Ospreys Have A Shocking Spring Migration! — Save Coastal Wildlife (2023)

Written by Joe Reynolds, President/Director of Save Coastal Wildlife

Ospreys Have A Shocking Spring Migration! — Save Coastal Wildlife (1)

Can you feel it? Spring is underway in the northern hemisphere. The first full day of spring, a season normally full of hope and renewal, arrives around March 20.

Just like clockwork, ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), a species listed as threatened in New Jersey under the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act of 1973, return every spring from over-wintering sites in the tropics to watery areas up north, including rivers, lakes, and the world famous Jersey Shore, to begin another busy breeding season raising a feathered family. Because of a long breeding cycle (they are big birds of course), ospreys are among the first birds to migrate north from the tropics to start nesting.

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The reappearance of ospreys every spring is one of the great natural wonders to watch for along the Jersey Shore. Forget about looking for robins or even red-winged blackbirds, both of these birds are often year-round residents or short-distance migrants. The first sight of a long-distance osprey is a true sign of spring!

The fun usually begins in early March when wildlife watchers and birders from all over the state try to spot the first osprey of the season. People are out and about in search of the bird up and down the Jersey Shore, from Raritan Bay down to Delaware Bay.

Ospreys are found on all continents except Antarctica, and always located near water. Depending on where you go, people may call them sea hawks, river hawks or fish hawks. Ospreys are large fish-eating raptors ranging in size from 20-24 inches (50-60 centimeters) long with a wingspan of 5 to 5 ½ (1.5-1.7 meters) feet. They have dense dark brown-and-white wings, a large hooked beak and prominent large yellow eyes in adults, which provide sharpened eyesight at three to five times the distance that humans can see. An osprey is able to spot a fish about two hundred feet away.

The bird’s most noticeable feature is the black band of feathers that span from its eyes and around its head resembling a bandit’s mask or the mask worn by that iconic “masked man” known as theLone Ranger, which is remarkable because ospreys always migrate and forage for food as individuals, not in flocks.

Odds are good you have seen this bird or its nest around the Jersey Shore during spring, summer or fall. An osprey’s nest tends to be a pile of sticks and branches haphazardly assembled atop a 20-foot tall artificial nesting platform, a tall dead tree, a buoy, or some other structure near or in the water.

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(Video) Historical ospreys (from Aristotle to Mackrill) with Ken Davies

A quick glance at this bird may appear like seeing a large gull. But ospreys are no gull! They’re not even related to gulls. In fact, they are unlike any raptors.

Ospreys are a very special type of bird of prey that is a superb angler. While many other birds of prey hunt for birds, mammals, or any live land animal, or even the carcass of an already-dead animal, ospreys go where few hawks dare – into the water to fish for food. Ospreys are the only raptor that relies so much on fishing for a living.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, ospreys can catch a fish at least one in every four dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent. The average time a bird spends searching for a fish before making a catch is about 12 minutes. A much better success rate than most weekend warriors along the Jersey Shore that try their luck at catching a fish with a rod and reel.Even bald eagles, another raptor that loves eating fish, are not as good at catching a fishy meal as an osprey, which is probably why sometimes rather than doing their own hunting a bald eagle will harass an osprey, making it drop a fish or even steal their fish out of their talons. As Benjamin Franklin declared in his writings of 1784, a bald eagle is “too lazy to fish for himself…and does not get his living honestly.” Words that are true today as they were in the 18thcentury.

Most avian field guides indicate that 99 percent of an osprey’s diet consists of live fish, including menhaden or bunker, flounder and bluefish. With long legs that are largely bare of feathers, strong needle sharped curved talons, and a special reversible outer toe that swings back to help hold a fish, ospreys have evolved over time to dive into the water from heights of up to 100 feet to catch fish like no other hawk. This is why the osprey is the only member of its family,Pandionidae,there is no other bird like an osprey.

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One of the most stressful times for any bird, including an osprey is spring migration. When people observe ospreys for the first time every spring they often see birds that appear ragged, starved and exhausted. The fish hawks have just completed a challenging northward marathon migration flying thousands of miles in most cases nearly nonstop into storms, high winds, and through hazardous situations all the way from South America to North America.

Spring migration for ospreys is an extraordinary journey that we are still trying to understand, though it’s slowly getting better. A 2001 journal article inThe Condorby Mark S. Martell and others tell us that the sightings and returns from metal bands put around the legs of ospreys for the past 50 years have confirmed that spring migrations are quicker than fall migrations. Ospreys spend proportionally more time traveling than stopping to rest and eat during spring migration. No doubt the need to breed is strong in these birds.

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When we put this data together with information from improving micro and portable technology, we start to get an even better picture of how stressful and nerve-raking spring migration is for many ospreys.

Miniaturized solar-powered GPS trackers and newer solar-powered GSM (groupe spécial mobile) transmitters allow wildlife researchers to track movements of tagged ospreys in real time. Thanks to this new tracking technology we have a much better understanding of spring migrations.

A scientific project in 2013 by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy used a solar-powered GPS device to show how fast an osprey is capable of flying during spring migration. An osprey named Coley travelled approximately 2,600 miles over 15 days from Ciénaga Pajaral, or Bird Marsh on the northern tip of the Republic of Colombia, situated near Panama, to reach the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City. The bird traveled nearly nonstop at almost 173 miles per day.

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(Video) CAPE aMAYzing The magic of spring and fall birding in Cape May with Michael O'Brien & Louise Zemaits

In May 2012 at Jamaica Bay in New York City, wildlife researchers outfitted another osprey named, Coley II, with a GPS pack. The next year Coley II was late in arriving back to Jamaica Bay. The bird left Lake Valencia in Venezuela on March 16thbut didn’t arrive to Jamaica Bay in New York City until April 5th. A trip that took 20 days. When Coley II did arrive, he had to contend with another male osprey that was trying to mate with his long-standing female companion. It was an “interloper” who had arrived earlier from the tropics and tried to pair off with Coley II’s established mate and nesting platform.Timing is everything, even for ospreys.

Although ospreys generally mate for life, a single bird will take on another partner when their established mate dies or doesn’t show up during spring migration. Each day that an osprey is not present at a nesting site decreases the strength of the bond with a mate, making a single osprey more likely to accept the advances of another osprey.Fortunately, Coley II arrived just in time to befriend his long-standing female partner and strengthen the pair bond once more. Another day or two and the outcome may have caused Coley II to locate a new mate and a new nest.Timing is everything, even for ospreys.

Stories of male ospreys arriving late to the nest are not uncommon. In 2015, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in New Hampshire tagged a male osprey Wausau, “named for the old Wausau Paper Mill that was an important part of the town of Groveton for so many years.” On March 23, 2016, Wausau flew about 150 miles north from his winter home in central Colombia and then surprisingly turned around and went back to his wintering area on the 23rd. No one is sure why, but Wausau took off again on March 28th and arrived at his nest in northern New Hampshire on April 18th. Due to this long delay, when Wausau arrived at his established nesting area, his mate from last year had already paired up with a new male. She probably thought poor Wausau had died. Fortunately, Wausau was able to successfully chase the intruder away, reclaim the nest, and begin the mating process with his long-established female partner.

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Perhaps the most famous and one of the longest tagged ospreys is Belle. This osprey was tagged on July 28, 2010 on Martha's Vineyard. The last signal was on April 26, 2017, after the radio failed. Belle completed 6 migrations from Massachusetts to the Amazon Basin in South America, with a total distance traveled of 82,961 miles (more than three times around the globe), and a total migration distance of more 50,000 miles. Along the way, Belle survived a major hurricane and several storms; and avoided numerous threats from humans and other animals, including a hungry alligator.

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Why would an osprey be late or not show up at all to a nesting platform along the Jersey Shore? Stories of spring migration are even more interesting when you take into consideration the long winding path the birds often fly to reach a breeding site.

A study published by Mark S. Martell and others from a 2014 edition of theJournal of Raptor Research,shows that many of our east coast ospreys in the United States winter in South America with smaller amounts around Chesapeake Bay, Florida or on Caribbean islands, including Cuba. As spring approaches, ospreys who winter in South America make a long-distance journey past the Gulf of Venezuela to briefly rest in either Haiti, Jamaica, or Cuba, after a long overwater crossing of between 400 and 700 miles. It’s a tiring flight that typically takes 27 to 40 hours and involves risky nighttime travel. Once across the Caribbean Sea, nearly all ospreys will cross Cuba to the Florida Keys and then northward to breeding grounds. The birds travel as much as 5,000 miles from the Amazon basin, across the Caribbean Sea and up the Atlantic Coast before they end up at their breeding site. An incredible winged migration that normally takes two to three, sometimes four weeks, from start to finish.

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Migrating ospreys can cover thousands of miles during their spring travels, repeatedly traveling the same course year after year with little deviation. Moving across natural boundaries of rivers and tropical rainforests of the Amazon, the reefs and islands of the Caribbean Sea, the hills and valleys of Cuba, and past the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States known as Everglades National Park.

Along the way, ospreys have many stressful and worrying issues to deal with. One major hazard is weather, especially when crossing large bodies of water. The birds can be blown off course or get caught up in a severe thunderstorm or windstorm. This event will drain fat reserves (fuel) and put an osprey at risk of being too weak to continue. Ospreys cannot land on the water to rest like a gull. If an osprey gets tired over the open water, it will drown.

According to researcher Rob Bierregaard from Drexel University, one tired osprey attempted to rest and “ended up on a ship that took it to Portugal.” No one knows for sure exactly what happened to this poor, tired bird, but crossing large bodies of waters can be dangerous for birds of prey. “Most of the mortality is related to crossing the Caribbean Sea…. that’s when most adults disappear,” Bierregaard said.

(Video) Wildlife of the Halvergate Marshes in Spring

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Yet, many ospreys for whatever reason seem to welcome the challenge of flying over open water more so than any other bird-of-prey. Alan F. Poole, an expert on osprey ecology and behavior tells us in his classic book, Ospreys: A Natural and Unnatural History (1989), “Most diurnal birds of prey avoid over-water crossings of more than 9 miles because large bodies of water never generates the updrafts and thermals that make for efficient soaring flight. Instead, most hawks and eagles prefer to circumvent the intervening body of water, thus concentrating along shorelines, land bridges, or at narrow water crossings.” But not for Ospreys! They are the exception to the rule. During both spring and fall migrations, ospreys make perils water crossings over many miles of open water to begin another breeding season.

But weather and water are not the only problems. With nearly 9 billion people on this planet, ospreys have to deal with a few crazy people along the way, especially ones with guns and who will shoot birds. This happens when hungry ospreys try to take a fish from a private or commercial fish farm in the Dominican Republic, Haiti or Cuba. Many fish farmers do not take kindly to someone, even a bird, “stealing” a fish from their profit margins. According to a 2001 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, about 14,000 ospreys are killed every year by fish farmers in several Latin American countries. Total mortality though could be higher, since at least 21 Latin American and Caribbean nations have fish farms along the birds’ migratory routes.

Shooting ospreys can take place anywhere including by people in the United States of America. In 2007, a Pennsylvania man pled guilty to killing an osprey with a .22 rifle at the Rainbow Paradise Trout Farm in Coudersport, PA, located approximately 110 miles east of the Allegheny River. The man, an employee at the trout farm, shot the osprey because the bird had been preying on fish.

Collisions with vehicles and powerlines are also are sources of mortalities for ospreys, particularly during spring migration when birds are in a rush and may not notice certain things to their demise. Another threat are oil spills in the waters of Venezuela. A September 24, 2020 article in The Washington Post written by By Mariana Zúñiga and Anthony Faiola tell us: “Venezuela’s once powerful oil industry is literally falling apart, with years of mismanagement, corruption, falling prices and a U.S. embargo imposed last year bringing aging infrastructure to the brink of collapse. As the government scrambles to repair and restart its fuel-processing capacity, analysts are warning that ruptured pipelines, rusting tankers and rickety refineries are contributing to a mounting ecological disaster in this failing socialist state.” Many ospreys die every year from polluted water near Morrocoy National Park and in the Gulf of Paria.

But if not oil, then DDT. During the 1950s and throughout the 1970s in the United States, DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), or more correctly its breakdown creation DDE, a colorless, tasteless, and almost odorless chemical compound used as an agricultural and household pesticide, caused the collapse of osprey populations throughout North America. The pesticide seeped into local waterways through runoff and accumulated in the tissues of marine organisms, including fish.

This bioaccumulation, the gradual accumulation of substances in an organism, of DDT seriously affected top predators, including ospreys, bald eagles and peregrines. The toxin impaired a bird’s ability to reproduce. DDT caused eggshell thinning which led to fewer and fewer young to replenish the population. Toxic chemicals probably also killed off some adults as well.

Alan F. Poole tells us in his book, Ospreys, The Revival Of A Global Raptor, that most population declined very quickly…many by at least 50% and a few by almost 90%.” Poole goes on to declare that DDT, “interfered with the physiology of eggshell formation in females. Consequently, eggs were laid with thin shells and often failed to hatch; year after year populations struggled to gain new recruits.”

The good news is that osprey populations have shown a gradual increase since DDT and similar toxic substances were federally banned in the United States in the 1970s. Water quality has also been slowly improving in the United States since the establishment of the Clean Water Act of 1972. Various government and nonprofit organizations and volunteers have also been busy building osprey nesting platforms to provide suitable nesting areas for the birds, as their coastal habitat largely became developed and fragmented during the DDT era.

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According to the2019 New Jersey Osprey Project Report, there were 669 occupied osprey nests — the most ever recorded in New Jersey – with around 95% of the population utilizing manufactured wooden nesting platforms. Of course, not all the nests were productive. Out of 669 nests, 488 were active and produced 932 young. Great news compared to having only about 50 nests in 1974 statewide. Osprey populations are on the rebound.

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(Video) Flight of the Osprey podcast: Sacha Dench talks with osprey rescuers Jimmy and Kaitlin

Yet as ospreys return to a nesting platforms in the spring, the birds are unfortunately welcomed by one more sinister and deadly threat. This time it’s plastic waste.

Adults and young are particularly at risk of becoming entangled in plastic string, bags, containers, or monofilament fishing line. The2019 New Jersey Osprey Project Reportalsotells us that volunteers have started to remove trash and collect data from osprey nests. In 2019, out of 189 nests they monitored, 42% contained plastic debris. We live in a society where unfortunately plastic litter is very easy to find, and since the birds live close to humans, plastic trash are often found in their nests.

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Why Do Ospreys Migrate?

Why do it? If given a choice, I’m sure many ospreys would prefer to stay year-round in the same location to avoid a lengthy and stressful migration twice a year. But Alan F. Poole states in Ospreys: A Natural and Unnatural History, that ospreys need a good supply of fish to survive, which is not possible to find during the winter in North America. Poole writes that fish, “are cold-blooded and thus sensitive to changes in water temperature. When temperatures drop, most avoid the colder shallows and surface waters where Ospreys can reach them. Thus even where northern lakes and bays do no freeze in winter, Ospreys attempting to winter over would probably starve.”

Why do we care about ospreys?

These fish hawks play an important role in the health of an aquatic ecosystem. Ospreys help to provide balance among fish populations and keep fish populations genetically healthy by eating sick or scrawny individuals. Ospreys are also a valuable indicator species for monitoring the long-term health of an aquatic ecosystem. Birds of prey are extremely sensitive to many environmental changes in an ecosystem. Since an osprey’s diet consists almost entirely of live fish, an abundance of nesting ospreys with many hungry young suggests water quality and fish populations might be improving to support many hungry beaks and gizzards.

What you can do to help protect ospreys:

  • Avoid getting too close to nesting sites during the breeding season. Always maintain a respectful distance from wild animals. Always carry binoculars to view wildlife from afar. If an animal vocalizes when you're near, you are too close! Immediately back off.

  • Restore coastal and wetland habitat.

  • Preserve existing coastal habitat, including wetlands and dunes.

  • Help keep local waters clean, healthy, and safe.

  • Recycle used fishing Line.

  • Volunteer to help members of Save Coastal Wildlife install new nesting platforms at wetland sites along the Jersey Shore. Artificial nesting platforms are generally more stable and safer than the natural nesting areas (usually dead trees).Nesting success is also commonly twice as high on artificial sites compared to natural sites.

If you don’t live near an osprey nest, you can always watch the action online. There are many osprey nests on the web to watch. In 2019, The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey installed a new osprey cam in Barnegat Light. The action can be seen here http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/education/ospreycam/

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Joseph Reynolds

(Video) 2020 -- Year Of The Warbler: Saturday Seminar by Matt Felperin

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FAQs

Why do ospreys migrate? ›

The main reason for migrating north is the long hours of daylight enjoyed there during summer. While nesting, the father hunts fish by sight to feed the whole family - longer daylight hours means more opportunity to catch enough food to go round.

Why are ospreys special? ›

This versatile, self-deployable aircraft offers increased speed and range over other rotary-wing aircraft, enabling Air Force Special Operations Command aircrews to execute long-range special operations missions. The CV-22 can perform missions that normally would require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

In which season it osprey it is migrate? ›

Ospreys nest in spring and summer throughout much of North America. Watch for them along rivers, lakes, bays, and coastlines. Most are migratory, heading south in September. Ospreys may log more than 160,000 air miles over a lifetime.

What are the threats to ospreys? ›

Ospreys are seen as competition to fish stocks and persecuted in some areas; in some areas; they are at risk to getting tangled in discarded fishing nets and the ingestion of plastic - similar to many other species which rely on water bodies; and also, the chance of colliding with human built structures, such as power ...

How long do Ospreys migrate for? ›

These birds travelled an average distance of 6,7000 km (4,200 miles) at a rate of roughly 260 km (162 miles) per day, taking an average of 45 days to complete their journeys.

How long does osprey migration take? ›

The birds travel as much as 5,000 miles from the Amazon basin, across the Caribbean Sea and up the Atlantic Coast before they end up at their breeding site. An incredible winged migration that normally takes two to three, sometimes four weeks, from start to finish.

How do Ospreys help the environment? ›

The large birds are living repositories for chemicals: Perched at the top of their food web, they ingest all of the contaminants in every creature below them. As one chemical is banned, another takes its place in the environment. How do we know this? The ospreys tell us.

Why are Ospreys controversial? ›

The Osprey gained a reputation as unsafe following a series of crashes during its test phase, beginning with a malfunction in 1991 in which one of the nacelles caught fire. It has become a favored point of contention for locals in Okinawa in recent years, who protest the overall Marine Corps presence there.

Where do osprey birds migrate to? ›

Resident to long-distance migrant. Most Ospreys that breed in North America migrate to Central and South America for the winter, with migration routes following broad swaths of the eastern, interior, and western U.S. A few Ospreys overwinter in the southernmost United States, including parts of Florida and California.

Do osprey always migrate? ›

In North America, most populations migrate long distances, but in much of Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean Ospreys are sedentary. Migrants avoid wintering in areas where non-migrants breed and they exhibit fidelity to specific wintering areas and migration routes.

What time of day are ospreys most active? ›

When males, who do the majority of the fishing, have chicks to feed in midsummer, you can watch this drama at any time of day, though early in the morning and evening tend to be best. They patrol a variety of water bodies, from estuaries to rivers, reservoirs, fish farms and even small ponds.

Do ospreys eat little birds? ›

What they eat. Though Ospreys mainly eat live fish of a wide variety of species, the types of prey they might catch are quite diverse. Snakes, birds, frogs, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, and other invertebrates can all fall prey to the deft, sharp talons of an Osprey.

Do eagles and osprey get along? ›

Opportunistic bald eagles and ospreys share much of the same habitat, so ospreys are frequently the victims of nest raids by the eagles.

What is the lifespan of an osprey? ›

When food is scarce, the first chicks to hatch are most likely to survive. The typical lifespan is 7–10 years, though rarely individuals can grow to as old as 20–25 years. The oldest European wild osprey on record lived to be over thirty years of age.

Where do Ospreys go at night? ›

The ospreys seem to prefer to sleep or roost in nearby trees, much like the eagles. When the female osprey is close to laying the first egg, she sometimes spends the night in the nest.

Do osprey come back to the same nest each year? ›

Ospreys tend to return to the same nest year after year. Upon arrival, both the male and female osprey update the nest with the latest and greatest materials.

Do Ospreys eat the whole fish? ›

Do Ospreys eat the whole fish? An Osprey can swallow a whole fish at once only when it is very small. Most fish are taken to a perch where the bird tears small chunks to ingest.

What is a group of osprey called? ›

The name for a group of Ospreys is a Duet. This is a fitting name for two reasons: the first is that the Osprey is mostly solitary, usually only pairing up for the breeding season. The other reason is that males and females have different vocal ranges, so when they call to each other it sounds a bit like a duet.

What states have osprey? ›

In North America, osprey breed from Alaska to Nova Scotia south to the Great Lakes states and along both coasts of the United States. Breeding osprey are also found along the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas, and on some of the Caribbean Islands.

Is an osprey a hawk or an eagle? ›

Ospreys are very large, distinctively shaped hawks. Despite their size, their bodies are slender, with long, narrow wings and long legs. Ospreys fly with a marked kink in their wings, making an M-shape when seen from below.

Do Ospreys eat saltwater fish? ›

The osprey is also called the 'fish hawk', as it is well adapted for hunting fish. The Osprey is the only hawk on the continent that eats almost exclusively live fish. In North America, more than 80 species of live fresh- and saltwater fish account for 99 percent of the Osprey's diet.

What does it mean when an osprey visits you? ›

Native American Osprey Symbolic Meanings

Seeing an Osprey warns you of danger. As a Medicine Bird, the Osprey coming to someone in a vision reveals the person may become an exceptional healer.

Why are Ospreys good at catching fish? ›

Amazingly keen eyesight and wing maneuverability are needed to guarantee a grip on its prey. The osprey's sharp and curved talons pierce the unsuspecting fish, while the gripppy, ridged skin on the underside of their feet, called 'spicules' prevent the fish from slipping away.

Who eats the osprey? ›

Do any animals eat osprey? Adult ospreys do not have many predators, although great horned owls and bald eagles have been known to sometimes kill osprey chicks and adults. The primary predator is the raccoon, who will steal and eat osprey eggs found in nests.

Do Ospreys pair for life? ›

Osprey pairs are generally monogamous and often mate for life. The male selects a nesting site in a dead tree, on a cliff, or on a man-made structure in or near the water. The pair collects sticks and other nesting materials together, but the female generally arranges the nest, which is large and bulky.

Is a osprey a predator or prey? ›

The male osprey is a formidable predator, himself. He is a very large raptor, a bird of prey, with an average body length of two feet and a wingspan of over six feet. His sharp hooked, cycle shaped, beak easily tears flesh from his adversaries, not to mention razor sharp talons with death grip strength.

Are ospreys any good? ›

Is an Osprey Backpack worth it? While Osprey backpacks do come with a higher price tag, they're worth it for the quality they bring and the number of options. Whether you want to get a backpack for travel, day trips, hiking, or just to have, they have all kinds of sizes, features, and more.

Are Osprey and eagles enemies? ›

Bald eagles are known to compete with ospreys where their nesting territories overlap. Eagles often harass ospreys by chasing them, especially when they have a fresh catch, and eagles almost always win the chase.

Is an Osprey a fish eating bird? ›

Osprey family

Ospreys are a specialised, fish-eating bird of prey, most similar to the buzzards or eagles in general appearance. Seen in flight from below, the osprey has white or slightly mottled underparts. They catch fish by diving and have a long hook on their bill to tear them apart.

Is it rare to see an osprey? ›

Bird's Eye View: Ospreys are a rare sight, but when they do appear, it's a majestic sight.

Do ospreys return to where they were born? ›

Young Ospreys spend approximately 18 months in the wintering grounds after leaving the nest. Following that, they return to their natal area to breed. Most birds banded as nestlings returned and nested within 15 to 40 kilometers of where they were born.

Is osprey a migratory bird? ›

The osprey populations in tropical and subtropical regions are sedentary. The osprey birds from Europe migrate to Africa for wintering. The North American birds move southwards for wintering.

Are ospreys aggressive? ›

Aggression occurs primarily in the presence of food, but can also be triggered by other stress. Ospreys are territorial around the nesting site and chase away other Ospreys, as well as other species that present a threat to the nest.

Why do ospreys skim water? ›

Their feet have a great deal of vascularization, so the blood would be cooled by dragging the feet through the lake.

Why does the osprey let the eagle take its fish? ›

2. Why does the osprey let the eagle take its fish? The osprey is scared by the eagle as the eagle is bigger.

What are Ospreys favorite food? ›

Almost entirely fish. Typically feeds on fish 4-12" long. Type of fish involved varies with region; concentrates on species common in each locale, such as flounder, smelt, mullet, bullhead, sucker, gizzard shad. Aside from fish, rarely eats small mammals, birds, or reptiles, perhaps mainly when fish are scarce.

What do Ospreys do when it rains? ›

Ospreys nest near water in a tall tree or on a tower, where they're exposed to the elements, including direct sunlight which can sometimes produce scorching temperatures. At other times, they're pounded by rain, as they protect their young. When the storm's over, it's back to feeding those hungry young birds.

How many fish do osprey eat in a day? ›

This means that males have to catch up to 10 fish each day for the female and the chicks. The parents tear the fish into small pieces for the chicks to eat. Osprey parents hunt fish for their chicks until the chicks can survive on their own which is usually two to eight weeks after they begin flying.

Do osprey eat squirrels? ›

Ospreys eat a tiny percentage of voles, birds, snakes, squirrels and muskrats (which make up around just 1% of their diet).

Will an osprey take a small dog? ›

Ospreys eat fish. They would not attack a dog.

Will ospreys eat mice? ›

On rare occasions, Ospreys have also been known to prey on rodents, rabbits, hares, other birds, and small amphibians and reptiles.

Do osprey eat geese? ›

25 m of the perch, identified the prey as a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) gosling. The gosling was flapping its wings as the Osprey began to tear pieces of flesh from the gosling's back.

How big a fish can an osprey carry? ›

An Osprey's wings are long and broad like an Eagle's wings to help them lift off after nabbing a fish. But these birds do have a limit of 4 to 5 pounds if they want to get airborne with their catch. Any catch heavier than that and they risk the possibility of drowning.

What bird is bigger than an osprey? ›

Bald Eagles are larger than Osprey. Adults have a clean white tail and dark body, whereas Osprey have a banded tail and a white body.

What happens when one osprey dies? ›

Osprey usually mate for life

Ospreys usually mate for life. Males and females form long-term relationships that last as long as they live. If one bird dies or disappears, the remaining bird will find a new mate and continue breeding with the new partner.

Do male and female Ospreys look the same? ›

The difference in plumage between male and female Ospreys include: Dark feathers in the chest: Typically, most females have more spots and streaks on the chest. Some females show a dark chest band. Most males have fewer chest spots and streaks and in some individulas the chest is nearly pure white.

Do ospreys migrate? ›

Resident to long-distance migrant. Most Ospreys that breed in North America migrate to Central and South America for the winter, with migration routes following broad swaths of the eastern, interior, and western U.S. A few Ospreys overwinter in the southernmost United States, including parts of Florida and California.

Where do osprey birds go in the winter? ›

Most Ospreys that nest in Canada migrate in spring from wintering sites in Latin America and the northern part of South America.

Where do American ospreys migrate? ›

Do ospreys migrate? Ospreys migrate to West Africa for the winter, covering up to 5,000 km during their journey. Autumn migrations can be as short as 13 days of continuous flight. The female typically begins her migration first, leaving the nest and her young shortly after they are fledged.

Where do ospreys migrate to in summer? ›

Most Ospreys are considered long-distance migrants. These are birds that spend the winter in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is Summertime. These Ospreys settle in the entire length of South America down to Chiloe Islands, over 7,000 miles from the nest sites of Osprey breeding in Maine, Canada, and Alaska.

What is a group of ospreys called? ›

The name for a group of Ospreys is a Duet. This is a fitting name for two reasons: the first is that the Osprey is mostly solitary, usually only pairing up for the breeding season. The other reason is that males and females have different vocal ranges, so when they call to each other it sounds a bit like a duet.

Do eagles go after ospreys? ›

Opportunistic bald eagles and ospreys share much of the same habitat, so ospreys are frequently the victims of nest raids by the eagles.

Does osprey return to same nest every year? ›

Ospreys tend to return to the same nest year after year. Upon arrival, both the male and female osprey update the nest with the latest and greatest materials.

What do ospreys do when it rains? ›

Ospreys nest near water in a tall tree or on a tower, where they're exposed to the elements, including direct sunlight which can sometimes produce scorching temperatures. At other times, they're pounded by rain, as they protect their young. When the storm's over, it's back to feeding those hungry young birds.

Do ospreys eat the whole fish? ›

Do Ospreys eat the whole fish? An Osprey can swallow a whole fish at once only when it is very small. Most fish are taken to a perch where the bird tears small chunks to ingest.

Where do ospreys go at night? ›

The ospreys seem to prefer to sleep or roost in nearby trees, much like the eagles. When the female osprey is close to laying the first egg, she sometimes spends the night in the nest.

Do Ospreys live at the beach? ›

Their habitats are typically located near water, both fresh and salt, for easy access to prey. Nesting can often take place along seashores, coastal estuaries, salt marshes, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers.

What kind of fish do osprey eat? ›

Almost entirely fish. Typically feeds on fish 4-12" long. Type of fish involved varies with region; concentrates on species common in each locale, such as flounder, smelt, mullet, bullhead, sucker, gizzard shad. Aside from fish, rarely eats small mammals, birds, or reptiles, perhaps mainly when fish are scarce.

Do Ospreys fish in salt water? ›

They fish in both fresh and salt water; hence they can be found near rivers, lakes, large stream, reservoirs, coastal estuaries, salt marches, and ocean shores.

Videos

1. A Look Back at The Rutland Osprey Project with Abi Mustard
(Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust)
2. Spring Migration
(Ray Hennessy)
3. The Human Swan | Sacha Dench (Conservation Without Borders)
(Conservation Careers)
4. Birds of Conservation Concern
(Natural History Society of Northumbria)
5. Spring Migration for Wildlife Photography
(Wildlife Inspired w/ Scott Keys)
6. Ospreys 2021 - The Revival of a Global Raptor with Alan Poole, Ph.D.
(PelicanIslandAudubon)
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