Osprey - Raptor Around the World
The Osprey is a rather large bird, with a wingspan of around 6.5 ft (2 m) and a height of 24 in (60 cm). It is a powerful raptor and usually lives near large bodies of water. It is also known as a sea-hawk or fish-eagle, and it mainly feeds on fish.
Osprey differ from other birds of prey like eagles and falcons that are active during the day: their second outer toe is reversible. Like an owl, they can grab their prey with two toes at the front, and two at the back. Their toes are also the same length.
Highly Evolved Species
This is one of the few animals that have a single species that can be found all over the world. They are present at different times of the year in four continents. Antarctica is the one place they don't venture to. North American Osprey go to South America during the Northern hemisphere's winter season, and European Osprey fly to Southern Africa for the southern hemisphere's warm season.
Osprey eat fish almost exclusively. They hunt for fish weighing between 50 g and 2 kg (1.75 ounces to 4.4 lb). Besides having reversible toes, They also have backward-facing scales on their talons; these act as small barbs, that stick into the prey's skin. They can even close their nostrils during steep dives into the water below.
Their vision is highly developed and they can spot fish swimming beneath the surface of the water, from very high up. Typically, they will scout for prey from a height of 10 m to 40 m (32 ft to 131 ft). The attack is launched by hovering above the target, then diving straight down, feet first.
Ospreys love building big nests. The nests are located at strategic points, on utility poles, secluded rocky inlets at lagoons, or along the sea shore, on rocky outcroppings and in the forks of big tree branches. The nests are made of seaweed, sticks and driftwood. Nests are very often used year after year, for as long as 70 years. The nests are big, with some having a height of 6.5 ft (2 m).
Ospreys almost always mate for life and females lay four to five eggs at a time. Eggs take five weeks of incubation to hatch, and the young become fledglings after 70 days.
Usually they live for seven to ten years, but some have been known to live up to 25 years.