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Osprey: Pandion haliaetus

Appearance:

The undersides of the toes on each foot are covered with short spines, which help them grasp slippery fish.

Habitat:

The osprey is smaller than the bald eagles that typically share the same habitats, but its five to six foot wingspan is impressive nonetheless. Adults are dark brown above with a white underside and head. Look for the distinctive dark line that extends behind the eye and the gull-like way the narrow wings are angled downward when the birds are in flight.

The osprey is found year-round in Florida both as a nesting species and as a spring and fall migrant passing between more northern areas and Central and South America. Ospreys in Florida did not suffer the serious pesticide-related population declines that occurred in other states in the 1950s and 1960s. Pesticides, shoreline development and declining water quality continue to threaten the abundance and availability of food and nest sites for ospreys.

Behavior:

Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," are expert anglers that like to hover above the water, locate their prey and then swoop down for the capture with talons extended.

In Florida, ospreys commonly capture saltwater catfish, mullet, spotted trout, shad, crappie and sunfish from coastal habitats and freshwater lakes and rivers for their diet.

Ospreys build large stick nests located in the tops of large living or dead trees and on manmade structures such as utility poles, channel markers and nest platforms. Ospreys have adapted so well to artificial nest sites that the species now nests in areas (e.g. inner cities) once considered unsuitable. Nests are commonly reused for many years. Nesting begins from December (south Florida) to late February (north Florida). The incubation and nestling period extends into the summer months.

The osprey is listed as a Species of Special Concern only in Monroe County. Permits are required throughout the state to remove a nest for these wonderful raptors, however, and a replacement structure must be erected to mitigate the removal of the nest.

Additional Information:


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FWC Facts:
The wild pig, also called the wild hog, wild boar or feral pig, is not a Florida native and may have been introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as 1539.

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