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North American subspecies
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Pandionidae
Sclater & Salvin, 1873
Genus: Pandion
Savigny, 1809
Species: P. haliaetus
Binomial name
Pandion haliaetus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching 60 centimetres (24 in) in length with a 2m wingspan. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.

The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It has evolved specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognised. Despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not a sea-eagle.



The Osprey was one of the many species described by Carolus Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae, and named as Falco haliaeetus.[2] The genus Pandion was described by the French zoologist Marie Jules César Savigny in 1809.[3]

The Osprey differs in several respects from other diurnal birds of prey. Its toes are of equal length, its tarsi are reticulate, and its talons are rounded, rather than grooved. The Osprey and Owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when they grab slippery fish. [4] It has always presented something of a riddle to taxonomists, but here it is treated as the sole member of the family Pandionidae, and the family listed in its traditional place as part of the order Falconiformes. Other schemes place it alongside the hawks and eagles in the family Accipitridae—which itself can be regarded as making up the bulk of the order Accipitriformes or else be lumped with the Falconidae into Falconiformes. The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy has placed it together with the other diurnal raptors in a greatly enlarged Ciconiiformes, but this results in an unnatural paraphyletic classification.[5]



The Australasian subspecies is the most distinctive

The Osprey is unusual in that it is a single species that occurs nearly worldwide. Even the few subspecies are not unequivocally separable. There are four generally recognised subspecies, although differences are small, and ITIS only lists the first two.[3]


The genus name Pandion is after the mythical Greek king Pandion of Athens and grandfather of Theseus, who was transformed into an eagle.[8] The specific epithet haliaetus is derived from the Greek ἁλιάετος "sea eagle/Osprey".[9]

The origins of Osprey are obscure;[10] the word itself was first recorded around 1460, derived via the Anglo-french ospriet and the Medieval Latin avis prede "bird of prey," from the Latin avis praedæ though the Oxford English Dictionary notes a connection with the Latin ossifraga or "bone breaker" of Pliny the Elder.[11][12] However, this term referred to the Lammergeier.[13]


Flying with a fish in Texas, USA
A pair at an artificial nest in Oregon

The Osprey is 0.9–2.1 kilograms (2.0–4.6 lb) in weight and 50–66 centimetres (20–26 in) long with a 127–180 centimetres (4.2–6 ft) wingspan.[14] The upperparts are a deep, glossy brown, while the breast is white and sometimes streaked with brown, and the underparts are pure white. The head is white with a dark mask across the eyes, reaching to the sides of the neck.[15] The irises of the eyes are golden to brown, and the transparent nictitating membrane is pale blue. The bill is black, with a blue cere, and the feet are white with black talons.[4] A short tail and long, narrow wings with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth, give it a very distinctive appearance.[16]

The sexes appear fairly similar, but the adult male can be distinguished from the female by its slimmer body and narrower wings. The breast band of the male is also weaker than that of the female, or is non-existent, and the underwing coverts of the male are more uniformly pale. It is straightforward to determine the sex in a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds.[16]

The juvenile Osprey may be identified by buff fringes to the plumage of the upperparts, a buff tone to the underparts, and streaked feathers on the head. During spring, barring on the underwings and flight feathers is a better indicator of a young bird, due to wear on the upperparts.[15]

In flight, the Osprey has arched wings and drooping "hands", giving it a gull-like appearance. The call is a series of sharp whistles, described as cheep, cheep or yewk, yewk. If disturbed by activity near the nest, the call is a frenzied cheereek! [17] About this sound Osprey call

Distribution and habitat

In flight

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.[18] It is found in summer throughout Europe north into Scandinavia and Scotland, though not Iceland, and winters in North Africa.[19] In Australia it is mainly sedentary and found patchily around the coastline, though it is a non-breeding visitor to eastern Victoria and Tasmania.[20] There is a 1000 km gap, corresponding with the coast of the Nullarbor Plain, between its westernmost breeding site in South Australia and the nearest breeding sites to the west in Western Australia.[21] In the islands of the Pacific it is found in the Bismarck Islands, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, and fossil remains of adults and juveniles have been found in Tonga, where it probably was wiped out by arriving humans.[22] It is possible it may once have ranged across Vanuatu and Fiji as well. It is an uncommon to fairly common winter visitor to all parts of South Asia,[23] and Southeast Asia from Myanmar through to Indochina and southern China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.[24]



Fish make up 99% of the Osprey's diet.[25] 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).

Just after catching a fish
Race haliaetus diving, catching & getting air-borne with the prey in Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, India.

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.[26]

The Osprey is particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes,[27] 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,[28] and small reptiles.[29]


Ospreys adapt well to urban environments, as can be seen here with a nest on a utility pole.

The Osprey breeds by freshwater lakes, and sometimes on coastal brackish waters. Rocky outcrops just offshore are used in Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia, where there are 14 or so similar nesting sites of which five to seven are used in any one year. Many are renovated each season, and some have been used for 70 years. The nest is a large heap of sticks, driftwood and seaweed built in forks of trees, rocky outcrops, utility poles, artificial platforms or offshore islets.[25][30] Generally, Ospreys reach sexual maturity and begin breeding around the age of three to four years, though in some regions with high Osprey densities, such as Chesapeake Bay in the U.S., they may not start breeding until five to seven years old, and there may be a shortage of suitable tall structures. If there are no nesting sites available, young Ospreys may be forced to delay breeding. To ease this problem, posts are sometimes erected to provide more sites suitable for nest building.[31]

An adult repairing the nest
Example alt text
Fledged juveniles are as large as their parents, but have white-fringed feathers.
Ospreys with a 2m tall nest. Photographed in one of the inshore islands of Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The platform design developed by one organization, Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc. has become the official design of the State of New Jersey, U.S.A. The platform plans and materials list, available online, have been utilized by people from a number of different geographical regions.[32]

Ospreys usually mate for life. Rarely, polyandry has been recorded.[33] The breeding season varies according to latitude; spring (September-October) in southern Australia, April to July in northern Australia and winter (June-August) in southern Queensland.[30] In spring the pair begins a five-month period of partnership to raise their young. The female 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).[30] 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. A study on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, had an average time between hatching and fledging of 69 days. The same study found an average of 0.66 young fledged per year per occupied territory, and 0.92 young fledged per year per active nest. Some 22% of surviving young either remained on the island, or returned at maturity to join the breeding population.[33] When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The typical lifespan is 20–25 years. In North America Bubo owls and Bald Eagles (and possibly other eagles of comparable size) are the only major predators of both nests and sub adults.[29] Endoparasitic trematodes (Scaphanocephalus expansus and Neodiplostomum spp.) have been recorded in wild Ospreys.[34]


Preparing to mate on the nest

European breeders winter in Africa.[35] American and Canadian breeders winter in South America, although some stay in the southernmost U.S. states such as Florida and California.[36] Some Ospreys from Florida migrate to South America.[37] Australasian Ospreys tend not to migrate.

Studies of Swedish Ospreys showed that females tend to migrate to Africa earlier than the males. More stopovers are made during their autumn migration. The variation of timing and duration in autumn was more variable than in spring. Although migrating predominantly in the day, they sometimes fly in the dark hours particularly in crossings over water and cover on average 260-280 km/day with a maximum of 431 km/day.[38] European birds may also winter in South Asia, an Osprey ringed in Norway has been recovered in western India.[39]


With fish

The Osprey has a large range, covering 9,670,000 km2 (3.7 million square miles) in just Africa and the Americas, and has a large global population estimated at 460,000 individuals. Although global population trends have not been quantified, the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations), and for these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.[1] There is evidence for regional decline in South Australia where former territories at locations in the Spencer Gulf and along the lower Murray River have been vacant for decades.[21]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the main threats to Osprey populations were egg collectors and hunting of the adults along with other birds of prey,[29][40] but Osprey populations declined drastically in many areas in the 1950s and 1960s; this appeared to be in part due to the toxic effects of insecticides such as DDT on reproduction.[41] The pesticide interfered with the bird's calcium metabolism which resulted in thin-shelled, easily broken or infertile eggs.[18] Possibly because of the banning of DDT in many countries in the early 1970s, together with reduced persecution, the Osprey, as well as other affected bird of prey species, have made significant recoveries.[25] In South Australia, nesting sites on the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island are vulnerable to unmanaged coastal recreation and encroaching urban development.[21]

The Osprey is the provincial bird of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Cultural depictions

A juvenile on a man-made nest

Nisos, a king of Megara in Greek mythology, became a sea eagle or Osprey, to attack his daughter after she fell in love with Minos, king of Crete.[42]

The Roman writer Pliny the Elder reported that parent Ospreys made their young fly up to the sun as a test, and dispatch any that failed.[43]

Another odd legend regarding this fish-eating bird of prey, derived from the writings of Albertus Magnus and recorded in Holinshed's Chronicles, was that it had one webbed foot and one taloned foot.[40][44]

There was a medieval belief that fish were so mesmerised by the Osprey that they turned belly-up in surrender,[40] and this is referenced by Shakespeare in Act 4 Scene 5 of Coriolanus:

I think he'll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature.

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats used a grey wandering Osprey as a representation of sorrow in The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889)[43]

The Osprey is depicted as a white eagle in heraldry,[44] and more recently has become a symbol of positive responses to nature,[40] and has been featured on more than 50 postage stamps[45] used as a brand name for various product, sports teams (examples include the Ospreys, a Rugby Union team; the Seattle Seahawks, an American football team and the North Florida Ospreys) or as a mascot (examples include the Geraldton skiing team in Australia; the University of North Florida, Wagner College; the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Richard Stockton College).[46][47]

See also


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2008). "Pandion haliaetus". 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.. Retrieved 24 February 2009.  Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ (Latin) Linnaeus, C (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata.. Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii).. pp. 91. "F. cera pedibusque caeruleis, corpore supra fusco subtus albo, capite albido" 
  3. ^ a b "Pandion haliaetus ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  4. ^ a b Terres, J. K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York, NY: Knopf. pp. 644–646. ISBN 0394466519. 
  5. ^ Salzman, Eric (December 1993). "Sibley's Classification of Birds". Birding 58: 91. doi:10.2307/2911426. Retrieved 2007-09-05. 
  6. ^ a b c d Tesky, Julie L. (1993). "Pandion haliaetus ". U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved 2007-09-06. 
  7. ^ Barrow, M. V. (1998). A passion for Birds: American ornithology after Audubon. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691044023. 
  8. ^ Graves, R (1955). "The Sons of Pandion". Greek Myths. London: Penguin. pp. 320–323. ISBN 0-14-001026-2. 
  9. ^ LSJ, s.v. ἁλιάετος
  10. ^ Livingston, CH (February 1943). (abstract) "Osprey and Ostril". Modern Language Notes 58 (2): 91–98. doi:10.2307/2911426. (abstract). Retrieved 2007-07-02. 
  11. ^ Morris, W (1969). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Boston: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc. and Houghton Mifflin Company. 
  12. ^ "Osprey". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  13. ^ J. Simpson, E. Weiner (eds), ed (1989). "Osprey". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. 
  14. ^ Ferguson-Lees & Christie, Raptors of the World. Houghton Mifflin Company (2001), ISBN 978-0618127627
  15. ^ a b "Osprey". Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. 1999. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  16. ^ a b Forsman, Dick (2008). The Raptors of Europe & the Middle East A Handbook of Field Identification. Princeton University Press. pp. 21–25. ISBN 0856610984. 
  17. ^ Peterson, Roger Tory (1999). A Field Guide to the Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 136. ISBN 978-0395911761. 
  18. ^ a b Bull J, Farrand, J Jr (1987). Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds:Eastern Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 469. ISBN 0-394-41405-5. 
  19. ^ Hume R (2002). RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe. London: Dorling Kindersley. pp. 89. ISBN 0-7513-1234-7. 
  20. ^ Simpson K, Day N, Trusler P (1993). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking O'Neil. pp. 66. ISBN 0-670-90478-3. 
  21. ^ a b c Dennis, TE (2007). "Distribution and status of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in South Australia". Emu 107 (4): 294–299. doi:10.1071/MU07009. ISSN 0158-4197. 
  22. ^ Steadman D, (2006). Extinction and Biogeography in Tropical Pacific Birds, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-77142-7
  23. ^ Rasmussen, P. C. & J. C. Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Vols 1 & 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions.. 
  24. ^ Strange M (2000). A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia including the Philippines and Borneo. Singapore: Periplus. pp. 70. ISBN 962-593-403-0. 
  25. ^ a b c Evans DL (1982). Status Reports on Twelve Raptors:Special Scientific Report Wildl. No. 238. U.S. Dept. Interior, Fish and Wildl. Serv.. 
  26. ^ Poole, A. F., R. O. Bierregaard, and M. S. Martell. (2002). Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). In The Birds of North America, No. 683 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  27. ^ Clark, W. S. & B. K. Wheeler 1987. A field guide to Hawks of North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 0395360013
  28. ^ Goenka, DN (1985). "The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus haliaetus) preying on a Gull". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 82 (1): 193-194. 
  29. ^ a b c Kirschbaum, K.; Watkins P. "Pandion haliaetus". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  30. ^ a b c Beruldsen, G (2003). Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Kenmore Hills, Qld: self. pp. 196. ISBN 0-646-42798-9. 
  31. ^ "Osprey". Chesapeake Bay Program. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  32. ^ Osprey platform plans
  33. ^ a b Dennis, TE (2007). "Reproductive activity in the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on Kangaroo Island, South Australia". Emu 107 (4): 300–307. doi:10.1071/MU07010. 
  34. ^ Hoffman, Glenn L. (1953). "Scaphanocephalus expansus (Crepl.), a Trematode of the Osprey, in North America". The Journal of Parasitology 39 (5): 568. 
  35. ^ Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars, Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter. (2001). Birds of Europe. Princeton University Press. 74–5 ISBN 0691050546
  36. ^ "Migration Strategies and Wintering Areas of North American Ospreys as Revealed by Satellite Telemetry" (PDF). Newsletter Winter 2000. Microwave Telemetry Inc. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  37. ^ Martell, M.S.; Mcmillian, M.A., Solensky, M.J., Mealey, B.K. (2004). "Partial migration and wintering use of florida by ospreys". Journal of Raptor Research 38 (1): 55–61. 
  38. ^ Alerstam, T., Hake, M. & Kjellén, N. 2006. "Temporal and spatial patterns of repeated migratory journeys by ospreys" Animal Behaviour 71:555–566. (PDF)
  39. ^ Mundkur,Taej (1988). "Recovery of a Norwegian ringed Osprey in Gujarat, India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 85 (1): 190. 
  40. ^ a b c d Cocker, Mark; Mabey, Richard (2005). Birds Britannica. London: Chatto & Windus. p. 136–141. ISBN 0-7011-6907-9. 
  41. ^ Ames, P (1966). "DDT Residues in the eggs of the Osprey in the North-eastern United States and their relation to nesting success". J. Appl. Ecol. 3 ((Suppl.)): 87–97. doi:10.2307/2401447. 
  42. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.90
  43. ^ a b de Vries, Ad (1976). Dictionary of Symbols and Imagery. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company. pp. 352. ISBN 0-7204-8021-3. 
  44. ^ a b Cooper, JC (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press. pp. 170. ISBN 1-85538-118-4. 
  45. ^ "Osprey". Birds of the World on Postage Stamps. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ "UNCW Facts". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

OSPREY, or Ospray, a word said to be corrupted from " Ossifrage," Lat. ossifraga, bone-breaker. The Ossifraga of Pliny (H.N. x. 3) and some other classical writers seems to have been the Lammergeyer; but the name, not inapplicable in that case, has been transferred to another bird which is no breaker of bones, save incidentally those of the fishes it devours.' The osprey is a rapacious bird, of middling size and of conspicuously-marked plumage, the white of its lower parts, and often of its head, contrasting sharply with the dark brown of the back and most of its upper parts when the bird is seen on the wing. It is the Falco haliaetus of Linnaeus, but was, in 1810, established by J. C. Savigny (Ois. de l'Egypte, p. 35) as the type of a new genus Pandion. It is closely related to the family Falconidae, but is the representative of a separate family, Pandionidae. Pandion differs from the Falconidae not only pterylologically, as observed by C. L. Nitzsch, but also osteologically, as pointed out by A. Milne-Edwards (Ois. foss. France, ii. pp. 413, 419). In some of the characters in which it differs structurally from the Falconidae, it agrees with certain of the owls; but the most important parts of its internal structure, as well as of its pterylosis, forbid a belief that there is any near alliance of the two groups. The special characters of the family are the presence of a reversible outer toe, the absence of an aftershaft and the feathering of the tibiae.

The osprey is one of the most cosmopolitan birds-of-prey. From Alaska to Brazil, from Lapland to Natal, from Japan to Tasmania, and in some of the islands of the Pacific, it occurs as a winter-visitant or as a resident. Though migratory in Europe at least, it is generally independent of climate. It breeds equally on the half-thawed shores of Hudson's Bay and on the_ cays of Honduras, in the dense forests of Finland and on the barren rocks of the Red Sea, in Kamchatka and in West Australia. Among the countries it does not frequent are Iceland and New Zealand. Where, through abundance of food, it is numerous - as in former days was the case in the eastern part of the United States - the nests of the fish-hawk (to use its American name) may be placed on trees to the number of three hundred close together. Where food is scarcer and the species accordingly less plentiful, a single pair will occupy an isolated rock, and jealously expel all intruders of their kind, as happens in Scotland. 2 Few birds lay eggs so beautiful or so rich in colouring: their white or pale ground is spotted, blotched or marbled with almost every shade of purple, orange and red - passing from the most delicate lilac, buff and peach-blossom, through violet, chestnut and crimson, to a nearly absolute black. The fierceness with which ospreys defend their eggs and young, in addition to the dangerous situation not infrequently chosen for the eyry, make the task of robbing the nests difficult.

The term7" osprey," applied to the nuptial plumes of the egrets in the feather trade, is derived from the French esprit; it has nothing to do with the osprey bird, and its use has been supposed to be due to a confusion with " spray." (A. N.)

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Osprey-Pandion haliaetus-rybołów.png
An osprey in flight.


From Late Middle English ospray from Latin ossifragus (bone-breaker).





osprey (plural ospreys)

  1. A bird of prey (Pandion haliaetus) that feeds on fish and has white underparts and long, narrow wings each ending in four finger-like extensions.
    • 1594: I will provide thee of a princely osprey. — Peele, Battle of Alcazar
    • c. 1612-13: But (oh Jove!) your actions, / Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish, / Subdue before they touch. — Shakespeare, Fletcher, Two Noble Kinsmen


  • fish eagle (a misnomer as the osprey is not an eagle, but compare some of the translations below)
  • fish hawk (a misnomer as the osprey is not a hawk)
  • orfray (obsolete, incorrect)
  • ossifrage (from Latin "bone-breaker")
  • osspringer (obsolete)


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Heb. 'ozniyyah, an unclean bird according to the Mosaic law (Lev 11:13; Deut 14:12); the fish-eating eagle (Pandion haliaetus); one of the lesser eagles. But the Hebrew word may be taken to denote the short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus of Southern Europe), one of the most abundant of the eagle tribe found in Palestine.

This article needs to be merged with OSPREY (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

Simple English

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Pandionidae
Sclater & Salvin, 1873
Genus: Pandion
Savigny, 1809
Species: P. haliaetus
Binomial name
Pandion haliaetus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

An Osprey is a type of fish-eating bird. They are also called Fishhawks, Seahawks, and Fish Eagles. It is a large bird measuring up to 60 cm (24 in) long from beak to tail. It has dark brown wings.



The Osprey weighs 1.4–2 kg (3.0–4.4 lb) and is 52–60 cm (20–24 in) long with a 150–180 cm (5–6 ft) wingspan (the distance between the right wingtip and left wingtip when they are spread out). The back of the bird is brown and the belly is white. The head is white with a dark stripe across the eyes. The eyes are golden to brown and the beak (the mouth of a bird) is black. The legs and feet are white with black talons (nails of a bird).

The Osprey has a short tail and long, narrow wings. Males and females look similar, but males are often paler. In flight, the Osprey raises its wings in an arch shape, making it look like a gull.


In Scotland

Scotland is typical Osprey habitat with lots of trees and lakes (called "lochs"). Because of egg thieves and hunting, only two pairs of Ospreys were left there in 1967. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds began to protect the nests. Ospreys have returned every year to the protected nest at Loch Garten. More than 1.5 million people have been to see them.

The number of Ospreys in Scotland has increased a lot, but the population has been slow to spread. This is because Ospreys often return to breed near to the place where they hatched. This has been proved in scientific studies in the United States of America and Sweden.[1]


  1. The Osprey in Scotland. Rutland Ospreys. Retrieved 19 March 2010
Look up Pandion haliaetus in Wikispecies, a directory of species


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