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! Birds of this size need a nest that is equal to the task. Ospreys build platform nests of sticks and branches in treetops, cliffs, or even on man-made structures like antennas and bridges. Nest elevation combined with the open space around it affords safety from ground predators like raccoons. The unobstructed platform gives these majestic birds an easy approach and landing.
Tree bark, sod, grasses and vines lining the nest’s interior make it a cozy home for the next brood of chicks. Since multiple generations often reuse the platform, some nests may grow to over a foot deep and 3 to 6 feet in diameter — large enough for a human to sit in!
As Thanksgiving draws near, this osprey pair extend their warmest holiday wishes from their nest to yours.