An osprey isn’t like the birds you probably see in your back yard. It’s bigger, and it soars high up in the air looking for its next meal.
These birds are common across most of the United States, but they didn’t use to be. From the 1950s to the 1970s, their population dropped dramatically. The birds were poisoned by a chemical being used to control insects. This caused their eggs not to hatch. Once the chemical was banned by the U.S. government, the osprey population began to rebound.
Here’s more information about these birds.
An osprey is a raptor, which is the family of birds that catch live animals to eat. Other raptors include hawks and eagles.
Ospreys eat mostly fish. In fact, 99 percent of their diet is fish. When they can’t find fish, they sometimes eat small mammals, birds and reptiles.
Because they eat fish, ospreys live near water. They prefer shallow water, including lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
They like to nest up high, often above water. Common nest sites are tall trees and telephone poles.
Ospreys have excellent fishing skills. They can plunge their feet into the water to catch fish near the surface. They also dive underwater.
Ospreys are sometimes confused with bald eagles because they are similar in appearance. Bald eagles are bigger than ospreys. The quickest way to tell them apart is by their heads. While bald eagle heads are entirely white, ospreys have a black or dark brown stripe by their eye.
The wingspan of an osprey is 5 feet. That’s taller than most 10-year-olds!
Birds have hollow bones, which helps them fly since they are more lightweight. Even though an osprey is a large bird, it only weighs between 3 pounds and 4 pounds.