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The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_of_prey bird

Osprey
220px-Osprey mg 9605

Origin

Every continent but Australia and Antarctica

Habitat

Varies

Diet

99% fish and rarely small mammals, reptiles, and birds

Combat Status

Will fight the Barn Owl

of prey]. It 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, 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


DescriptionEdit

The Osprey is 0.9–2.1 kg (2.0–4.6 lb) in weight and 50–66 cm (20–26 in) with a 127–180 cm (50–71 in) wingspan. 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).[19][20] The upperparts are a deep, glossy brown, while the breast is white and sometimes streaked with brown, and the underparts are pure white. The head is white with a dark mask across the eyes, reaching to the sides of the neck.[21] The irises of the eyes are golden to brown, and the transparent nictitating membrane is pale blue. The bill is black, with a blue cere, and the feet are white with black talons.[6] A short tail and long, narrow wings with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth, give it a very distinctive appearance.[22]

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 underwing coverts of the male are more uniformly pale. It is straightforward to determine the sex in a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds.[22]

The juvenile Osprey may be identified by buff fringes to the plumage of the upperparts, a buff tone to the underparts, and streaked feathers on the head. During spring, barring on the underwings and flight feathers is a better indicator of a young bird, due to wear on the upperparts.[21]

In flight, the Osprey has arched wings and drooping "hands", giving it a gull-like appearance. The call is a series of sharp whistles, described as cheep, cheep or yewk, yewk. If disturbed by activity near the nest, the call is a frenzied cheereek![23] [1] Osprey call


DietEdit

Fish make up 99% of the Osprey's diet.[31] It typically takes fish weighing 150–300 grams (5–10 oz) and about 25–35 centimetres (10–14 in) in length, but the weight can range from 50 to 2000 grams (2–68 oz).

Ospreys have vision that is well adapted to detecting underwater objects from the air. Prey is first sighted when the Osprey is 10–40 metres (32–130 ft) above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water.[32]

The Osprey is particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes,[33] closable nostrils to keep out water during dives, and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch.

Occasionally, the Osprey may prey on rodents, rabbits, hares, amphibians, other birds,[34] and small reptiles.[35]

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