On many of our cruises we will see a massive Osprey nest one of the channel markers in the water. The size of this nest and the beautiful Osprey that live in it are just amazing. When I began doing my research to decide which species of bird I wanted to write about this month I thought of the Osprey and it’s astonishing nest and I immediately discovered what an amazing bird they are. These birds are the one single living species that are found nearly worldwide!
Some Osprey will migrate each year but in Australia they tend to stay year round. Also, in Florida and California some may migrate and others with decide to stay and enjoy our warm climate year round. Our American and Canadian Osprey, if they choose to migrate will usually winter in South America and then return home in the Spring.
In the springtime, when flowers are blooming, trees are beginning to exhibit signs of life these birds are beginning a 5 month courtship with their life mate to raise their young. The female will lay between 2 and 4 eggs that will be incubated for approximately 5 weeks. When the chicks hatch they will weigh approximately 50 - 60g (1.8 - 2.1 lbs) and will fully develop 8 - 10 weeks. The hatchlings have a 50% chance of survival from hatchling to flight. A mere 22% of the young will remain in the area they are born or return sometime in their life.
The Osprey do not necessarily return to the same nest each year but they will reuse previously built nests. Each season they will renovate previously built nests. Some of these nests have been being used for up to 70 years.
These striking birds will grow up to 0.9 - 2.1k (2.0 - 4.6 lbs), 50 - 60 cm (20 - 26 in.) tall and have a 127 - 180 cm (50 - 71 inc.) wingspan. A typical lifespan for these amazingly beautiful birds is only 7- 10 years. The oldest on record has lived to nearly 30 years old.
To recognize an Osprey look for a deep glossy brown on the upper parts of their body and their breast area will be white and sometimes have streaks of brown. Their underside is pure white and their head is white with a dark mask across their golden brown eyes. Their bills are black and at the base of the beak is blue. Their feet are white with black talons. The adult male can be distinguished by its slimmer body and narrower wings.
Osprey have joints in their wings which give them boundless flexibility. As the Osprey grow, their wings gradually develop this pronounced flexibility which gives them the ability to do things such as: Bending their wings to shield their eyes while in flight from the sun to aid in the safety of their flight.
Approximately 99% of their diet is from fish. These fantastic birds are able to sight their prey from 10 - 40 m (33 - 130 ft.) above the water. The bird will hover and then plunge feet first into the water for their prey. To protect themselves from the water Osprey have closeable nostrils to keep out water during their dive. Also, to aid them in catching their prey they have backwards facing scales on their talons. These scales act as barbs to help hold the fish as they scoop the fish up and fly away with it.
This is a video Captain recommended we watch and I’m glad he did! It’s an amazing presentation and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it also.
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