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


Date of this Version



J. Raptor Res. 48(4):309–324.


U.S. government work.


Most North American Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are migratory, breeding in northern latitudes and migrating long distances to and from their wintering grounds in the tropics. Although fall migration patterns of North American Ospreys have been described and studied, very little has been published about the spring migration of these birds. We used satellite telemetry to: (1) determine the characteristics (timing, duration, migratory routes) of spring migrations of Ospreys; (2) determine if differences in spring migration patterns existed between sexes and among three breeding populations (east coast, midwestern, and western); and (3) compare consecutive fall and spring migrations of individual Ospreys. The median dates for departure from the wintering grounds and arrival on the breeding grounds did not differ significantly between adult male and female Ospreys. Compared to their fall migrations, all male and all east coast Ospreys spent fewer days on migration, fewer days in stopover periods along the migration route, traveled shorter distances overall, and traveled farther (on average) each day during spring. In contrast, fall and spring migration characteristics of all female and western Ospreys were similar. Our findings suggest that, although sex and breeding location might influence the spring migration strategy used by individual Ospreys, both males and females minimize the time spent on migration to ensure a timely arrival on the breeding grounds to establish or defend a nesting territory.

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