Back to the home page  
Canada's Species   Birds


Pandion haliaetus

Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center
Osprey. Photo:Mont St-Hilaire Nature Center

The osprey is a large powerful raptor that breeds along large rives, lakes, and coasts throughout the world; virtually anywhere it can find adequate supplies of fish in shallow water. To capture its prey, the osprey hovers as high as 30 - 40 meters above the water. When a fish approaches the surface, the osprey dives feet first into the water. If it's lucky, it will return to the nest with a meal. In the nest, the fish is either consumed whole, or handed over to hungry young osprey, which consume roughly 1 kg of fish per day. Osprey nests are bulky, cumbersome structures made of dry sticks, usually placed at the top of a live or dead tree, utility pole, or large rock. Osprey continue to add on to their nests, which are used year after year. In fact, individual nests have been used for more than 100 years. Because of the osprey's high position in the food chain, accumulation of the pesticide DDT led to a dramatic crash in osprey populations between the 1950's and 1970's. Since then, use of DDT has been banned, artificial nest platforms have been built, and critical habitat has been protected. The result: osprey populations have recovered considerably.

Map of Osprey in Canada
Distribution of Osprey in Canada

Back to the main Birds page  
Previous species: Bald Eagle  
Next species: Turkey Vulture