Osprey (aka Fish Hawk)
Pandion haliaetus

Upper and lower photos courtesy Donna Bell, Flomaton, Alabama
Copyright (c) 2006 Donna Bell

Identification: Overall length of the osprey is 20 to 25 inches. The head is white, with a dark stripe through the eye. The body is brown above and mostly white below. The wings are long, crooked in flight, with a dark patch below at the bend. Its preferred habitat is usually near large bodies of water.

The osprey sights its prey while hovering, then plunges feetfirst into the water. Sharp talons pierce and lock into the fish when the bird rises. It is almost always carrying its catch head first. Ospreys nest on dead trees, floating buoys , utility poles and towers, and rarely on the ground. The stick nest may contain rope and miscellaneous debris that has washed up on shore, as well as sprigs of greenery. For many years the osprey was on the threatened species list.

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