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A medium-large eagle-like raptor, length 55-58 cm (21Â¾-22Â¾ in), wingspan 145-170 cm, weight â™‚ 1.1-1.7 kg, â™€ 1.4-2.0 kg (nominate P. h. haliaetus) Adult:
Long, slender wings
Dark brown above
White with patterning below
Rather prominent nape crest
Beak is dark
Talons sharp, with spine-like scales on toes for holding slippery prey.
Sexes are similar except larger female has more extensive dark markings on chin, breast, and sides of neck. Juvenile has pale-fringed upperparts and orange eyes although eye color may turn yellowish by early fall. Juvenile also has a buffy wash to the underparts, especially in the underwing coverts.
Distinctive, unlikely to be confused. Bald Eagle is larger, usually dark-bodied, with adults having all-white head and tail. It soars with wings nearly flat. At a distance, Osprey may be confused with large, dark-backed gulls, especially adult Great Black-backed Gull, but similar gulls have all-white head and tail, white trailing edge to blackish upperwings, and lack Osprey's prominent crooked wings in flight.
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 March-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 clear water 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 (see diet).
Season varies. Spring and summer in temperate latitude but winter to spring in tropical regions. Nesting in dispersed pairs or loose colonies. Nest is a large stick platform nest lined with seaweed, bark, leaves, or grass. It is usually placed in a large tree, but they will also use power poles, rocky cliffs, offshore stacks, or on the ground. They readily use artificial platforms erected for their benefit. The same nest may be reused each season with both male and female adding material each season so that the nest may reach enormous size. Clutch size is 2-4 white eggs marked with brown spots and blotches. Incubation is largely by the female.
Relatively silent away from nest-site, but noisy close to it, with several different vocalizations. Femaleâ€™s calls generally stronger and lower-pitched than those of male. Guard Call is a series of slow, whistled notes, falling rapidly in pitch given by both sexes. It has been described as sounding like a whistling kettle taken rapidly off a stove. Male also gives a screaming call in courtship.
Bierregaard, R. O., A. F. Poole, M. S. Martell, P. Pyle, and M. A. Patten (2016). Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.683
Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: Osprey Pandion haliaetus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 May. 2019
Poole, A.F., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52947 on 26 May 2019).