Gr. phalkon falcon
La. falcula, falcis small sickle
(a reference to talons)
La. forma form, shape, kind
La. accipere to grasp, take
La. accipiter hawk
Gr. Pandion mythological King
Gr. hals sea
Gr. aetos eagle
Gr. haliaetos osprey
La. haliaetos sea-eagle
Two feet long, its narrow wings span five
feet. Top of head, throat, breast and belly white. Upper parts grayish brown.
Inhabits inland waters and coast lands from Alaska, Hudson Bay and
Newfoundland south to the Caribbean and northern South America.
Builds huge nests, often near other Osprey nests, of sticks, bones,
seaweed, even old shoes in trees from ten to seventy five feet high, on the ground in
colonies on isolated islands, and in parks, refuges and towns where they are accommodated
|Lays two or three, rarely four creamy white speckled eggs which hatch after about four
weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another two months. Adults mate for
life and return and add to the same nests year after year such that the nests may increase
to large proportions.
Flies slowly over the water searching
for fish, its sole food. When it spots one near the surface, it hovers for an instant,
then plunges splashing into the water, sometimes disappearing for a moment and finally
rising with its prey in flight to its favorite perch.
Below its nest accumulates a pile of
bones, scales, and indigestible parts.
If a successful hunt is
observed by a Bald Eagle it will chase the Osprey until it drops its meal. If the Bald
Eagle persists, several Ospreys may band together and drive it away. Occasionally an
Osprey sinks its talons into a fish so large it drowns the bird, sometimes both floating
to shore still attached.
|Thanks to the prohibition of DDT
and helpful nesting platforms, the Osprey has rebounded since its population decline in
the middle of the 20th century. Had there been an Endangered Species Act at the
time, it surely would have been on the list.
|The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
recommended a square platform 48 inches on each side for the Osprey. They
often attempt to nest on chimneys and many people provide platforms where Ospreys are