Pandion haliaetus carolinensis



Osprey females are generally larger than the males. They have dark band markings on their eyes and under their tail wing. Known as fish-hawks these raptors can often be found gliding on their five-foot wing span around coastal areas.

Range & Habitat

This migratory species travels to South America for the winter and returns north in the spring to mate. They like to nest on shoreline structures on lakes, rivers and estuaries, close to their source of food (fish).

Diet & Behaviour

They only eat fish, diving dramatically into the waters to catch their lunch. When they catch a fish their claws lock around their prey. Some osprey have drowned while going after large fish because their claws could not unlock before they were dragged under the water.

Lifecycle & Threats

Osprey normally mate for life in their fifth or sixth year and the parents partake in rearing the young. The females protect and incubate the eggs while the males hunts for fish. A pair will often return to the same place each year to mate. The female produces three to four eggs in early April in large nests designed to conserve heat. Chicks can fly on their own within eight weeks. Osprey are here today due to intensive conservation action. They have been attacked by hunters and loss of habitat due to coastal development. In the 1970s a pesticide called DDT was also a major contributor to the decline of osprey.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

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Photo: Sergey Yeliseev