© Gareth Rasberry/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Ospreys, immature

Pandion haliaetus
Hawk-like Birds | Family: Hawks and Eagles, Accipitridae

An estimated 30% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.



Ospreys search for fish by flying and hovering over the water, watching the surface below. When prey is sighted, an Osprey dives steeply, its talons outspread, and splashes into the water. It quickly resurfaces and, if it has made a catch, flies off, adjusting the fish in its claws so that the head is pointed forward. Ospreys declined drastically because of pesticides during the 1950s and 1960s, but since then they have made a comeback and are nesting again in areas from which they had disappeared.  The Osprey is also the official bird of Nova Scotia.


21-24" (53-61 cm). W. 4' 6 "-6' (1.4-1.8 m). A large, long-winged "fish hawk." Brown above and white below; head white with dark line through eye and on side of face. Wing shows distinctive bend at "wrist." At a distance, can resemble a gull.


Loud musical chirping.


2-4 white, pink, or buff eggs, blotched with brown, in a bulky mass of sticks and debris placed in a tree, on a telephone pole, on rocks, or on flat ground.


Lakes, rivers, and seacoasts.


Breeds from Alaska, north-central Canada, and Newfoundland south to Arizona and New Mexico; also along Gulf Coast and on Atlantic Coast south to Florida. Winters regularly in North America north to Gulf Coast and California. Also in South America and Old World.