Bird of the Month: Osprey

By Hugh Jennings

PC: Mick Thompson (Osprey)

PC: Mick Thompson (Osprey)

Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus

Length 21-25 in

Wingspan 54-72 in

AOU Band code OSPR

Our only raptor that hovers over the water and plunges in feet-first for fish (the Bald Eagle may pick up fish from the surface, but doesn’t dive into the water). Fish are carried head first as the bird flies off. It is about 21-25" long and has a wingspread of 4 ½ to 6 ft. Its four letter code is OSPR. Blackish above and white below with a white head with a prominent dark eye stripe. Males are usually all white below, females have a necklace of dark streaking.

It often flies with a kink or crook in the wing forming a wide shallow M. The common call is a loud, whistled kyew kyew kyew kyew. Ospreys nest near fresh or salt water. The bulky nests are built in trees, on sheds, poles, docks, and also on specially constructed platforms (such as the one at Juanita Bay being dedicated on April 25). It can be found in all continents except Antarctica. The female lays 2-4 whitish eggs with reddish-brown blotches. Incubation is 34-40 days and the young fledge after 49-56 days. The male brings the female all of her food during breeding. Immature birds stay on the wintering grounds for two years before returning north.