My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Osprey, Pandion haliaetus

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upper parts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.

The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.

As its other common name suggests, the Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae.

Fish make up 99% of the Osprey’s diet. They are particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes, nostrils that can close to keep out water during dives, and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch.

People often mistake an osprey for an eagle when seen in flight, but an eagle has much broader wings that are held flat and straight, while an osprey’s wings are much narrower, and gull like.

I don’t have many photos of ospreys, so I am going to use a couple of an osprey in flight from this last summer for now. As the osprey population in Michigan continues to rebound, I hope to add some better ones soon!

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

This is number ten in my photo life list, only 340 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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5 responses

  1. I spend a lot of time on rivers, so I’m going to have to be a little more aware of my surroundings this summer.

    January 23, 2013 at 7:05 am

    • Most people need to make an effort to look up, it isn’t a “natural” thing for humans to do.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

      • No, and I kind of gave up on photographing things that were so good at hiding due to color blindness. I just can’t see them even when I have somebody right next to me, pointing them out. Plants are much easier, even though some of them hide pretty well too.

        January 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm

  2. Definitely one of my top favorite birds! 🙂

    February 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    • Thank you, I wish I had photos of the quality that you have for these!

      February 3, 2013 at 12:16 am