the day.

Q: My grandson is 13 years old and interested in hunting. His dad is cool to the idea but doesn’t oppose it. The weekend of Oct. 2-3, I got him his hunter’s training certificate through the California Waterfowl Assn. (who by the way are really doing a lot to get kids interested in hunting and shooting). I wanted to get him his license right away so that I could enter him in a youth drawing to hunt the Tejon Ranch. The deadline was near and so I had a mental lapse and got him a regular adult license instead of a junior license. Afterward, I realized I had made a mistake and so had my son go get him a junior license. Yes, now he has two hunting licenses, a junior license and an adult license, and that’s the problem.

My son is concerned that there is some illegality in having two hunting licenses. I don’t think there would be a problem unless my grandson attempted to use the two licenses in some way. If it is illegal for him to have both a junior hunting license and an adult hunting license, can I just cure the problem by running the adult license through the paper shredder? I don’t care about reimbursement and will just consider it a donation. Thanks for your assistance. (Charles V., Ventura)

A: Hunters may only possess one license, and hunters 15 years and younger may only possess a junior hunting license. It is illegal for your grandson to possess an adult license until he turns 16 years old. The best solution for this situation is for you to return the adult hunting license, along with a copy of the junior license and a note explaining what happened, to the DFG License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834. This will allow for the adult license issued under his name to be removed from the database, and you will be reimbursed for the cost of the adult license purchased in error. Happy hunting with your grandson!

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Photo: Osprey perched on an upright branch. Credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

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