Osprey: Large raptor with dark brown upperparts and contrasting white underparts with faint breast band. Small, white head has a dark crown and eyestripe. Bill is dark. Wings are held at a distinct angle in flight, with underwing showing barred flight feathers and diagnostic dark patches on forewing. Legs and feet are gray. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has scaled upperparts.
Range and Habitat
Osprey: Worldwide distribution except Antarctica; found near large bodies of water. In North America, breeds from Alaska across most of subarctic Canada south to Florida, but not in the Great Plains. Winters in the southeastern U.S. and extreme southern California further south into Mexico and the West Indies.
Breeding and Nesting
Osprey: Three pink or white eggs, marked with olive and brown, are laid in a bulky nest made of sticks built in a large tree; sometimes nests in loose colonies. Incubation ranges from 35 to 40 days and is carried out by both parents.
Foraging and Feeding
Osprey: Feeds exclusively on fish, usually twice daily, in mid-morning and late afternoon. Forages by flying over water, hovering once prey is spotted, then diving into the water feet-first to grasp prey; sometimes lays on the water and rests, but eventually takes off to find a perch to eat its meal.
Osprey: Utters a short, tuneful whistle. Also makes alarm calls, begging calls, etc., in a voice that is, for the size of bird, most unimpressive.
Osprey: Bald Eagle is larger with an entirely white head and tail, and dark underparts and underwings.