BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
A widespread breeding summer visitor to much of Scandinavia and Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Smaller isolated pockets of range in Scotland, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States. There are also small resident populations further south on the Atlantic coast of southern Portugal, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, the Balearics and on Corsica. Increasing in Scotland since its recolonisation in the 1950s and now breeding in the south, and the first breeding in England for centuries has taken place. One pair bred in Cumbria in 2001 and a reintroduction scheme using birds translocated from Scotland led to successful breeding at Rutland Water. Also in 2002 nest-building occurred for the first time in the Netherlands.
Occurs as a widespread migrant throughout Europe with peak passage periods in April-May and August-September. Migrants do not concentrate at particular sites to cross seas as many other raptors do. Most winter in sub-saharan Africa but some in the western Mediterranean, in particular on Sardinia, Sicily and North-West Africa, also at the head of the Red Sea and in southern Iraq. Vagrants recorded north to Ireland, Iceland and Faroes, also on the Azores and Madeira. A widespread breeder across northern Asia from the Urals east to Kamchatka, Sakhlain and Japan. Also breeds in the Middle East mainly on islands in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
Birds from the Philippines to northern Australia are sometimes separated as P. h. melvillensis and those from New Caledonia as P. h. microhaliaetus but these races are usually included in P. h. cristatus.
The main subspecies have in the past been seen as full species, and there are some DNA data that support that view. The most widely followed split is between Australasian birds (as P. cristatus) and the rest; names that have been used for the split species are Eastern Osprey for P. cristatus, and Western Osprey for the rest.
Among the characteristic behaviors, the one where it hovers over for example a clearwater lake and then splashes in so that the entire bird seems to disappear may be the most spectacular. Quite often, it will come up again carrying a fish, its main food.