Monday, November 18, 2013


Chewk- Chewk- Chewk is the alarm call of the Osprey.

The Osprey or sea hawk is one of the most common birds of prey and is found on every continent except Antarctica.  Locally in the U.S. the Osprey is found everywhere on or near water, and they are not shy about living amongst humans.  The diet of the Osprey is almost completely comprised of fish and they are completely specialized for a life style on the water.
An adult Osprey

Common on almost every continent, the Osprey is a master of its craft as a fisher.  With a worldwide population over half a million, the Osprey is one of the most widespread birds of prey.  The Osprey is found in most temperate regions throughout the world, from Canada to Argentina and Ireland to North Africa.  Temperate zone Ospreys do migrate, typically with the changing of the seasons in most regions.

The Osprey is specially designed to hunt on water in many very interesting ways. Sporting long slender wings and a short tail, the Osprey’s wingspan measures up to 6 feet in large females.  The Osprey is specially equipped with an outer toe that can rotate toward the back toe to help catch and hold on to slippery fish.  The scales on the feet and legs are fashioned in an upward position and is opposite of all the other birds of prey. These upside down scales make the legs more hydrodynamic when the bird plunges completely into the water to catch a fish (Bald Eagles catch fish near the water’s surface).  The pads on the bottom of the Osprey’s feet are made up of tiny barb like bumps.   Even the nose holes (nares) of the Osprey can be closed, which comes in handy when the Osprey hits its prey below the surface of the water and then has to fly out of the water with the fish.

The Osprey is among just a few of the legendary and mythical creatures that have been recorded in human culture from the beginning.  This is probably due to the common connection to water and fishing that humans and Ospreys share.  They are able to coexist in and amongst humans quite successfully as long as they are respected. 

The Osprey is truly one of the world’s most successful and magnificent animals.  If you would like to see an Osprey up close, stake a stroll down the WBS display line and visit our resident Osprey, Bennett (from late March through mid November).

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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