August 22, 2014

Osprey

Osprey
(Pandion haliatus), often know as the fish hawk because it feeds exclusively on fish, lives throughout Maine, fishing and nesting along the State’s rivers, lakes and ponds. Osprey measure about 24 inches in length with dark brown feathers on their back and upper winds and white on their head (with a dark brown cheek patch), breast, belly and underwings. The osprey is perhaps best recognized from afar by its high- pitched piercing whistle.

Osprey have a unique fishing style. After spotting its target, sometimes from as high as 100 feet, the Osprey dives head first towards the water pulling up only at the last minute to grab the fish with its talons. Osprey almost always catch and eat their fish live.

Osprey usually mate for life. The female chooses the male on the basis of the quality and location of the nest he builds. The nest resembles a large basket built out of sticks, and can often be seen in the tops of dead trees. Osprey pairs will often come back to the same nest year after year when they return from winter migration.

The number of osprey in Maine declined drastically because of DDT and other pesticides during the 1950s and 60s, but have since recovered after DDT and some of the more toxic pesticides were banned. Today osprey are a common sight along Maine’s coast, rivers, and lakes.