Osprey Facts

Osprey Facts
Osprey, also known as fish eagle or river hawk, is a bird that belongs to the group of fish-eating birds of prey. There are 4 subspecies of osprey that can be found on all continents except on the Antarctica. Osprey inhabits shores, islands and habitats near the rivers and lakes in the temperate and tropical areas. These birds were critically endangered during the 1950s and 1960s due to intensive usage of DDT (insecticide) which reduced reproductive potential of the ospreys (their eggs were thin-shelled or infertile). As soon as DDT was banned, population of ospreys started to recover. Ospreys are not on the list of endangered animals any more.
Interesting Osprey Facts:
Osprey can reach 21 to 23 inches in length and 3.1 to 4.4 pounds of weight.
Osprey is covered with brown (upper part of the body) and whitish-grey (lower part of the body) feathers. Head is white, except the black line that runs from the eyes.
Osprey has golden brown eyes, black beak and white feet with black talons.
Osprey has narrow wings that end with four long feathers. It has wingspan of 71 inches.
Osprey is diurnal animal (active during the day).
99% of osprey's diet consists of fish. Besides fish, osprey eats rodents, hares, reptiles and other birds.
Osprey uses its feet to grab fish. 50 to 80 percent of the fishing attempts end up successfully.
Osprey has X-shaped toes. Two toes are positioned forward and two backward to facilitate holding of the prey. Talons are equipped with backward-oriented scales which act like barbs that hold slippery fish firmly attached to the feet. Osprey holds fish parallel to its body during the flight to decrease resistance of the air.
Natural enemies of ospreys are raccoons which steal their eggs and Nile crocodiles which hunt adult birds when they land on the surface of water to catch fish.
Ospreys migrate to the south during the winter. They travel 160 to 170 miles per day during the migratory season.
Mating season of ospreys depends on the region. One couple often mates for a lifetime (even though they do not live together outside the breeding season).
Ospreys build nests on top of the trees, telephone poles and similar artificial structures. Female lays 2 to 4 eggs within a period of one month. Incubation of eggs lasts 5 weeks.
Chicks hatch at different time. Oldest chick has the greatest chances for the survival because it steals food from the weaker, younger chicks in the nest during the period of scarcity. Both parents participate in rearing of the chicks.
Ospreys learn to fly at the age of 7 to 8 weeks. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 to 4 years.
Ospreys can survive 20 to 25 years in the wild, but they usually live much shorter, from 7 to 10 years.

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