This is one of the birds found over much of the World. The stronghold for breeding birds is in the temperate Northern hemisphere. However there are isolated breeding birds in Australia and the Far East and migrants and wintering birds can be found over most of the rest of the World.
This is bigger than a Buzzard with long wings and white underparts and a piratical black strip through the eye. It has spiny feet because it plunges into water to catch fish - and it does not want them to slip out of its grasp. The fish cannot be deep - probably a metre is the limit - and they can be up to three kg (twice the bird's own weight).
Much persecuted for trophies and as a fish predator, also, over the last 40 years, at risk from agricultural poisons. Both from direct poisoning and also from sub-lethal egg-shell thinning effects. The return of the Osprey to Scotland after 40 years absence was a triumph for conservation. The Scottish population reached 100 nests last year (1995).
The fish hawk.
Length 570 mm Closed wing 480 mm Weight 1500 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead