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6

Eastern Osprey

(Pandion cristatus)
[formerly a race of Pandion haliaetus]
Alternate name(s): "Australasian Osprey", "Osprey", "Fish eagle", "River hawk", "Sea hawk"
Aboriginal name(s): "yoondoordo" (WA)

Size: male 50 cm, female 65 cm; wing span up to 1.7 m
Weight: 1.25-1.7 kg (averages for various races)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Osprey at Wikipedia .

Click here for classification information

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

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ADULT

Eastern Osprey on its perch (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Stott's Island rainforest, Tweed River, NSW, September 2016]

Near-frontal view of an Eastern Osprey with its wings extended (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Bribie Island, QLD, July 2014]

Near-frontal view of an Eastern Osprey with its wings extended to fend off a harassing Magpie-lark (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Bribie Island, QLD, July 2014]

Near-lateral view of an Eastern Osprey with its wings extended to fend off a harassing Magpie-lark (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Bribie Island, QLD, July 2014]

Near-dorsal view of an Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Peel Inlet, Coondanup, WA, May 2015]

Near-dorsal view of an Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of C. Kellenberg)
[Limeburners Creek NP, NSW, February 2009]

Lateral view of a (probably female) Eastern Osprey in flight; as seen the bird was stationary in an onshore updraught
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

Here a different perspective on the Eastern Osprey, from underneath
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

The same Eastern Osprey as above looking around
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

The Eastern Osprey was seen to shake itself thoroughly in-flight, while maintaining its position above the coastline
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

Eastern Osprey being harassed by a Black Kite (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Near Moree, NSW, July 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

The dark collar indicates that this bird is an immature Eastern Osprey
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Breeding information

Breeding season: May - Oct Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 33 days Fledging age: 50 - 60 days

Note that Eastern Ospreys breed through the southern winter. Nests, preferably in locations with a commanding view, are often re-used for many years.

Nest building: Male & female? Incubation: Female Dependent care: Male & female

Twitcher's tip

Note that, by the time they fledge (i.e., leave their nest), the young of all species of raptors - apart from the tail and wing feathers (which are still growing) - are already full adult-size.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, bark, seeweed, bones, debris Height above ground: 10 - 30 m

On cliff edges Eastern Osprey nests can be very high above sealevel.

Eastern Osprey in its fancy nest in a metal bowl provided for that purpose (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Iluka, NSW, April 2011]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 60 x 45 mm Colour: Creamy, with dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Sedentary Elementary unit: Pair

NB: The Eastern Osprey, Pandion cristatus, is the only sedentary Osprey. All races of the now distinct species Pandion haliaetus are migratory.

Although usually close to the Australian coastline, Eastern Ospreys are occasionally found farther inland, especially along major inland rivers.

Eastern Osprey spotted in the township of Moree, NSW (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Moree, NSW, July 2013]

Food, Diet

Adults: Fish Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores. Eastern Ospreys feed on fish, which they can catch up to 1 m below the water surface.

During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.

This Eastern Osprey was disturbed by us when sitting on a power pole and devouring its meal; it is still holding the remnants in one of its claws
[Near Hat Head, NSW, January 2011]

Eastern Osprey with its prey (photo courtesy of S. Kirkby)

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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