WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – HOLEY LAND WMA, FL
This photograph of an Osprey atop a pole was taken at the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area in Deem city, Florida using a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 28-300 lens.
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching 60 centimeters (24 in) in length with a 2m wingspan. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.
The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
As its other common name suggests, the Osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It has evolved specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey.
Fish make up 99% of the Osprey’s diet. It typically takes fish weighing 150–300 grams (5–10 oz) and about 25–35 centimeters (10–14 in) in length, but the weight can range from 50 to 2000 grams (2–68 oz).
Prey is first sighted when the Osprey is 10–40 meters (32–130 ft) above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water.
The Osprey is particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes, closable nostrils to keep out water during dives, and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch.