Photo: Mark Buckler
Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus
Classification: Nongame Species
Abundance: Found statewide
Osprey (Photo by Mark Buckler)
Juvenile and adult osprey on nest platform (Photo by Wikipedia)
The osprey is perhaps our most easily observed bird of prey. Its large, conspicuous nests can be seen on dead trees along waterways and on channel markers in coastal areas. Its habit of nesting on man-made structures shows that this raptor can coexist with humans and even benefit from some of our activities. Ospreys are large birds, standing 21 to 24 in. tall and having a wing span of up to approximately 6 ft. They are dark brown above with white stomach and legs below. The head is white with dark speckles on the crown and a dark brown line through the eye. Two of the best field marks of the osprey are that it flies with crooked or “M”-shaped wings and it has dark carpal patches on the under wing. It is the only raptor that actually plunges into the water, entering feet first to catch fish with its talons. The soles of the feet have sharp spiny projections, an adaptation that allows a firm grip on slippery fish.
Learn more by reading the Osprey Species Profile.
The osprey is a nongame species with no open hunting season.
There are no reported problems with this species. The osprey is a federally protected bird. Please contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services for any issues with this species. The toll free number is (866) 4USDA-WS (866-487-3297)
Osprey Species Profile
Sandy Mush Game Land Birding Checklist (PDF)
Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Reports
Protected Wildlife Species of North Carolina Listings (PDF