Osprey in Jasper, Alberta's Rockies

Osprey in Jasper, Alberta Tours
  • Osprey
  • Photos By Paul & Coral Hamilton

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(Pandion haliaetus) Osprey

Osprey or more specifically, the western osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk is a fish-eating bird of prey. The Osprey is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.

Osprey live in a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. Osprey are found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it only occurs as a non-breeding migrant.

Unusual to the Osprey, it survives almost worldwide. Even the few subspecies are not unequivocally separable.

Osprey Description

The osprey is 0.9-2.1 kg (2.0-4.6 lb) in weight and 50-66 cm (20-26 in) in length with a 127-180 cm (50-71 in) wingspan. It is, thus, of similar size to the largest members of the Buteo or Falco genera. The subspecies are fairly close in size, with the nominate subspecies averaging 1.53 kg (3.4 lb), P. h. carolinensis averaging 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) and P. h. cristatus averaging 1.25 kg (2.8 lb). The wing chord measures 38 to 52 cm (15 to 20 in), the tail measures 16.5 to 24 cm (6.5 to 9.4 in) and the tarsus is 5.2-6.6 cm (2.0-2.6 in).