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Osprey Pandion haliaetus


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credit: Mike Baird/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly brown upperparts, except for the pale crown; underparts generally look pale white; body is mostly unmarked, except for streaked chest band (most obvious in females). In flight, seen from below, inner wing coverts are pale except for dark carpal patch, while flight feathers have dark brown barring; note the dark terminal band on the barred tail. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but dark elements of plumage are paler, back and upper wing covert feathers have pale margins, and nape and chest are often flushed orange-buff.

Dimensions Length: 21-24" (53-61 cm); Wngspn: 4' 6 "-6' (1.4-1.8 m)

Habitat Fairly common summer visitor to northern half of region. Associated with fish-rich lakes, rivers, and coasts. Most migrate south to Central and South America, but in southern states (notably Florida and Gulf coast) present year-round.

Observation Tips Usually easy to find on suitable wetland habitats within range. Spends long periods perched, often on a dead tree, and so careful scrutiny of waterside trees may be required. In some areas, they are bold enough to build their twiggy nests on manmade structures such as powerline poles and towers.

Range Southeast, Plains, Southwest, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, New England, Northwest

Voice Utters various whistling calls.

Discussion The classic fish-eating raptor, invariably seen near water. In soaring flight, with its rather long, narrow wings, it can look rather gull-like. However, fishing technique is unmistakable: typically hovers and then plunges, talons first, into water.