The Osprey is a fascinating large bird of prey which build large nests of twigs and branches and catch fish, snakes and small mammals for food.
The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eatingbird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. 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 grayish on the head and underparts.
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 names suggest, the osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomicgenus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognized, one of which has recently been given full species status (see below). Despite its propensity to nest near water, the osprey is not classed as a sea eagle.
Sometimes you’ll see American Bald Eagles and Osprey fighting over fish. Osprey are amazingly successful at fishing while the Eagles are not. The eagles often find it easier to let the Osprey do the fishing and then try to steal the prey from them later.
Osprey are successful hunters, with studies showing they have a success rate as high as 70 percent, snagging a fish about every 12 minutes. Most fishermen would love to have that kind of success!