The osprey goes by many names – fish hawk, sea hawk, fish eagle, and river hawk – but all names seem to call out one particular characteristic of this powerful hunting bird, the fact that its diet is comprised almost entirely of fish. While this is certainly not the only unique characteristic of the osprey, it is currently the most well known.
The osprey is comfortable in many habitats, and can be found throughout the world and on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. It is one of only a few species of birds that can be found worldwide, making this truly a unique and spectacular creature. It is considered a diurnal raptor, though due to its unique hunting and catching behavior, the species has been given its own taxonomic genus.
Ospreys greatly resemble various species of hawks, a fact that is evident as del in many of its chosen nicknames. Ospreys can reach heights of around two feet, with wingspans that can reach six feet, making these truly majestic birds to be both feared and respected by their prey. Ospreys are easily distinguished from hawks by their unique wing patterns, which are long, narrow, and featuring four long and one short finger-like feathers, giving them a very distinct appearance of almost having hands on their wings. When in flight, these “hands” tend to droop heavily, giving the ospreys a more gull-like than hawk-like appearance in the air.
While the osprey almost exclusively feeds on fish, they have been known to eat small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and even other small birds as well. Because the osprey has excellent fine-tuned vision, they are able to detect their underwater prey from high above in the air. AFter hovering momentarily, the osprey plunges into the depths below to efficiently catch its lunch or dinner.
Although most osprey migrate to warmer climates during cold winter seasons, because the climate in Southern Florida is hospitable year-round, many osprey who make this area home choose to stay here throughout the year. Currently, osprey populations continue to thrive worldwide, and although populations were in danger at the beginning on the 20th century due to hunting by egg collectors, today this bird is both common and comfortable with its numbers and current habitats.
To enjoy osprey in the wild, take an airboat tour through the Florida Everglades, a national park that houses a very large population of osprey year-round. Airboat rides are fun, fast, and thrilling for the whole family, and the perfect opportunity to experience all of the amazing Florida wildlife that calls this area home.