Pandion haliaetus

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The Osprey[1]

The Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

Habitat Prefer habitats with shallow water for fishing, and safe nesting sites. Osprey usually nest within 3 to 5 km of a body of water such as a salt marsh, bog, reservoir, wetlands, river, mangrove swamp, etc.

Range Found worldwide and breed on every continent except for Antarctica. Particularly common in the Chesapeake Bay region of the United States and in Scandinavia.

Description Osprey are large birds with a wingspan between 145 and 170 cm. They have white underbodies with a dark brown necklace. They also have a dark stripe through their eyes and dark brown feathers on their back. They have black beaks and pale bluish gray legs. Females are larger than males, with darker feathers and necklace.

Ecological Notes Osprey can be migratory or not. Their diet consist almost exclusively of fish. Some species of birds are known to build their nests within an osprey nest. Ospreys nests are easy to locate making them easy to study. Osprey may provide scientists with important information about the health of local water sources.

Personal Information We saw many Osprey from a distance during our stay at the Outer Banks.

Journal Articles
To learn about using Osprey to detect metals and other toxins in the water, please read:
Lounsbury-Billie, M. J.; Rand, G. M.; Cai, Y.; & Bass: O. L. (2008). Metal concentrations in osprey (Pandion haliaetus) populations in the Florida Bay estuary. Ecotoxicology, 17(7), 616 - 622.

To read more about migration and feeding patterns in Osprey,see:
Strandberg, R. & Alerstam, T. (2007). The strategy of fly-and-forage migration, illustrated for the osprey (Pandion haliaetus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61(12), 1865 - 1875.

Other References:
Image from:

Contributed by Rachael Glover- 2010

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