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Osprey - D Shenton

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), commonly known as the 'sea hawk' or 'fish eagle'. Is a pescetarianist bird feeding on only fish and some forms of shellfish. The Osprey tolerates a large variety of habitats, nesting only in places where there is sustainable supply of food and water. but despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not a sea eagle.

Distribution and habitat[]

The Osprey has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica. In North America it breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to the Gulf Coast and Florida, wintering further south from the southern United States through to Argentina. It is found in summer throughout Europe north into Scandinavia and Scotland, though not Iceland, and winters in North Africa.



Fish make up 99% of the Osprey's diet. It typically takes fish weighing 150–300 grams (5–10 oz) and about 25–35 centimetres (10–14 in) in length, but the weight can range from 50 to 2000 grams (2–68 oz). Prey is first sighted when the Osprey is 10–40 metres (32–130 ft) above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water.

The Osprey is particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes, closable nostrils to keep out water during dives, and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch.

Occasionally, the Osprey may prey on rodents, rabbits, hares, amphibians, other birds, and small reptiles.


The Osprey breeds by freshwater lakes, and sometimes on coastal brackish waters. In s pring the pair begins a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. The female

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Ospreys on Nest -

lays two to four eggs within a month, and relies on the size of the nest to conserve heat. The eggs are whitish with bold splotches of reddish-brown

and are about 6.2 x 4.5 centimetres (2.4 x 1.8 in) and weigh about 65 grammes (2.4 oz). The eggs are incubated for about 5 weeks to hatching. The newly hatched chicks weigh only 50–60 grammes (2 oz), but fledge in 8–10 weeks. When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The typical lifespan is 7-10 years, though rarely individuals can grow to as old as 20–25 years. The oldest European wild osprey on record lived to be over thirty years of age.

Size: 54–58cm


  • Large raptor.
  • White breast and belly.
  • Black back and wings.
  • Long wings, held with wingtips angled slightly backwards.
  • Dark eyestripe.
  • Crown and forehead white.

Habitat: Breeds in variety of habitats with shallow water and large fish, including boreal forest ponds, desert salt-flat lagoons, temperate lakes, and tropical coasts. Winters along large bodies of water containing fish.

Voice: Calls are short, chirping whistles.