Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The focus at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island is usually on wading birds and creatures of the mangrove forest. But look up and you'll often find a master of the skies and waters: the osprey. Ospreys are the fishermen among hawks and are found around the world. At Ding Darling, they can be found year-around. Once declining as a result of pesticide and heavy metal pollution, osprey numbers are once again growing as we have reduced pollution problems. Increases in osprey populations are also due to help we've given them by providing artificial nest sites. Watch for their nests on tall poles with platforms on top at Ding Darling. Ospreys have many adaptations for capturing fish: a dark line through the eye reduces glare from the water, sharp talons and spiny scales on their feet help them grip fish they capture, and a sharp beak allows them to tear a fish into bite-sized morsels. Populations of ospreys at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and elsewhere in Florida continue to serve as living barometers, indicating the health of aquatic ecosystems.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.