Photograph Credit: SWFWMD File Photo
The osprey, or sea eagle, is a large bird of prey that is commonly seen circling above lakes, rivers, streams and ponds, or perched on dead trees (also known as "snags") or telephone poles. It is almost the size of an eagle and is dark brown with a white head and a brown mask from the eyes down to the cheeks. It also has a white and brown breast and underside. The osprey has large talons that allow it to "fish" by diving down and gripping onto fish. Additionally, the skin of the osprey's feet is rough and prickly, helping the bird maintain its grip on a slippery fish. After catching a fish, the osprey returns to its perch to eat or feed its young. Occasionally an osprey will lock its talons in a fish that is too big for the bird to lift out of the water, but an osprey can usually lift up to a 4-pound fish out of water. Although resident Florida ospreys do not migrate, their out-of-town family members migrate north in the spring from wintering grounds in South America, Mexico or the southern United States. During migration, one osprey was timed in flight going between 20 and 80 miles per hour!
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