Friday, May 15, 2009

Osprey!

When we posted on April 25th, we thought that the bird we took pictures of was an Eagle. Come to find out, it is an Osprey.

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching 24 inches in length with a 6 foot wingspan. It is brown on the upper parts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.

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

As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It has evolved specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognised. Despite its propensity to nest near water, the Osprey is not a sea-eagle.

The sexes appear fairly similar, but the adult male can be distinguished from the female by its slimmer body and narrower wings. The breast band of the male is also weaker than that of the female, or is non-existent, and the under wing coverts of the male are more uniformly pale. It is easy to determine the sex in a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds

These birds are amazing to watch. They kept flying in circles around the nest, keeping an eye on us as we took pictures.

We tried to take video of them, but the camera has a hard time keeping up with them and it doesn't stay focused on them very well.


3 comments:

Cedar ... said...

That last shot really shows the markings and the wingtips. Lots of osprey here. nice shots!

Farmgirl Cyn said...

Beautiful! You got some really incredible photos!

We saw an American Bald Eagle once here just off our property line. We spent an hour taking turns looking thru the binoculars!

Utah Grammie said...

Wow! Great shot of the nest and all! I've heard of Osprey but not too many here in the high dessert!