(Pandion haliaetus)

Photograph by
Snow W. Frost
Photograph by
Snow W. Frost
Photograph by
Snow W. Frost

It is the only raptor that will plunge into the water to catch fish. It can hover for a few seconds before diving. It carries fish in a head-first position during flight for beter aerodynamics. In flight, winga are angled (cocked) backward.

In spring, a person may see a pair soaring over nesting area, with higher bird diving down on lower bird.

Size: 24"

Male: Large eagle-like bird with white chest, belly and black brown back. White head with a black streak across eyes. Large wings with black "wrist" marks.

Female: Same as male, but with a necklace of brown streaking.

Nest: Platform; male and female build; 1 brood per year. Platform nest of sticks, twigs, and pine needles lined with Spanish moss and lichens is placed in treetop 60-130 feet high. Birds collect nest twigs by breaking them off trees with their talons, as they fly by. When mates exchange places on nest, they may call "eeep" or "keeawee".

Eggs: 2-4; white with brown marking.

Incubation: 32-42 days; female and male incubate.

Fledging: 48-58 days; female and male feed young.

Migration: Complete, to Mexico, Central America and South America, winters in Florida

Food: Fish. While flying, ctches in its talons and eats large insects; also lizards, snakes, frogs, and small birds. Several kites may feed together.

Voice: Interactions between pair are accompanied by calls like "eeep" and "lkeeckleelee".

In Flight: In all plumages, unmistakable. Long forked tail; underparts white except for tail and flight feathers, which are black.

Perched: Head, chest and belly white: back and long forked tail black.

Habitat: Woodlands near marshes or swamps.

My personal notes...

Ospreys are amazing to watch as they "hover" in place checking on a fish...then, with such accuracy scoop down with their claws out with such success! They seem to enjoy being in the very tip of a tall tree...odd to me, you would think it would select a firm branch on a tree instead of the weak fragile branches of the top of the tree...it sways around...interesting.

"Bird Wonderland"


Copyright 2003 Snow W. Frost
All rights reserved.
Reproduction without permission is strictly forbidden.