In the world of birds, the Osprey is often known as a bird of many names. They are commonly called “Western Ospreys,” “Seahawks,” and “river hawks.”
As these pseudonyms suggest, they are almost always associated with water bodies.
They see water as their major hunting ground, so they live and nest in close proximity to water, making fish a bulky part of their fish.
Ospreys are generally a bird family known for having a large body, hooked beaks, and long talons. Their wingspan is measured to be around 6 ft. across, and on average they weigh about 3 lbs.
Their features are mostly brown, black, white and grey.
- Scientific name: Pandion haliaetus
- Rank: Species
- Conservation status: Least Concern (Population increasing) Encyclopedia of Life
- Higher classification: Ospreys
- Mass: 1.4 kg (Adult) Encyclopedia of Life
- Length: 50 – 65 cm (Adult)
Habitat of the Osprey
These birds are usually found in tropical and temperate habitat across every continent on the planet. This goes to say that they cannot be found in the Antarctic (where there are no temperate or tropical areas).
Their favourite nesting site is one that usually has easy access to open shallow water; this is to allow for easy fish hunting.
They have a habit of living close to a lake, lagoon, swamps, river, marshes and ocean.
Interesting Facts about Osprey
Osprey is said to be one of the most widely distributed raptor species and its most likely you have seen an Osprey somewhere without knowing what it was.
Honestly, there is more to be these wonderful creatures than flying and hunting.
Below are some of the awesome facts about them.
- Hooked em – Ospreys are born with talons that are incredibly curved in comparison to other birds of prey. They specialize in hooking fish with these incredible talons rather than squeezing them with their feet; this is similar to what fishermen would tell you” it’s easier to hold a fish under the gill than to squeeze it with both hands.”
- Dual Grip – Beside owls, most raptors have a three-digit in their front and a single claw facing the opposite direction, this is a basic rule for most hawks. Osprey, on the other hand, are exceptions to these rules, cause they posses two talons in front and two talons in the back. This gives them an extra grip on their slippery prey.
- Perfect Platform – In some areas, humans usually creates man-made areas or Osprey to safely build nests. These platforms are usually adopted by ospreys to help them keep their eggs and chicks away from terrestrial predators.
- DDT – Like the peregrine from the falcon family and other birds of prey, Ospreys suffers terribly while the pesticide DDT is used. This pesticide got into the water and accumulates in the body of their prey, so the more they ate, the more pesticide they accumulate in their body (bioaccumulation) this is the term that is used to refer to this process. One major problem of DDT was that it made eggshell to weaken, and basically stopped production for the ospreys. Thankfully it was later illegalized.
Diet of Osprey
Most of the bird’s diet consists mainly of fish. It is not an exaggeration to say that 99% of their diet is made up of fish species. This is due to the fact that their eyes are adapted to identifying underwater fish while they are flying in the air.
And if they are not fishing, they take the occasional small mammals like birds, insects, reptile or amphibians.
Osprey and Human Interaction
Because these birds are vastly spread out on the planet, their population as a whole is very stable. Basically, they are not in decline, though only a few that are sub-species which are located in some certain region are said to be in danger of extinction.
Aside from geographically related issue, they have also been placed in danger by humans. One of the main activites by humans that had threatened their existence was seen in the 19th and 20th centuries before any mode of protections were put in place.
During this time, the collection of eggs and feather of ospreys were very common. Also, the introduction of DDT caused a major steep decline in the population of these birds of prey, though after it was illegalized their numbers quickly bounced back, and currently they are not in danger.
Domestication of Osprey
If you were ever thinking of domesticating an osprey, Stop! Because they are not domesticated in any way.
Does Osprey make a Good Pet?
It is known that having ospreys as a pet is illegal in some countries.
Ospreys are mostly found in zoos, and sometimes they are made up of the injured and are unable to be released. Depending on the kind of injuries, different king of care and treatments are required.
Those that can fly are provided with plenty of space for exercise. Due to their nature, a water source is always a must for them.
Reproduction of Osprey
These raptors usually mate for life, but there are records which show that they breed with more than one mate.
The females usually lay between two and four eggs in a large nest of branches and sticks. These eggs are incubated for around three to four weeks before they hatch.
Once the offspring reaches around three to four years of age, they are ready for sexual maturity and ready from breeding.
Behaviour of Osprey
For the most part, Osprey is solitary birds, but during the winter months, they are known to congregate when roosting. They are often territorial but not aggressively defensive of their territory. They only get aggressive when other birds encroach on their nesting area.
Adult osprey does not have many predators, though the great horned owl and bald eagles have been known to sometimes kill osprey chicks. The primary predator of the Osprey is the raccoon which always kills and eats osprey eggs in their nest.
Does Osprey attack people?
Ospreys are known to get vicious when protecting their children from predators. The great blue heron has been documented as raiding an osprey nest; the documentation shows how the Osprey was very ferocious in protecting its young.
Although it might be true, Ospreys are tolerant of humans. Often times, ospreys have seen nesting in busy highways, and sometimes in crowded cities.