U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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J. Raptor Res. 48(4):301–308.


U.S. government work.


Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are remarkable raptors. Their choice of conspicuous nest sites and surprising tolerance for nesting in nearly intimate association with humans render them an iconic piece of aquatic ecosystems in both marine and freshwater habitats across the northern hemisphere and much of Australasia (Australia to Indonesia). Wintering in Central and South America and Africa as well, they are among the few truly cosmopolitan birds of prey. Ecologically, they might be termed generalized specialists. They are, with exceptions so rare that they can safely be ignored, obligate fish eaters. From their talons to the tip of their bill, every bit of an Osprey’s morphology is adapted to taking fish from the water and consuming them efficiently. Beyond this specialization, however, they are remarkably catholic in the species of fish that they prey on (Poole et al. 2002). Inland, the predominant fish species caught vary from watershed to watershed. Along the coasts, the fish brought to the nest will change through the breeding season as different prey species migrate in and out of the hunting range of local populations.

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