|Conservation status||Was seriously endangered by effects of pesticides in mid-20th century; since DDT and related pesticides were banned in 1972, Ospreys have made a good comeback in many parts of North America.|
|Habitat||Rivers, lakes, coast. Found near water, either fresh or salt, where large numbers of fish are present. May be most common around major coastal estuaries and salt marshes, but also regular around large lakes, reservoirs, rivers. Migrating Ospreys are sometimes seen far from water, even over the desert.|
Flies slowly over water, pausing to hover when fish spotted below; if fish is close enough to surface, the Osprey plunges feet-first, grasping prey in its talons.
3, sometimes 2-4. Creamy white, blotched with brown. Incubation is by both parents but mostly by female, about 38 days. Young: Female remains with young most of time at first, sheltering them from sun and rain; male brings fish, female feeds them to young. Age of young at first flight averages about 51-54 days. 1 brood per year.
Female remains with young most of time at first, sheltering them from sun and rain; male brings fish, female feeds them to young. Age of young at first flight averages about 51-54 days. 1 brood per year.
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.
Courtship displays include pair circling high together; male may fly high and then dive repeatedly in vicinity of nest site, often carrying a fish or stick. Nest site is usually on top of large tree (often with dead or broken top) not far from water. Also nests on utility poles, duck blinds, other structures, including poles put up for them. May nest on ground on small islands, or on cliffs or giant cactus in western Mexico. Site typically very open to sky. Nest (built by both sexes) is bulky pile of sticks, lined with smaller materials. Birds may use same nest for years, adding material each year, so that nest becomes huge.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Some are permanent residents in southern Florida; migratory elsewhere. Migrants travel singly, not in flocks, often following coastlines, lake shores, rivers, or mountain ridges.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLoud musical chirping.
Learn more about this sound collection.