Osprey

(Pandion haliaetus)

Osprey
Parent Ospray on watch at Lacoda Oregon
Osprey
Only a parent could love (below)
Osprey
Osprey
Note fledgling eyes (above)
Osprey
Osprey
Fledglings
Osprey
Woodland, WA nest below
osprey
osprey
osprey
osprey
osprey

Oldtimers will call this bird a 'fish hawk.' It’s diet consists entirely of fish. You can see osprey most commonly on the coasts of both sides of the U.S. and also along inland rivers, lakes, and streams in Canada, the Great Lakes area, and the mountain states, from about April to September. To spot osprey, look for platform nests in tall dead trees, on pilings, cell phone towers, telephone poles, and similar natural and manmade perches. Wherever you see an osprey nest (it looks like a pile of messy sticks) you can be sure there is an ocean, river or stream nearby as the osprey like to nest where they can fish. You may see them take off from a tall perch to dive and plummet into the water to catch a fish. Then you may see them rise up out of the water, shake themselves and fly off to their next with a fish held headfirst (for aerodynamics) in its talons.

Osprey have a complete migration which means that they are in Mexico, Central America and South America when they aren’t in the north states.

Ospreys raise one brood per year. There will be 2-4 eggs with brown markings. Both the male and female do the incubating for 32-42 days, though the female does most of it with the male mostly catching the food. If you get anywhere near a nest with young in them, you may hear their sharp, shrill cry which can get monotonous (a rapid 'cheap, cheap, cheap'). The young fledge in 58-58 days.

Osprey are about 24" tall with a 6-foot wingspan. They have a white chest and belly, and the wings are large and dark brown. The head is white with a black streak across the eyes. The female looks as though she is wearing a brown-steaked necklace. If you see the osprey flying and you are directly below it, you may see dark wrist patches near the tips of its wings. When flying, wings are held in an arched position.

The main enemy to the osprey is the bald eagle as the eagle will try to steal fish from the osprey. The osprey will twist and turn in flight when pursued by an eagle. If the eagle gets to close to a nest with young, the adult osprey will vigorously fight off the eagle.

Around Oregon you can see osprey in the following places: along the Oregon Coast, along the Columbia River from the gorge downstream, Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene, the upper Rogue River, and Sauvie Island - to name a few. However, you can see the osprey worldwide.

The lower batch photos here were taken on the end of Caples Road West of Woodland, WA with Columbia City, OR in the background. The upper group were taken 7/21/15 in the Johns Drainage district near Lacoda, Oregon (downstream of Mayger)

by Martha Van Natta

Additional information: see Wikpedia - Osprey

- - Updated 11/15/2015
- - Updated 5/29/2014