Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Pandionidae - Ospreys

Osprey
Western Osprey Pandion halieatus ©Public Domain

The Pandionidae or Osprey family has recently been revised and the former lone species split into two species which are virtually identical but inhabit different areas of the world. They are also called fish eagles, sea hawks, river hawks, and fish hawks. They are a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. They are large raptors, reaching more than 60cm in length and 180cm in wingspan.They are brown on the upper parts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts. They tolerate a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. They are found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America only as a non-breeding migrant.

As the other common names suggest, the ospreys' diet consists almost exclusively of fish. They possess specialised physical characteristics and exhibit unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, they have their own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies were usually recognised, but one has recently been given full species status as Eastern Osprey which is found on the rivers and coastlines of Australia. Despite their propensity to nest near water, ospreys are not classed as sea eagles.

The two species:

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Eastern Osprey Pandion cristatus

Family Links

Ospreys Pandionidae

Cornell Family Account

Ospreys Pandionidae

Family Account

The Osprey has traditionally been considered to belong to its own monotypic family, the Pandionidae.

Ospreys Pandionidae

HBW Family Account

Ospreys Pandionidae

Family Account

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eating bird 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 upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

Species Links

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Species Account

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — also called fish eagle, sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a diurnal, fish-eating bird 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 upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

IUCN Species Status

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

BirdLife Species Account

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Cornell Species Account

Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming.

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

RSPB Species Account

Seen in flight from below the osprey has white or slightly mottled underparts. The long wings are angled, bending at the 'wrist' which has a black patch contrasting with the white wing linings, and at a distance it could be mistaken for a large gull.

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

HBW Species Account

Falco Haliaetus Linnaeus, 1758, Europe = Sweden. SE race sometimes referred to by name leucocephalus, but cristatus has priority. Proposal that races represent three species (on basis of morphological and genetic differences) requires further study. Recent trend to separate shorter-winged, whiter-headed and streakier-breasted race cristatus as full species, largely on genetic grounds, requires fuller review of evidence. Proposed races melvillensis (Melville I) and microhaliaetus (New Caledonia) both very similar to cristatus and here synonymized with it, although former sometimes considered valid. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Eastern Osprey Pandion cristatus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 2

Useful Reading

DVD British Birds of Prey

Narrated & Filmed by Paul Doherty 90 minutes 28 species covered £17.95 Bird Images DVD Guides, 28 Carousel Walk, Sherburn in Elmet, N Yorks LS25 6LP, United Kingdom http://www.birdvideodvd.com
See Fatbirder Review

Lady of the Loch

The Incredible Story of Britain's Oldest Osprey by Helen Armitage | 240 pages | Constable Robinson Publishing | Softcover | 2011
S ee Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9781849017022

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Rutland Water Ospreys

By Tim Mackrill with contributions from Tim Appleton & Helen McIntyre, Illustrated by John Wright | A & C Black | Hardback | 2013 | 160 pages | 200+ colour photos | 200+ colour & black & white illustrations
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9781408174142

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Osprey Project [UK]

Website

Welcome to the website of the Anglian Water Osprey Project in partnership with the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and in Scotland, Roy Dennis MBE. The project is based at Rutland Water Nature Reserve. Ospreys are being re-introduced to England from the growing Scottish population. Satellite tracking is also being used to monitor the migration.

International Osprey Foundation

Website

The International Osprey Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation, is dedicated to the continuing recovery and preservation of the osprey, others in the raptor family, wildlife and the environment as a whole. The Foundation conducts monitoring activities, and accumulates data specific to the breeding activities of the osprey population. The data is made available through the Foundations newsletter publication and can be obtained by interested parties/organizations upon request. The Foundation issues grants for researchers whose studies involve environmental concerns. The Foundation directs and participates in all areas of wildlife and habitat maintenance and restoration.

Other Links

Osprey - Ultimate Angler

Video

Terrific footage of Osprey catching a variety of fish…