Osprey Facts

Osprey Statistics:

  • Common Name: Osprey
  • Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus
  • Adult length: male 56-60 cm, female 57-62cm
  • Adult wingspan: male 147-166cm, female 154-175cm
  • Adult weight: male 1.4-1.6kg, female 1.6-2.2kg
  • Age at first breeding: normally 3 to 5 years
  • No. eggs laid: usually 3
  • Incubation: between 35 and 42 days
  • Fledging: about 53 days
  • Diet: fish

Top 10 Facts:

  • Ospreys are found on all continents except Antarctica.
  • UK Ospreys are migratory, arriving in late March and April and leaving again, usually for West Africa, in August and September. They travel an average of 5000-6000 km each way.
  • Ospreys are fast fliers. During migration, they can travel an average of 320 km a day at 40 km/h.
  • Ospreys became extinct as a breeding bird in England in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. This was primarily due to persecution by Victorian egg and skin collectors and shooting to protect fish stocks.
  • Egg collecting remains one of the biggest threats faced by ospreys today.
  • Ospreys re-colonised naturally, breeding for the first time in Scotland in 1954 at Loch Garten, Abernethy Forest Reserve, and in England in 2001 at Bassenthwaite in the Lake District.
  • When fishing, ospreys carry their catch so that the fish faces forwards like a torpedo, minimising air resistance. Ospreys have a reversible outer toe to enable them to do this.
  • Adults can catch fish weighing over 1 kg, although the average catch is about 300-400g.
  • They are largely monogamous and strongly faithful both to nest and mate. One female osprey in Scotland bred on the same nest for over 20 years.
  • On average, an osprey nest is 120-150 cm wide and 50-200 cm deep. The largest osprey nest recorded was the size of a double bed.

And Finally:

  • Pandion was king of Athens. In ancient mythology, he was turned into a fish when he displeased the gods. Haliaetus is also a combination of Greek words, hals meaning “salt water” and aetos meaning “eagle”.