This is the seventh in our series, The Beauty Around Us: Ospreys.
A common bird sound in Southwest Florida is a distinctive cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep. This is the sound of our Ospreys. Any activity near a nest results in a frenzied cheereek cry.
The Osprey – also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk – is a fish-eating bird of prey reaching more than 24″ in length and 71” across the wings. It has a worldwide distribution and is found in temperate and tropical regions of all continents except Antarctica.
These magnificent raptors live close to water bodies where they fish. Their vision is well adapted to detecting underwater objects from the air. Prey is first sighted when the osprey is 33–131 ft above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water. Ospreys have several amazing adaptations that set them apart from other birds of prey. One of these adaptations is their reversible outer toe that can move at will to place a fish in a more aerodynamic position. Another adaptation is the spines located on their feet that help to hold onto their prey tightly as they fly over water.
Many American Ospreys winter in South America although some stay in the southernmost U.S. states such as Florida. Ospreys usually mate for life and the nesting season usually begins in December and lasts throughout February.
Here are some pictures of Ospreys in the Lemon Bay area, nesting, feeding, and bathing in creeks at low tide.
Click on any picture to enlarge and then use the arrow keys to move from picture to picture.
Photos by Malcolm Collingwood and Eva Furner