• Jul 13, 2012
Image Ospreys

(Pandion haliaetus)

Article submitted by Lisa Hickey
Certified Master Naturalist Instructor

Table of Contents

About Ospreys

Did you know . . .


The osprey is a large hawk that is often confused for a bald eagle?  Both birds of prey have white heads.  However, the osprey has a dark band from its eye to its ear, resembling a mask.

Did you know . . .


The osprey has incredible eye sight?  It can see fish in the water, from high above the water.  The osprey dives down from above, catches the fish in its claws, and flies away with its dinner.  We would need binoculars to see what ospreys see.  Commonly, ospreys perch on channel markers or dead trees along a river's edge, watching for prey to come into their vision.

Did you know . . .


The osprey makes a large nest out of sticks, Spanish moss, and other materials gathered from the land?  The nest is located high above the land, like the top of power lines or "snags" which we know as dead trees.  When it is time for the female to lay her eggs, the nest is well protected from egg-stealing predators, like snakes, raccoons, and opossums.

Osprey Trivia

Image Osprey Trivia
trivia question mark
  • An osprey may log more than 160,000 migration miles during its 15 to 20 year lifetime.  Scientists track ospreys by strapping lightweight satellite transmitters to the birds' backs.
  • Osprey eggs do not hatch all at once.  Rather, the first chick emerges up to five days before the last one. 
  • Because ospreys are unable to dive to more than about three feet below the water's surface, they tend to fish in shallow waters.  In deeper waters, they catch the fish that come near the surface.
  • Ospreys are excellent at soaring and diving, but cannot maneuver as well as other hawks.  They usually keep to open areas and fly with stiff wingbeats in a steady, rowing motion.
  • Ospreys are great at catching fish.  The average time they spend hunting before making a catch is about 12 minutes!  That is some quick fishing.
  • The wingspan of an osprey ranges from 59 - 70 inches.