Osprey (fish hawk) • Pandion haliaetus
By Jan Baumgartner
Circling high above the Siesta Key shoreline, the osprey is the only North
American hawk who dines almost exclusively on live fish, both fresh- and saltwater.
It takes lots of protein (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) to fuel the exploits of this
large raptor weighing 2 to 4 pounds with a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet!
Osprey nests are usually built on treetops, cliffs, or even on man-made structures like antennas and
bridges. The nest’s height and open surroundings offer an easy approach and departure
while providing safety from ground predators like raccoons. Many generations may reuse
these sturdy nests which can grow to a sprawling 6 feet across and 12 inches deep.
The typical osprey clutch is two to four eggs. There can be as many as five days between the hatching of the first and last eggs.
Competition for food means older siblings have a decided advantage over younger ones. Osprey young, called eyas, take their first flight at 8 to 10 weeks old, become independent from their parents two to three months later, and begin their own families when they mature at 3 to 5 years old.