Beak of the Week: Osprey

In the birding world, there are those who are obsessed with shorebirds, those who are passionate about colorful songbirds, and then, there are those, whom we endearingly call, “raptor people.”

These individuals are absolutely wild about birds of prey—and with good reason! What these birds lack in color and song, they more than compensate for in precision, strength, and grace.

If you haven’t yet fallen in love with falcons, hawks, and eagles, I hope that my introduction to the Osprey will beak, errr, peak your curiosity about these incredible birds!

Common Name: Osprey

Latin Name: Pandion haliaetus

Range: Every continent except Antarctica.

Habitat: Near bodies of water and coastal waterways

Diet: Approximately 99% of an Osprey’s diet is fish.

Identification: Tones of brown and black on back and wings; white crown and forehead; Wingtips angled slightly backwards; dark stripe across eyes.

Conservation Status: Least Concern


The Out of the Ordinary Osprey….

  • Is one of the largest birds of prey in North America and one of the most widespread in the world.
  • Has an incredibly large wingspan, reaching approximately 6ft.

  • Is also known as a “fish-hawk” or a “sea hawk” and possesses superb hunting skills, with an estimated 90% success rate.
  • Is able to hunt by diving into the water from 30 to 100 feet up and can shut its talons in 2/100ths of a second.
  • Has four equal toes, unlike other raptors.  The outer toe is reversible, which allows the bird to seize prey with two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards.
  • Is an expert aerodynamicist, positioning fish head first, to decrease wind resistance for flight.
  • Has an average lifespan 30 years.
  • Eggs hatch in a staggered fashion. Older siblings are more dominant and may leave younger birds to starve when food is scarce.




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