Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Osprey
Pandion haliaetus

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Falconiformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Pandion
  • Species: Pandion haliaetus
  • Authority: Linnaeus

Comments on taxonomy:
P. haliaetus carolinensis (Gmelin) is only recognized subspecies in IL. *27,28*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Uncommon migrant *32*.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species (F)

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
Status undetermined by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1973) *28*. protected under Illinois Endangered Species Act, 1972 *46*. pesticide application and loss of habitat have eliminated the osprey as a breeding species in Illinois *46*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class:

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Seedling/sapling Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

 


Forest cover types: Winter

Cover typeStructural stageCanopy closureSeason
All Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Unknown Fall
All Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Unknown

Associated tree species: No records.

National wetland inventory classifications:

SystemSubsystemClassSubclassWater regime modifiersWater chemistry
Lacustrine Limnetic Forest Dead trees Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Lacustrine Limnetic Forest Deciduous Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Lacustrine Littoral Forest Dead trees Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Lacustrine Littoral Forest Deciduous Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Palustrine   Forest Dead trees Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Palustrine   Forest Deciduous Permanent nontidal Freshwater
Riverine Unknown perennial Forest Deciduous Permanent nontidal Freshwater

Comments on species-habitat associations:
The osprey's habitat is always closely associated with bodies of water; nests are most commonly in dead or open-topped trees, barring artificial nesting sites *28*.

Important plant and animal association: Ospreys nest in the tops of large dead or open-topped live trees *28*.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Bur oak Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Cottonwood Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Silver maple Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Pin oak-sweetgum Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Swamp chestnut oak-cherrybark oak Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Baldcypress Mature
(9" dia. & 100 yrs. old)
Spring/summer
Streams and canals Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Lakes Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Reservoirs Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Bays and estuaries Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Natural impoundment Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Artificial impoundment Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Medium river Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer
Large river Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer

Species-habitat interrelations: Ospreys are associated with aquatic habitats, and use large trees (as well as man-made structures) for nesting and perching *28*.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Water Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All  

Comments on feed-guilding:
Ospreys are predatory, feeding almost entirely on fish *33*. This species dives for prey carrying it to a perch to be consumed *33*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Forest land Mature
(9" dia & 100 yrs old)
Spring/summer  
Forested wetland Mature
(9" dia & 100 yrs old)
Spring/summer  
Swamp Mature
(9" dia & 100 yrs old)
Spring/summer  
Lakes and ponds Mature
(9" dia & 100 yrs old)
Spring/summer  
River Mature
(9" dia & 100 yrs old)
Spring/summer  

Comments on breed-guilding:
See 'comments on species-habitat associations'.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is CARNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Adult
Salientia (frogs, toads) Adult
Serpentes (snakes) Adult
Birds Adult
Important:
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Adult
Juvenile:
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Adult
Adult:
Osteichthyes (bony fishes) Adult

Comments on food habits: 
General: Osprey's diet is almost entirely fish *28*. Usually fish that bask on surface are take. Pike are said to be fa- vored *33*. Also may eat birds, frogs and crustacea *33*.
Juvenile: Parents fed hatchlings regurgitated fish and older nestlings pieces of fish *05*.
Adult: Adults eat almost only fish *05,28*. See general food habits.


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Large lone trees: see comments
  • Snags: see comments
  • Human associations: see comments

Limiting:

  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments

Feeding juvenile:

  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Human associations: see comments

Resting juvenile:

  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Human associations: see comments

Feeding adult:

  • Flood plain: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments

Resting adult:

  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Large lone trees: see comments
  • Snags: see comments
  • Human associations: see comments

Breeding adult:

  • Cliffs/ledges: see comments
  • Ecotones: woodland/water
  • Coniferous forest: unknown
  • Hardwood forest: see comments
  • Large lone trees: see comments
  • Snags: see comments
  • Human associations: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Ospreys nest in large trees, on rock formations, or artificial structures *05,07,28,29,35*. Almost invariably associate with water, e.g. rivers, lakes, ponds, small streams *33*.
Feeding juvenile: Juveniles are fed in nest *05,28,33*. Learn to fish after fledged.
Resting juvenile: Resting juveniles remain in nest and assume to adopt adult roosting habits *00*.
Feeding adult: Ospreys feed on fish, and hence are associated with aquatic habitat *05,28,29,33*.
Resting adult: Ospreys rest mostly on perches *33*, or out-standing rocks *33*.
Breeding adult: Nest in tall trees, on rocks or artificial foundation. Invariably near water or where water available *33*.


LIFE HISTORY

Origin: Formerly native summer resident *32,36*.

Physical description: 21-24 in. long; wingspread 4 1/2-6 ft.; weight 1.6 kg. Dark above, white below, mostly white head with black cheek patch and black "wrist" patches *38,44*.

Reproduction: The osprey migrates north for the breeding season early in spring *28*. At the latitude of northern IL, birds begin to return in March *05*. Courtship begins shortly thereafter, and consist of aerial displays (see *28* and *33*). Ospreys may mate for life *05*. Adult birds don't always breed every year *17*. Tall trees are preferred nest sites, but rock formations, man-made structures and even the ground may be used *05,07,28,29,33*. Male brings nesting material tho the female, she builds the nest and defends the nesting territory *28*. Nests may be built on the ground to as high as 60 ft. Often in "small loose colonies" *43*, perhaps as close as 60-70 yards apart *33*. Constructed of sticks (some quite large) and an amazing variety of other materials, they are lined with bark, grasses, and other vegetation. Nests may be used more than one year; with successive additions of sticks, they may become quite large and kill the tree on which they are built *05*. Clutch (usually 3 eggs, sometimes 2, rarely 4) is incubated about 38 d. by both sexes *5,33,37*. Male 30%, female 70% of total incubation *37*. Male provides food to the female during incubation and first 5-6 weeks after hatching *28*. Hatchlings are fed regurgitated fish, older nestlings are given pieces of fish *05*. Young fledge at 44-59 d. *40,41*; post-fledgling dependency may end when young are about 93-103 d. old *40*. Sexual maturity is reached at age 3 *19,33*. One yr. olds remain on wintering grounds; two yr. olds return to the U.S.; 25-54% may return to their natal areas *19*.

Behavior: Territoriality in hunting ranges not reported, but winter feeding habits are not well described *28*. Osprey prey on live fish. They attack while in flight (dives from hovering 50% more successful than dives from a glide *14*) or from perches near the water *05,14, 29*; diving in, talons first, "often" completely submerging *28*. In flight, the fish is carried head first to reduce air resistance. They feed at a habitual perch or the nest. Eagles will rob ospreys of fish, diving at them until they drop their prey *44*. Migratory; formerly nesting in northern IL, ospreys banded in Wisc. Have been recovered in IL en route to Central and South American wintering grounds *19*.

Limiting factors: Pesticides (notably DDT) are primarily responsible for the catastrophic declines of the 1950's and 1960's *09,11,24*. U.S. population: loss of nesting habitat (large trees near water) has probably not had a great impact; ospreys have adapted to nesting on man-made structure in many areas *28*. Nest predators - e.g. raccoons - are not usually a large source of mortality *28,30*. Shooting has seemingly decreased *28*. In one study, most mortality from 1964-1973 was from impact injuries, emaciaton, shooting, and respiratory infections *08*.

Population parameters: In the U.S., productivity has been improving and populatons are stabilizing with the ban of DDT *09,28*. Sex ratio assumed to be 1:1 *39*. Average lifespan of the osprey has been estimated at 1.8 years *33*. Oldest banded birds recovered: 18, 21, 32 years *44*. First year mortality rate about 55% and 18%/year for each year therafter *39*. Life expectancy for mature birds (3 and older) is 4.8 years *33*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • Maintaining natural areas and nature preserves
  • Developing/maintaining edge (ecotones)
  • Maintaining unique or special habitat features (wetlands, snags, caves, cliffs, talises, etc.)
  • Preserving endangered species habitat
  • Preserving sensitive species habitat
  • Performing special survey prior to prescription
  • Performing field survey prior to prescription
  • Controlling land use and human activities
  • Seasonal restriction of human use of habitats
  • Controlling pollution
  • Controlling pollution in aquatic habitats
  • Developing/maintaining snags
  • Maintaining streams
  • Developing/maintaining lakes and ponds
  • Protecting existing wetlands
  • Developing/maintaining riparian habitat
  • Reforestation
  • Forest protection
  • Deferring for old growth in forest areas
  • Maintaining forests
  • Restricting human disturbance during migration, breeding, and nesting
  • Maintaining large trees for denning, nesting, or roosting
  • Providing artificial nesting and roosting sites (platforms, nest boxes, cones, baskets, burro)

Adverse:

  • Draining ponds/lakes
  • Removing bank vegetation
  • Applying pesticide on agricultural land
  • Applying herbicide
  • Applying insecticide
  • Strip mining
  • Applying pesticides
  • Cutting and deforestation
  • Clearcutting forests
  • Removal of old trees
  • Application of pesticides

Comments on management practices:
Three general management practices are detrimental: removing large trees & snags, removing or disturbing aquatic & riparian habitats and the use of organoclorides (notably DDT). Beneficial management practices include protection of large tracts of lake and riverside habitat from human disturbance, maintaining large trees and snags (and perhaps supplying artificial nest sites), protecting mentioned habitats, controlling the use of pesticides *09,28*. The Migratory Bird Treaty of 10 Mar 1972 includes ospreys *28*, also Illinois Endangered Species Act, 1972 and Illinois Wildlife Code, 1971 protect ospreY *45*

 


REFERENCES

0. BUTCHER, MATTHEW K. ILL. NAT. HIST. SURV. 607 E. PEABODY DR., CHAMPAIGN, IL. 61820 (217)333-6846.

1. SWENSON, J. 1979(A). THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PREY SPECIES ECOLOGY AND DIVE SUCCESS IN OSPREYS. THE AUK 96(2):408-412.

2. PREVOST, Y. 1979. OSPREY-BALD EAGLE INTERACTIONS AT A COMMON FORAGING SITE. THE AUK 96(2):413-414.

3. POOLE, A. 1979. SIBLING AGGRESSION AMONG NESTLING OSPREYS IN FLORIDA BAY. THE AUK 96(2):415-417.

4. SWENSON, J. 1979(B). FACTORS AFFECTING STATUS AND REPRODUCTION OF OSPREYS IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. J. WILDL. MANAGE. 43(3):595- 601.

5. BENT, ARTHUR C. 1937. LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS OF PREY. PT.1 U.S. MUSEUM BULL. NO. 167. 409 PP. OSPREY PP. 352-379.

6. TRUT, R. 1972. THE OSPREYS OF GREAT NECK. ATLANTIC NAT. 27(4):169- 172.

7. REESE, J. 1981. OSPREY REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS ALONG CHOPTANK RIVER, MARYLAND. ESTUARIES 4(4):73. 369-373.

8. WIEMEYER, S., T. LAMONT, L. LOCKE. 1980. RESIDUES OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS AND NECROPSY DATA FOR EASTERN UNITED STATES OSPREY, 1864-1973. ESTUARIES 3(3):155-167.

9. HENNY, C. 1977. RESEARCH MANAGEMENT AND STATUS OF THE OSPREY IN NORTH AMERICA. PAGES 199-222 IN PROCEEDINGS OF THE ICBP WORLD CONFERENCE ON BIRDS OF PREY-VIENNA, 1975. 442 P. TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD., GREAT BRITAIN.

10. CHANCELLOR, R., EDITOR. 1977. WORLD CONFERENCE ON BIRDS OF PREY, INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR BIRD PRESERVATION (ICBP). TAYLOR & FRANCIS, LTD., LONDON. 442 P.

11. AMES, P. 1966. DDT RESIDUES IN THE EGGS OF THE OSPREY IN THE NORTH-EASTERN UNITED STATES AND THEIR RELATION TO NESTING SUCCESS. J. APPL. ECOL. 3 (SUPPL.):87-97.

12. ECKSTEIN, R., P. VANDERSCHAEGEN, & F. JOHNSON. 1979. OSPREY NESTING PLATFORMS IN NORTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN. PASSENGER PIGEON 41(4):145- 148.

13. BALD EAGLE - OSPREY REPORT, EASTERN REGION. 1978. PASSENGER PIGEON 41(2):94-97.

14. GRUBB, T., JR. 1977. WHY OSPREYS HOVER. WILSON BULL. 89(1):149-150.

15. THOMAS, B. 1979. OSPREY FISHING FROM PERCH. BR. BIRDS 72(6):290.

16. HAKKINEN, I. & E. HASANEN. 1980. MERCURY IN EGGS AND NESTLINGS OF THE OSPREY (PANDION HALIAETIS) IN FINLAND & ITS BIOACCUMULATION FROM FISH. ANN. ZOOL. FENNICI 17:131-139.

17. POSTUPALSKY, S. 1977. A CRITICAL REVIEW OF PROBLEMS IN CALCULATING REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS. IN: TRANS. N. AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF. U.S.D.I.N.P.S. TRANS. & PROC. (2):1977.

18. SPITZER, P., R. RISEBROUGH, J. GRIER & CHARLES SINCLAIR. 1977. EGGSHELL THICKNESS-POLLUTANT RELATIONSHIPS AMONG NORTH AMERICAN OSPREYS IN TRANS. N AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF. U.S. DEPT. INT. NATL. PARK SERV. TRANS. & PROC.(2):1977.

19. HENNY, C. AND W. VANVELZEN. 1977. MIGRATORY PATTERNS & WINTERING LOCALITIES OF AMERICAN OSPREYS IN P. 21-33 IN TRANS. N. AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF.

20. OBERHEU, J. 1977. THE STATUS OF THE AMERICAN OSPREY ON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES IN TRANS. N AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF. U.S. DEPT. INT.(2):77.

21. BENNETT, E. 1953. NESTING BIRDS OF THE SHORELINE AND ISLANDS OF CRAB ORCHARD LAKE. UNPUBLISHED M.S. THESIS SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY.

22. RHODES, L. 1977. AN OSPREY POPULATION AIDED BY NEST STRUCTURES. P. 77-83 IN TRANS. N. AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF. U.S. DEPT. INT., TRANS. & PROC.(2).

23. SINDELAR, C. 1977. REPRODUCTION IN WISCONSIN OSPREYS. P. 167-173 IN TRANS. N. AMER. OSPREY RES. CONF.

24. AMES, P. & G. MERSEREAU. 1964. SOME FACTORS IN THE DECLINE OF THE OSPREY IN CONNECTICUT. AUK 81:173-185.

25. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION. 1957. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS UNION, BALTIMORE, MD. 691 P.

26. LINNAEUS. 1758. SYST. NAT., ED. 10, VOL. 1.

27. GMELIN. 1788. SYST. NAT., VOL. 1, PT. 1. P. 263. IN A.O.U. CHECKLIST OF N. AMER. BIRDS.

28. EVANS, D.L. 1982. STATUS REPORTS ON TWELVE RAPTORS. U.S. DEPT. INTERIOR, FISH AND WILDL. SERV., SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC REPORT - WILDL. NO. 238.

29. AUDUBON, J.J., & J. CHEVALIER. 1840-44. THE BIRDS OF AMERICA. VOL. 1. DOVER PUBLICATIONS, NEW YORK. 254 P.

30. MACCARTER, D.L. & D.S. MACCARTER. 1979. TEN-YEAR NESTING STATUS OF OSPREYS AT FLATHEAD LAKE, MONTANA. MURRELET 60(2):42-49.

31. STINSON, C. 1977A. GROWTH AND BEHAVIOR OF YOUNG OSPREYS PANDION HALIAETUS. OIKOS 28:299-303.

32. BOHLEN, H. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI. SER., VOL. IX., ILLINOIS STATE MUSEUM, SPRINGFIELD. 156 PP.

33. BROWN, L. & D. AMADON. 1961. EAGLES HAWKS, & FALCONS OF THE WORLD. MCGRAW-HILL, NEW YORK. VOL. 1. 414 PP + 14 PL.

34. KLEEN, V. 1981. FIELD NOTES, WINTER SEASON. ILLINOIS AUD. BULL. 1978:28-39.

35. ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CONSERVATION & THE ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES COMMISSION. 1982. A DIRECTORY OF ILLINOIS NATURE PRESERVES. STATE OF ILLINOIS. 52 P.

36. RIDGEWAY, R. 1889. THE ORNITHOLOGY OF ILLINOIS. VOL. 1. PANTAGRAPH PRINTING & STATIONERY CO., BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS, 1913. 520 P.

37. GARBER, D. AND J. KOPLIN. 1972. PROLONGED & BISEXUAL INCUBATION BY CALIFORNIA OSPREYS. CONDOR 74(2):201-202.

38. PETERSON, R. 1947. A FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, 2 ED. HOUGHTON- MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON. 290 P.

39. HENNY, C. & H. WIGHT. 1969. AN ENDANGERED OSPREY POPULATION: ESTIMATES OF MORTALITY & PRODUCTION. AUK 86(2):188-198.

40. STINSON, C. 1977(B). FAMILIAL LONGEVITY IN OSPREYS. BIRD-BANDING 48(1):72-73.

41. STOTTS, V. & C. HENNY. 1975. THE AGE AT FIRST FLIGHT FOR YOUNG OSPREYS. WILSON BULL. 87:277-278.

42. PETERS, J. 1931. CHECK-LIST OF BIRDS OF THE WORLD, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE PRESS. VOL I. 345 P.

43. HARRISON, H.H. 1975. A FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS' NESTS. HOUGHTON- MIFFLIN CO., BOSTON. 257 PP.

44. TERRES, J.K. 1980. THE AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED A. KNOPF, NEW YORK. 1109 PP.

45. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH 61. WILDLIFE. ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN. 120 P.

46. BOWLES, M.L., V.E. DIERSING, J.E. EBINGER AND H.C. SCHULTE, EDS. 1981. ENDANGERED AND THREATENED VERTEBRATE ANIMALS AND VASCULAR PLANTS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS DEPT. OF CONSERV. 189 P.

 


 

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