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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: 50 cm (male), 65 cm (female); wing span up to 1.7 m
Weight: 0.9-1.2 kg (male), 1.2-1.6 kg (female)

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

MALE

Lateral view of a male Eastern Osprey - note the white chest without a speckled band (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra Headland, QLD, January 2018]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Eastern Osprey - note the "collar" (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

Near-frontal view of a female Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Dundowran Beach, Hervey Bay, QLD, May 2018]

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

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

Near-lateral view of a female Eastern Osprey with its prey, a fish (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Dundowran Beach, Hervey Bay, QLD, May 2018]

Close-up near-lateral view of a female Eastern Osprey with its prey, a fish (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Dundowran Beach, Hervey Bay, QLD, May 2018]

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

Female Eastern Osprey seen from underneath
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

Female Eastern Osprey looking around in flight
[Sawtell Lookout, Sawtell, NSW, January 2011]

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

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

Sex unknown

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

Dorsal view of an Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Noosa, QLD, December 2017]

Dorsal view of a preening Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra Headland, QLD, January 2018]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey - note the streaked breast band and the light edges to the wing feathers - with, for size comparison, a Silver Gull (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

Near-lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, June 2018]

Near-lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey looking around and thereby displaying the brownish tips of the feathers along its neck and breast band (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Darwin, NT, June 2018]

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey; note the light edges of the feathers
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Noosa, QLD, December 2017]

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

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

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey in flight (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

Lateral view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey in flight (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Eastern Osprey in flight (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

Juvenile Eastern Osprey banking to land (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Austin Bay, near Mandurah, WA, March 2017]

Lateral view of an Ostern Osprey in flight; the dark, "dirty" collar indicates that this is a juvenile bird
[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

Eastern Ospreys can nest in trees or on high rock platforms on cliff edges, often very high above sea level.

Eastern Osprey working on its nest for an early start to the season (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Brisbane, QLD, April 2018]

Eastern Osprey on its nest in the top of a tree which looks like an (introduced) Norfolk Pine (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Caloundra, QLD, August 2017]

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

Here another Eastern Osprey at its avant garde nest on a radio communications tower (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, July 2018]

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.

Close-up near-lateral view of a female Eastern Osprey dissecting a fish (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Dundowran Beach, Hervey Bay, QLD, May 2018]

Eastern Osprey plucking apart a fish (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[South West Rocks, NSW, July 2017]

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 talons
[Near Hat Head, NSW, January 2011]

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

An Eastern Osprey's unsuccessful attempt to grab a fish (photo courtesy of S. Barwick)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, June 2017]

Eastern Osprey taking off after an unsuccessful attempt to grab a fish (photo courtesy of S. Barwick)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, June 2017]

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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