These 15 Osprey facts will give you a new appreciation of the incredible Osprey. The noble Osprey is a fascinating raptor. Ospreys are high on my list of favorite birds to photograph, mostly because they are such dynamic subjects. Their marvelous talon first 50 mph dive attacks their prey with force and results in a phenomenal splash. Then the victor or sometimes the loser flies off with their capture. Who doesn’t like to photograph extraordinary creatures in action?

15 Osprey Facts Illustrate Why They Are Unique Among Raptors

  • Ospreys are related to hawks, but the Osprey is the only member of the family Pandion.
  • 99% of their diet is fish
  • Osprey can close their nose, enabling them to dive more than 3 feet into the water for their fish.
  • Ospreys are one of five bird species found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • An Ospreys outer toe can pivot backward to grasp slippery fish
  • Osprey toes have barbs called spicules
  • Ospreys rotate their prey headfirst to improve aerodynamics while carrying it to a safe dining spot.
  • Ospreys reuse their nests for generations.
15 Osprey Facts Osprey Wings Spread Wide

Osprey Wings Spread Wide

Osprey Tech Specs

  • Length: 22-25 in (63 cm)
  • Wingspan: 4.5-6 feet (1.4 – 1.8 m)
  • Weight 4 lbs (1.8 kg)
  • Nest: 7 ft (2 m)

How Did The Osprey Get Their Name

The Osprey’s binomial (Latin) name is Pandion haliaetus. Its origin is kind of complex. Pandion was an ancient King of Athens. His daughter angered the gods, and her boyfriend was turned into a hawk. The boyfriend, now a hawk, was fated to chase the daughter for eternity. I know it makes no sense to use Pandion’s name when he was not involved! Fortunately, the origin of the epithet (The second word in the Latin name.) haliaetus is reasonably clear. The appellation is a combination of two Greek words. The first is “halos,” meaning “sea,” and the second is “aetus,” meaning “eagle.” So that is why the Osprey got its name.

Through the years, the Osprey has been called Sea Hawk, River Hawk, Fish Hawk, Fish Eagle, and White-headed Osprey.

The origin of the word Osprey probably comes from the Latin, “avis prede” as translated into Norman (French), ospriet.

The collective noun for Osprey is a duet. Who decided that? It’s dumb to name a group of Osprey a duet because their calls are modest. If I was in charge of collective nouns, I would call a group of Osprey a dive or, better yet, a catch! 

I hope the 15 Osprey facts taught you something new about the charismatic, unique, ubiquitous, graceful, and oh so photogenic, Osprey! Do you have some knowledge to drop about the badass, Osprey? Leave it for me in the comments.

Osprey Photography Workshop

I would be remiss If I didn’t remind you about my sensational Osprey Photography Workshop. It’s a small group consisting of just 4 photographers with two professional photographer guides. You will be photographing these magnificent birds from the water on a custom-built bird photography boat. Follow this link to learn more about this unforgettable experience, the Osprey Photography Workshop.