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ID Info
Osprey by Brian Kushner
Silhouette OspreyOsprey
OspreyPandion haliaetus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Pandionidae

Basic Description

Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

More ID Info
image of range map for Osprey
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Near open water with an abundant supply of fish, listen for the Osprey’s whistling or chirping calls overhead, or look for this bird's distinctive flight profile and heavy wingbeats. From spring into fall, a boat or raft on a lake or river can provide an especially good vantage point. Scan treetops and other high spots along the shore for perched adults and untidy stick nests piled atop a platform, pole, or snag out in the open.

Other Names

  • Águila Pescadora (Spanish)
  • Balbuzard pêcheur (French)

Backyard Tips

If you live near water, consider putting up a nest platform to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. You'll find plans for building a nest structure of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

  • Cool Facts