The osprey is one of the most interesting and somewhat underrated type of large raptors that can commonly be found in many areas around the entire world, except for Antarctica. It is also known by the name of “fish hawk” or “sea hawk.” The bird is extremely versatile and can tolerate a very wide range of habitats, while also adapting to virtually any species of fish, when it comes to finding adequate nourishment.
The special quality of the osprey is that it’s a single species that can be found in almost any location in the world. The bird features four different subspecies that populate various areas of the globe, such as the Caribbean, the Palearctic, different parts of North America and Australia or Tasmania. At the same time, the osprey is an extremely efficient and capable migratory bird that generally breeds in the north and migrates to southern regions during the winter, being known for their impressive endurance and ability to fly long distances in a relatively short amount of time. Satellite tag observations have sometimes tracked continuous osprey flights of more than 2,000 miles.
The answer is “just about anywhere in the world – except for Antarctica”. After the peregrine falcon, it is basically the most prevalent type of raptor found anywhere, and its global distribution is most prevalent in regions such as North America, where it can be found breeding from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida. In the summertime, it can also be found most often in places in Europe such as Ireland, Finland and Scotland, while Southern China, Indonesia and Malaysia are its most significant Asian breeding grounds. During the winter, the bird migrates south to places like Argentina, Australia and South Africa, and you can even find it on many islands in the Pacific Ocean, as well as most of Southeast Asia.
What makes ospreys so easily capable to adapt in almost any part of the world is mainly their reliance on fish. Since it makes up 99% of the osprey’s diet, fish species from around the globe allow the raptor to live and hunt just about anywhere, especially since it has exceptional vision and is capable of sighting prey from 10-40 meters above the water. Ospreys also have a good relationship with man-made structures, commonly being known to build its nest on telephone poles or chimneys, and while similar in size and appearance to bald eagles, they can be distinguished through their black eye stripe.
Ospreys and eagles are similar not just in appearance, but also when it comes to their feeding grounds. In fact, members of the two species have often been seen battling against each other for food and hunting for prey in a similar fashion. Another curious thing about ospreys is that they seem to take their reputation as migratory birds very seriously, as they never stand still for too long. Researchers have actually calculated that an osprey spends a huge amount of time in flight and can clock up to 160,000 miles during its entire lifetime of about 15-20 years. Finally, an interesting fact is that osprey eggs never hatch all at the same time, the first chick hatching up to five days before the next.