California Raptor Center

Osprey

Scientific Name: Pandion haliaeetus
(Pandion comes from the name of two mythical kings of Athens, haliaeetus comes from the Greek halos ‘sea’ and aestos ‘eagle’).  

Size: Length: 21-26in Wingspan: 59-67in        

Weight: Female: 1250-1900g (~2.75-4.78lb)  Male: 1200-1600g (~2.64-3.52lb)

Lifespan: In the wild there have been birds living up to 25 years. In captivity they may only live a couple of years. This is due to the fact that they have a difficult time learning to eat dead prey.

ID: Adults have a white breast and underwing coverts with dark carpal patch. Black horizontal eye stripe with rest of head white. Top of wings, back and tail dark. In flight wings form a “W.”  Juveniles are similar in plumage, but head is darker with distinct white feather-edging on upper parts. Juveniles also have an orange-red iris rather than the adults yellow.

Hunting: Flies above water, hovering frequently. Will dive completely into the water when spotting a fish. Will also “skim” fish that are near the surface.

Prey: Fish although they have been know to eat other animals such as; birds, snakes, voles, squirrels, muskrats, salamanders, conchs, and even small alligators.

Breeding: They prefer to nest near water (3-5km) in large trees, power poles, other man-made structures, and on cliffs. They have large bulky nests made of sticks. They average 3-4 eggs. Eggs are incubated 32-43 days. Young fledge at 48-59 days. Both parents take care of the young.

Range: Ospreys are found everywhere except Antarctica.

Status: Ospreys are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act and CITES Appendix II.

Point of Interest: Osprey feet have a reversible front toes and spicules on the bottom of their feet to help grasp slippery prey. They are also able to close their nostrils during underwater dives.