Osprey, or Sea Hawk,
Pandion haliaetus

Facts and Information



Osprey, San Juan Island, Washington

The Osprey, also known as the sea hawk, is a large raptor, a bird of prey that can grow to 22" in length with an 80" wingspan. Their diet is 99% fish and has evolved barbed pads on the soles of its feet to help it grip slippery fish. After catching its prey, the Osprey carries its fish to its nest headfirst, a practice that makes its load as aerodynamic as possible. Like owls, Ospreys have a reversible outer toe which allows them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two behind, another evolutionary adaptation to ensure survival.

San Juan Island is a natural home for these birds, who find food by flying over the water, where they hover a moment, then plunge feet first into the water, where they grip the fish in their feet/talons. They have closable nostrils to block water when they dive. Ospreys usually mate for life.

Jump over to any of the other San Juan Island bird pages: American Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Common Raven, Coopers Hawk, Great Blue Heron, Double Crested Cormorant, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Trumpeter Swan.

Return to American Goldfinch from Sea Hawk, OR
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