›      ›   Osprey - Pandion haliaetus.

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) belongs to the family Pandionidae. The osprey species is distributed in Indian Subcontinent, Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and Americas.

Taxonomy of Osprey

  • Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus
  • Common Name: Osprey
  • French: Balbuzard pêcheur; German: Fischadler; Spanish: Águila pescadora;
  • Other names: Falco haliaetus Linnaeus, 1758; fish eagle; sea hawk; river hawk; fish hawk;
  • Family: Pandionidae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pandion haliaetus was earlier included in the genus Falco. The four recognized subspecies are: P. h. haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758), P. h. carolinensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1788), P. h. ridgwayi Maynard, 1887 and P. h. cristatus (Vieillot, 1816).

Indian birds - Image of Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Indian birds - Osprey - Pandion haliaetus


The osprey is a large bird, measuring 55 to 60 cm in length and weighing 1,000 to 1,800 grams. The female osprey bird is larger and weighs 1,200 to 2,000 grams. The wingspan is 120 to 175 cm. It is glossy brown on the upper parts. The head and underparts are greyish white. The dark patch across the eyes reaches to the sides of the neck. The irises of the eyes are golden to brown, and the transparent nictitating membrane is pale blue. The feet are white with black talons. The tail of osprey is short. The wings are narrow and long, with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth. The osprey bird call is cheep, cheep or yewk, yewk. When disturbed it may make a sharp sound 'cheereek'.


The osprey prefers shallow, fresh, brackish or marine habitats. It is found fishing in ponds, lakes, marshes, lagoons and creeks.

Feeding habits

The main feed of osprey bird is fish. It plunges feet first into water and grabs the fish with its talons. Occasionally, the osprey may feed on rodents, frogs and other birds.


The breeding season of osprey birds varies with region. They construct nest on high trees, rocky outcrops and manmade structures, closer to water sources. The nest is a platform of twigs, sticks and plant material. They are monogamous. Two to four eggs are laid and the parents take care of the chicks.


The osprey bird subspecies P. h. haliaetus is distributed in Europe, Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and Indian Subcontinent. The subspecies P. h. carolinensis is distributed in North America and South America. The subspecies P. h. ridgwayi is distributed in Caribbean. The subspecies P. h. cristatus is distributed in Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Movement Patterns

The osprey populations in tropical and subtropical regions are sedentary. The osprey birds from Europe migrate to Africa for wintering. The North American birds move southwards for wintering.

Status and conservation

The osprey species has an extremely large range and it is considered least vulnerable. The global osprey population is estimated at 460,000 individual birds. Hunting of adult birds, collection of eggs, use agricultural pesticides, disturbance in breeding habitats and feeling of tall trees are the main threats in the conservation.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these Osprey birds and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Pandion haliaetus
Species:P. haliaetus
Binomial name:Pandion haliaetus
Distribution:Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Australia, Africa and Americas;
Feeding habits:fish;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

Popular posts in Birds of India

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Osprey._(Pandion_haliaetus).jpg
Image Author: מינוזיג | Image License: CC BY-SA 4.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Osprey - Pandion haliaetus.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.