Pandion haliaetus

Whether perched on platform in a salt marsh or flying above the shallow water of estuaries, lakes and bays, the Osprey is a well-known migrating bird of prey in the Northeast. With their long, rectangular wings with a slight backward crook and brown wrists, it is easy to identify an Osprey as it soars overhead looking for fish.

FEEDING: Ospreys are the only hawk in North America that eats almost exclusively fish (about 99% of it’s diet is fish). They are very good at catching them – they have very long talons, are skilled at diving and soaring, and like most birds of prey, have excellent eyesight, allowing them to search for fish from the air. In order to supply the amount of fish needed to raise young, a pair of Ospreys will have a territory that spans a nearly 24-mile diameter around the nest.

NESTS: Ospreys will nest on almost any elevated nest site near water, including light poles, trees, and especially nesting platforms. A pair will return to the same nest year after year, adding to the structure each year until is reaches enormous proportions.

CONSERVATION: Ospreys are a conservation success story. From the 1950’s-70’s, use of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) as an insecticide nearly wiped this species out. It was later discovered that the accumulation of DDT in the tissue of Ospreys caused thin-shelled eggs that broke during brooding. The banning of DDT has allowed this species to fully recover in North America.

ATTRACTING THEM TO YOUR YARD: Ospreys are not really birds you can attract to your yard. However, if you live near the water where there isn’t all ready a resident pair of Ospreys, consider building a nesting platform.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: visit allaboutbirds.org

Osprey on nest (above); bring fish to mate (below)

The characteristic dark brown “wrists” of the Osprey are easily seen as it flies overhead