Also known as the fish hawk, ospreys are raptors that are well adapted for fishing. The birds have long legs and large feet with specialized barbs on the pads, hooked talons, and a reversible outer toe. This allows them to easily grasp fish with two toes pointing to the front and two pointing to the rear.
Haliaetus comes from the Greek ἁλιάετος and means “fishing eagle.” Where the English name osprey comes from is not entirely clear, but it is thought to have derived from the Medieval Latin avis prede (“bird of prey”) through the Norman ospriet.
Bird’s Eye View: Ospreys are a rare sight, but when they do appear, it’s a majestic sight. Most of the large birds soaring over the lily-pad festooned pond were turkey vultures, easily distinguished from hawks by their small heads and wings held in a flattened V-shape.
The osprey is a naturally rare bird (as are all birds of prey), but populations are steadily increasing from historic lows, and scientists consider this species to be one of least concern.
Fun Facts about Ospreys for Kids- Ospreys eat mostly fish, but sometimes they eat lizards, insects, muskrats or even squirrels.
These large raptors are known to live for approximately 15 to 20 years; however, the oldest known osprey survived to be 35. Nearly half of young osprey can die within the first year. On average, the female osprey lays around three brown speckled eggs in the spring, with a month-long incubation period.
Nests are often located near the water on tall structures like dead snags, utility poles, channel markers and nesting platforms. Females lay three eggs between mid-April and late May, which are speckled with beige and brown spots. Incubation lasts for 38 to 42 days. Eggs do not hatch at the same time.
However, ospreys are typically monogamous, except in the rare case when one male manages to defend two nests that are close together. In the event that one mate dies, the other osprey will typically advertise for a new one. Male and female ospreys work together to raise chicks and cannot do it on their own.
Where do the ospreys go at night? Answer: The female osprey will stay at the platform when there are eggs or chicks in the nest, but both parents often sleep away from the platform when it’s empty. The ospreys seem to prefer to sleep or roost in nearby trees, much like the eagles.
Ospreys give calls, chirps, and whistles mainly as a means to communicate with a mate, rival ospreys, and to warn them about the presence of threats. The majority of Osprey’s vocalizations are motivated by interactions between the mated male and female.
The osprey /ˈɒspri, -preɪ/ (Pandion haliaetus), also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range.
Despite its propensity to nest near water, the osprey is not classed as a sea eagle.
Resident to long-distance migrant. Most Ospreys that breed in North America migrate to Central and South America for the winter, with migration routes following broad swaths of the eastern, interior, and western U.S. A few Ospreys overwinter in the southernmost United States, including parts of Florida and California.
“The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) protects migratory birds, including their nests, eggs, and chicks. The MBTA does not prohibit the destruction of an inactive nest, provided that no possession occurs during or after the destruction, therefore, no permit is needed to destroy an inactive nest.
In most states it is illegal to own an osprey as a pet.
May 31: The osprey chicks will begin to hatch around the end of May or beginning of June. The female will keep the chicks underneath her wings to keep them warm until they begin to grow feathers.
Ospreys are a specialised, fish-eating bird of prey, most similar to the buzzards or eagles in general appearance. Seen in flight from below, the osprey has white or slightly mottled underparts. They catch fish by diving and have a long hook on their bill to tear them apart.
Adult ospreys do not have many predators, although great horned owls and bald eagles have been known to sometimes kill osprey chicks and adults. The primary predator is the raccoon, who will steal and eat osprey eggs found in nests. Where do osprey live?
The most consistent difference is the body weight; females are heavier than males. Other body measurements such as wing and tail are also longer on average in females than in males. The size difference can be noticed when a pair of birds are perched next to one another. Female (left) and male (right) Ospreys.
The density of the patch can vary and could be confused with the rough-legged hawk, but osprey’s wings are generally darker than the hawk’s overall. Secondary Feathers: Ospreys have strong barring on their secondary feathers that make those feathers look darker compared to the paler inner wing.
Size: Osprey have an average 59- to 70-inch wingspan and weigh 3-4 pounds. They have long, narrow wings with a marked kink that makes them look like an M-shape from below. The bald eagle is one of the largest birds in North America, with an average 80-inch wingspan and weighing 6.5 to almost 14 pounds.
In North America, osprey breed from Alaska to Nova Scotia south to the Great Lakes states and along both coasts of the United States. Breeding osprey are also found along the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas, and on some of the Caribbean Islands.
An average of 30 miles per hour, but up to 50 miles per hour as it hits the water. Ospreys usually mate for life.
Western breeders generally migrate south across the western United States along a broad front. Most western Ospreys overwinter in Mexico or Central America.
Ospreys nest in spring and summer throughout much of North America. Watch for them along rivers, lakes, bays, and coastlines. Most are migratory, heading south in September. Ospreys may log more than 160,000 air miles over a lifetime.