OSPREY. Pandion haliaetus
IDENTIFICATION. Both sexes have the same plumage colouration. The head, sat upon the unusually long neck, is small and white, with dark streaking on the crown. A dark brown bar proceeds from behind the eye to the body. The cere and feet of the Osprey are light blue which is often only seen in young falcons and adult Gyrs . The upper part of the wings, back and tail are dark brown giving the appearance of a brown bird when at rest. However the body and legs are pale with a 'bib' of light brown feathers around the upper breast. Looking up at the Osprey in flight the long wings are tipped with dark brown primary feathers and the tail is barred, terminating in a thicker dark bar.
Occasionally mistaken for pale buzzards or when in flight Red Kites.
IN FLIGHT. A steady flight with regular wing beats not unlike the Red Kites 'gull-like' style. Will also soar. When hunting it can be seen hovering over water before diving feet first to seize its prey. On exiting the water the Osprey will shake the water from its oiled feathers before positioning its prey aerodynamically in its talons for flight.
DISTRIBUTION. Scotland and the North of England, although the Osprey can be seen almost anywhere in the UK as they make their Spring and Autumn migrations to Africa. The Osprey prefers lakes, rivers and coastal areas, with tall trees or platforms for nesting.
WHEN SEEN. Late spring to autumn.
FOOD. Fish from both fresh and salt water, including trout, pike and mullet. Sometimes described as 'sticky footed' young Ospreys have been known to drown if the prey they catch is to heavy for them to lift from the water.
BREEDING. April. 2 to 4 eggs laid in large tree or cliff nests. Eggs are incubated from between 35 and 38 days, flying 51-59 days after hatching.
SIZE. 50-58cm (20-23in)
WINGSPAN. 145cm - 170cm (4ft 9in- 5ft 7in)
CALL. A rare cheep
Not generally used in falconry.
NB. If you buy one of these raptors it should be fitted with a closed leg ring and have an Article 10 form with it (any queries check with DEFRA).