Family Osprey (Pandionidae)

Least Concern

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)


French: Balbuzard pêcheur German: Fischadler Spanish: Águila pescadora

Falco Haliaetus


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


SE race sometimes referred to by name leucocephalus#R, but cristatus has priority. Proposal that races represent three species (on basis of morphological and genetic differences)#R requires further study. Recent trend to separate shorter-winged, whiter-headed and streakier-breasted race cristatus as full species#R, largely on genetic grounds#R, requires fuller review of evidence. Proposed races melvillensis (Melville I) and microhaliaetus (New Caledonia) both very similar to cristatus and here synonymized with it#R, although former sometimes considered valid#R. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. h. haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Western Osprey – from Britain and Scandinavia E to Kamchatka and Japan, and S to Mediterranean, Red Sea, C China and Taiwan, also Canary Is and Cape Verde Is; winters mainly sub-Saharan Africa (S to S Africa, where occasionally claimed to breed#R), India, W Indonesia and Philippines.
  • P. h. carolinensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – Alaska E across S Canada to Labrador, and S in USA to California and patchily to N Arizona and Florida, also NW Mexico (Baja California), and has bred Cuba#R; winters West Indies and Central America S to South America (S to Chile and C Argentina#R).
  • P. h. ridgwayi Maynard, 1887 – Caribbean, including Bahamas, Cuba and Belize.
  • P. h. cristatus (Vieillot, 1816) – Eastern Osprey – Borneo, Java and Bali E through Wallacea to New Guinea lowlands (including Bismarck Archipelago), S to coastal Australia, Solomon Is and New Caledonia.
  • Descriptive notes

    54–64 cm; male 990–1800g, female 1200–2050g; wingspan 127–174 cm. Females slightly larger. Dark stripe through eye; speckled brown necklace, variable... read more


    Relatively silent away from nest-site, but noisy close to it, with eight different vocalizations (... read more


    Shallow waters, fresh, brackish and marine. Nests along lakeshores, seashores, marshes and rivers;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost exclusively live fish, mostly of 150–300 g, but up to 2000 g recorded. Takes wide variety of fish species, with some marked... read more


    Season varies with region: generally spring and summer in temperate latitudes; winter to spring in tropical and subtropical latitudes (e.g... read more


    Resident in tropical and subtropical latitudes, although even here individuals can move up to 350... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Has huge range, with global population estimated by BirdLife to include c. 500,000 mature individuals. Frequent to abundant... read more

    Recommended citation

    Poole, A.F., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Marks, J.S. (2019). Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 12 November 2019).