Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Osprey
 
 

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  Order Falconiformes (Accipitriformes) - Diurnal Birds of Prey
   Family Accipitridae (Pandionidae)- Hawks, Eagles, Kites
      Subfamily Pandioninae - Ospreys

  Diurnal Birds of Prey include raptors with talons and hooked bill. Most hunt animal prey using acute vision which may be supplemented by hearing. (Several Old World forms have specialized for carrion eating with bare heads and long necks. They lack talons. These buteos are properly called "buzzards," not our New World Vultures.)  
   The Tree of Life includes the diurnal birds of prey (and New World Vultures) in the Accipitriformes. The Encyclopedia of Life includes them in the Ciconiiformes.
Accipitrids (osprey, kites, harriers, sea eagles, buteos, and eagles) are found in all parts of the world except Antarctica and some islands. 
Ospreys are specialized fish eaters ("fish eagles"). They have reversible outer toes and their nostrils can be closed to exclude water during dives. They feed largely on fish. 
 
Soaring Birds
     
  Osprey, Pandion haliaetus
 
         Cornell     USGS     WIki     ToL    
        YEAR ROUND - Common / Common summer, fewer winter, breeds
            LAKES, ESTUARIES, BEACH, RIVERS, MARSHES
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   Adult Ospreys hunt singly or in pairs, flying above lakes, estuaries, marshes, and the beach. From above, they are dark (except for the head) and from below, the flight feathers are dark but the body and coverts are white. They have a dark eye-stripe if seen close up. The bill is relatively short and hooked. They have sharp, hooked talons. Their feet have sharp keeled scales that assist them in holding fish. Their outer toe is reversible.
   Ospreys fly easily and buoyantly over water, holding their wings in a distinct dihedral (a shallow "M") that is diagnostic.
Osprey
     
Osprey. North Beach
In the larger image, arrows point to the spread alula - feathers on the fingers - providing slotting and increased lift at lower air speed
   
  RANGE: Ospreys have a world-wide distribution. In North America, they breed across Canada from Labrador to Alaska and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and Baja south to Chile and northern Argentina. They withdraw to coastal areas in winter. They were on the Blue List from 1972-1981 and Special Concern 1982. Coastal populations have recovered following the ban on DDT and the provision of artificial nesting platforms. In winter they range south to Chile and Argentina.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Both sexes work on their perennial nest placed high in a tree (or on a post), near or over water. They use sticks, twigs, sod, rubbish, seaweed etc. They usually lay 3 (2-4) eggs which the female incubates (with some help) for ~38 (32-43) days. Young hatch asynchronously. They are semiprecocial. The female remains with the young at first, sheltering them from sun and rain (and the risk of predation - Great Horned Owls have been known to take Osprey young from the nest). The female is fed by the male from pair formation through egg laying. The male delivers food to the female at the nest and she feeds the young and does most of the brooding. Young can fly at 48-59 days.
  DIET:  They eat fish almost exclusively (usually 4-12" long) - they are often called "fish hawks." Ospreys cruise slowly over waterways and may hover, fixing on prey before diving. Like Bald Eagles, they capture fish with their feet. They are often seen carrying a fish back to their nest. They may also eat rodents, birds, small vertebrates and crustaceans. They may have their catch pirated by Bald Eagles (and frigatebirds where they occur).
  VOICE: Ospreys are vocal with short, shrill whistles or a single loud slurred whistle. Their calls often alert you to their presence.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook (breeds). Kiawah - common resident (breeds).
      Coastal - common summer resident, uncommon winter visitor. Hilton Head - common permanent resident.
         Cape Romain
- common/common (breeds)/common/rare.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon July - August; common September - December; rare January - March; common April - June.
      Caw Caw - common/common (breeds)/common/uncommon. ACE - common/common (breeds)/common/rare.
   CBC: ACE 1, 1, 4, 0, 0, 13, 1, 1; Charleston 6, 14, 12, 21, 5, 5, 6, 10;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 25, 17; Hilton Head 89, 81, 67, 80, 75, 81, 87, 65; Sun City/Okatie 11, 30, 11, 24, 21, 50, 29, 15;
            McClellanville 5, 6, 6, 7, nc, 6, 9, 9; Winyah Bay x, x 0, 9, 4, 6, 8, 4; Litchfield/Pawley's 4, 7, 2, 7, 8, 10, 5, 6.
   P&G: Common coastal breeder. Uncommon on the coast in the winter. The number of breeding pairs was about 500 in 1987 and numbers have increased significantly throughout the state. Egg dates: 10 March - 15 June.
   Avendex: 9 published records, none from April through August.
   Potter: Ospreys breed on or near the coast in good numbers but are less common in winter. The species occurs as a migrant throughout the Carolinas.
  ● They are common year round over our beach, estuaries, marshes, and lakes.
       
    Banner - Osprey - POA Building.
       
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