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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Osprey

Afrikaans name: Visvalk

Osprey are normally found near large bodies of water

Osprey at Pilanesberg Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pandion haliaetus

The Osprey is now listed as the Western Osprey in publications to distinguish it from the Eastern Osprey Pandion cristatus which is found in Australia. It is also called a Sea Hawk or Fish Hawk in some places. They have a widespread distribution across the world, excluding Australia.

They are large birds which can have a wingspan of 180 cm and a length of 60 cm. Ospreys are normally found near larger bodies of water where they hunt for fish, which make up 99% of their diet. They use their excellent eye-sight to see potential prey when flying at a height of 50 metres. They then plunge into the water feet first to grab the fish.

An Osprey nest can be 2 metres in width and weigh over 100 kg. It is made up of sticks and other plant material. The nest made be placed in the fork of a large tree, rocky outcrops or a variety of other places. Between 2 and 4 eggs are laid and it takes around 70 days for the chicks to fledge. Although Osprey's are normally solitary birds they do pair for life.

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References and further reading

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 123

Birds of Prey of Southern Africa - Author: Peter Steyn - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 205

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 23

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 64

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 16

Eagles, Hawks & Falcons of the World - Author: Leslie Brown and Dean Amadon - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 195

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 52

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 153

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 149

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 92

The Coastal Guide of South Africa - Author: Jacana Media - Year Published: 2007 - Page: 98

The Status & Conservation of Birds of Prey in the Transvaal - Author: W. Tarboton and D. Allan - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 93

List of South African Birds

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