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Field Guide for all the Birds of North America


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Pandion haliaetus

Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities

Species: The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) once known as the Fish Hawk, preys almost entirely on fish. It is seen mostly in the northern half of North America and its coastlines. The feet have long talons, with recesses on the toes, giving it the ability to catch and hold slippery fish in a firm grasp. Larger than buteos, with a wingspan almost comparable to an eagle, providing it the strength and power to fly out of the water with its catch. Sometimes, the Osprey itself is preyed upon by the Bald Eagle, which forces it to drop its catch, hence the eagle will pick up the fish for its own consumption.


Distinctions: Adults are similar in appearance. Mostly all white underneath, multiple dark bands on the tail. Long wings, with white and dark brown patterns, dark patches visible at front where the wings bend. White face with slight crest at back of its head, long curved beak made for tearing into a fish. Dark area behind the cheek and side of neck. Brown back and top of tail.

Voice: Multiple call notes, sounding like chirps, very recognizable.

Nesting: Two to three off white and brown spotted eggs, one brood per year. Nest built near waters, in mature trees, man-made platforms, utility poles, or the undercarriage of tall bridges. Nest is built very large in nature, using branches, sticks, twigs, leaves and softer materials. Used year after year and the nest is added to yearly.

Birds of North America
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Life, Habtat & Pictures of the North American Ospreys

B L W W W Family Latin Name
23" 58.4cm 63" 160cm 3.5lb. 1.6kg Pandionidae Pandion haliaetus

North American Bird Calls

  1. Click to hear Choice 1
  2. Click to hear Choice 2

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter
range map

Distribution: Forty years ago a very noticeable decline was noticed but today because of conservation, their population seems stable. Seen from Newfoundland through most of Quebec, except in the treeless regions, all the way throughout to the Aleutian Islands in Western Alaska, south into California and throughout the western US states. Along the Atlantic coast and into Florida during the winter months.

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds