Common: Osprey, Sea Hawk, River Hawk, and Fish Hawk
Scientific: Pandion haliaetus
Appearance: The osprey differs in several respects from other diurnal birds of prey. Its toes are of equal length, its tarsi are reticulate, and its talons are rounded, rather than grooved. The osprey and owls are the only raptors whose outer toe is reversible, allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind. This is particularly helpful when they grab slippery fish. The upperparts are a deep, glossy brown, while the breast is white, sometimes streaked with brown, and the underparts are pure white. The head is white with a dark mask across the eyes, reaching to the sides of the neck. The irises of the eyes are golden to brown, and the transparent nictitating membrane is pale blue. The bill is black, with a blue cere, and the feet are white with black talons. On the underside of the wings the wrists are black, which serves as a field mark. A short tail and long, narrow wings with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth, give it a very distinctive appearance. The sexes appear fairly similar, but the adult male can be distinguished from the female by its slimmer body and narrower wings.
Distribution: It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
Habitat: Osprey will always be found on the edges of water, in lakes, rivers or the sea. Their diet is 99% fish. Ospreys have a vision that is well adapted to detecting underwater objects from the air. They catch fish by diving into a body of water, oftentimes completely submerging their entire bodies. As an osprey dives it adjusts the angle of its flight to account for the distortion of the fish’s image caused by refraction. Ospreys will typically eat on a nearby perch but have also been known to carry fish for longer distances.