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Identification - Pictures  and Video

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), also called Fish or Sea hawk is about 23 to 24 1/2 inches.

OspreyThis large majestic hawk dives in the water for fish, becoming completely submerged.  The head is mostly white with a white crest, and a black mask through the eyes.  It is blackish above, and clear-white below.  The tail has alternating brown, and white bands.  The sexes look similar.

The wing span is reaches 6 feet.  It flies with a crook in its wing showing a black carpal patch contrasting with the mostly whitish under side of its wings.  

The Osprey's large strong talons are designed for catching, and carrying fish.  They have four toes. The outer toe can be rotated so that it extends to the rear of the foot allowing them to seize fish with two claws on each side of the fish. 

 Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D and a 70 to 300 zoom lens.  

Video below is an Osprey flying over a river and diving in.  For other bird videos please visit our Youtube channel and subscribe or like our videos.

Most videos on my site were taken with the Canon HG10 camcorder.


This member of the raptor family is one of the widest spread birds of prey, and is found on every continent except Antarctica.  The summer range for American birds extends from Alaska across Canada, and parts of the U.S., migrating south in winter.

It lives near bodies of water with fish in them, such as Rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and along the coast. 

Breeding and Nesting

At the start of mating season Ospreys do air displays where the male repeatedly flies high into the air, hovers for a few seconds, and dives.  The female may participate in this while pursuing the male.  Osprey pairs do courtship feeding while in flight.  They usually pair for life.  Osprey nest

They build large nest on dead trees, artificial structures such as utility poles, or the many nesting platforms put up for them by man.  The nest consists of branches lined with grass, twigs, moss, bark, and other materials such as ropes, cloth, or plastic.  Once it is constructed the nest will usually be used year after year with more branches added each year often resulting in huge nests.

After the female lays 2 to 4 creamy-white eggs with reddish-brown spots, both birds will incubate them for 32 to 38 days.  The female will stay with newly hatched young while the male brings food.  When the young birds can be left alone both parents will bring food.  Young birds will fledge in around 45 days.

Sound of Osprey

A chirping sound, often loud.


Ospreys hover over the water, and when a fish is spotted they plunge feet first to grab it.  When in flight they will turn the head of the fish forward allowing for more streamlined transport through the air.  Although they feed mostly on fish, they will eat small animals if fish are scarce.

To learn about other favorite birds click here.

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