Osprey

Nesting Osprey, Roger Inghram Photo Credit

(Pandion haliaetus)

Physical Characteristics: Up to 24 inches in body length, a wingspan between 50-70 inches and average weight of 2-4 pounds. Mostly white heads with a brown stripe through the eye. Wings are brown on top and mostly white underneath, with long yellow talons adapted for hunting fish.

Diet: Strict diet of live fish. Occasionally preys on rodents, rabbits, hares, amphibians, reptiles and other birds.

Habitat: Prefer elevated and open nesting sites free from predatory mammals. Site must provide a feeding ground(s) or fish supply within 12-miles of the nest. Gravitate towards shallow fishing grounds, including rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and marshes. Have been known to build nests on tops of pedestrian bridges, telephone poles, and flat platforms, as well as live and dead trees.

Range: A widely distributed raptor that is found throughout the world and the United States. Ospreys can be regularly observed in north-central Idaho and throughout the northern Rockies bioregion during the summer breeding season, due to the proximity and abundance of prey.

Reproduction: Nests are generally built out of sticks and lined with bark, sod, vines and grasses. Males collect most of the materials, while females arrange it. Tend to return to the same nest year after year making the nest bigger over time. Clutch size is 1-4 eggs, with an incubation period of 36-42 days.

Threats: Osprey populations crashed between the 1950′s and 1970′s due to the use of pesticides but have significantly rebounded since then. Pesticide bans and creation of artificial nest boxes have aided recovery.

Miscellaneous: Alternative names for the bird include fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk or fish hawk.

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