Osprey: Large raptor, dark brown upperparts contrast with white underparts, faint breast band. Small, white head has dark crown, eyestripe. Dark bill. Wings held at a distinct angle in flight, with underwing showing barred flight feathers and diagnostic dark patches on forewing. Gray legs and feet.
Range and Habitat
Osprey: Worldwide distribution except Antarctica; found near large bodies of water.
The Osprey has one of the largest ranges possible, with the populations of Africa and the Americas appearing in an estimated range of up to 9,670,000 square kilometers alone. This species can be found natively throughout North and South America, the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, Asia and Africa among other areas. Its habitat is as varied as its range and this species is found in forests, wetlands, marine environments and coastal areas. The global population of this bird is estimated to be around 460,000 individuals. Currently, it is not believed that the population trends for this species will soon approach the minimum levels that could suggest a potential decline in population. Due to this, population trends for the Osprey have a present evaluation level of Least Concern.
Live fish account for about 99% of their diet. Barbed pads on the soles of its feet help it grip slippery fish. When an Osprey takes a large fish to its nest, it carries the fish headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible.
The Osprey, Pandion haliaetus–whose species name is derived from the Greek ‘hals’ (salt or sea) and ‘aetos,’ or eagle–is the only bird of prey that feeds exclusively on live fish.
Their eggs do not hatch all at once, but instead the first chick hatches out up to five days before the last one.
Their outer toe is reversible so that it can grasp with three toes forward and one toe backward or with two forward and two backward, which provides a more stable grip in flight.