Birds of Prey - Osprey
The family Accipitridae is a family of birds of prey and include hawks, eagles, kites, harriers and Old World vultures. These birds have very large powerful hooked beaks for tearing flesh from their prey, strong legs, powerful talons, and keen eyesight. There are 233 species world wide, 28 North American species, and 19 Florida species.
Osprey breed in a variety of habitats with shallow water and large fish, including boreal forest ponds, desert salt-flat lagoons, temperate lakes, and tropical coasts. They winter along large bodies of water containing fish.
Osprey are aerial divers. They dive feet-first into water to grab fish from near the surface. They are commonly seen hovering over water before they dive to catch their meal.
Osprey numbers declined drastically from 1950-1970s, from pesticide poisoning and eggshell thinning. After the ban on DDT, populations increased rapidly. Osprey are still listed as endangered or threatened in some states, especially in inland states where populations were small or extirpated after the pesticide years.
•The Osprey readily builds its nest on manmade structures, such as telephone poles, channel markers, duck blinds, and nest platforms designed especially for it. Such platforms have become an important tool in reestablishing Ospreys in areas where they had disappeared. In some areas nests are placed almost exclusively on artificial structures.
•Osprey eggs do not hatch all at once, but instead the first chick hatches out up to five days before the last one. The older chick dominates its younger siblings, and can monopolize the food brought by the parents. If food is abundant, little aggression is seen amongst the chicks, but if food is limited, the younger chicks often starve.
•The Osprey is a fish-eating specialist, with live fish accounting for about 99% of its diet. Barbed pads on the soles of its feet help it grip slippery fish. When an Osprey takes a large fish to its nest, it carries the fish headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible.