BEMIDJI -- Sometimes we spot birds, and other times it feels more like the birds spot us.

While I was sitting in the grass along the shore of Lake Bemidji near Paul Bunyan Park on Friday, I saw a shadow and looked up to see a large bird flying overhead. At first glance I thought it might be a hawk of some kind, and sure enough as I started snapping some photos I heard someone nearby say, "I think it's an osprey!"

Most of the time when you take a picture of a bird they are just flying around minding their own business and don't really seem to notice you are there, but not this bird. It looked directly at me and for a second it felt like it was looking right through me.

An osprey is spotted flying over Lake Bemidji on Friday, July 17, from the shoreline near Paul Bunyan Park. According to All About Birds, ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
An osprey is spotted flying over Lake Bemidji on Friday, July 17, from the shoreline near Paul Bunyan Park. According to All About Birds, ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

When looking into the species description on All About Birds, I came across this interesting fact: "Ospreys are excellent anglers. Over several studies, Ospreys caught fish on at least one in every four dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70%. The average time they spent hunting before making a catch was about 12 minutes—something to think about next time you throw your line in the water."

An osprey is spotted flying over Lake Bemidji on Friday, July 17, from the shoreline near Paul Bunyan Park. Adept at soaring and diving but not as maneuverable as other hawks, ospreys keep to open areas, flying with stiff wingbeats in a steady, rowing motion, according to All About Birds. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
An osprey is spotted flying over Lake Bemidji on Friday, July 17, from the shoreline near Paul Bunyan Park. Adept at soaring and diving but not as maneuverable as other hawks, ospreys keep to open areas, flying with stiff wingbeats in a steady, rowing motion, according to All About Birds. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

The site also references how their diet of live fish and the ability to dive into water to catch them is a unique feature among North American raptors. That makes Lake Bemidji a great spot to catch a glimpse of one for yourself.

Here are some tips for spotting ospreys from All About Birds:

  • Look near open bodies of water that contain an abundant supply of fish, and listen for the osprey’s whistling or chirping calls overhead, or look for this bird's distinctive flight profile and heavy wingbeats.
  • From spring into fall, a boat or raft on a lake or river can provide an especially good vantage point.
  • Scan treetops and other high spots along the shore for perched adults and untidy stick nests piled atop a platform, pole, or snag out in the open.

Annalise Braught is the Managing Editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 333-9796.