Osprey Facts

Oct 25, 2018Everglades, Florida

IMG_E4647 IMG_E4583 Ospreys are strong, capable fishermen/women, beautiful in flight, as well as, while they await the perfect moment to dive upon the water for their prey. The exist on fish primarily, but sometimes eat rodents, other birds, reptiles and even crustaceans. They mate for life. As a matter of fact, they are sometimes referred to as the fish hawk, river hawk or sea hawk because they reside on lakes, oceans, ponds, rivers and other coastal waters. Their scientific name is Pandion haliaetus.

They are white on their heads with a band of brown across their eyes similar to the Lone Rangers mask. Their undersides is a mix of white feathers with brown feathers near the tips of their wings and then mottled brownish feathers make-up their exterior. They are protected under the Migratory Birds Act. Those that live in the northern climes go to Central or South America during the winter months.

Where Ospreys and Eagles are present there usually is an abundance of clean water and good fishing. If they are absent, where they should be present, there is most likely an imbalance in their habitat. I.e. pollutants or red tide or algae blooms can threaten their environment and deplete their populations over time.

Adult Ospreys range from twenty (20) to twenty-six (26) inches in height or length and weigh up to three (3) pounds.  Wingspan for the Osprey ranges from five (5) to six (6) feet. Females are larger than the males. Lifespans for Ospreys are between fifteen (15) to twenty (20) years. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They have been known to fly as fast as fifty (50) miles per hour and are able to dive feet first upon their prey at speeds up to thirty (30) miles per hour.

Osprey build nests that are quite large and lay their eggs in April or May. A typical nest will be about four (4) feet wide and made of sticks, bark, sod and other grasses, occasionally even flotsam and jetsom. The male brings the building material and the female arranges it into a nest. In Florida you can find their nests atop power poles, bridge arches, and even more unusual or creative places. Eggs are laid one to three days apart. Females lay two to four eggs each season. The female incubates the nest for approximately a month, but incubation times range from thirty-six (36) to forty-two (42) days. Females seldom leave the nest during incubation except to feed while her partner vociferously defends it and does the majority of the hunting. Baby Ospreys are fully grown at about six (6) weeks and leave their nests at about the ten (10) week mark. Their first year is the most critical to their survival.

I just love to watch them as they scout for food sources and am awed by their splendor in flight. Enjoy a few of the photos that I snapped watching them in the Everglades depicted in this article. For more information about them please peruse my resources and more.





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