Osprey Facts: Lesson for Kids

The osprey is a bird of prey that can be found throughout the world. In this lesson, learn about the physical characteristics of ospreys, and find out about their habitats and behaviors.

Bird of Prey

Check out that huge bird flying overhead! It’s an osprey, which is a bird of prey that lives all throughout the world, except Antarctica. A bird of prey is a bird that hunts other animals for food. Let’s find out more about these amazing birds and how they survive in the wild.

Ospreys are birds of prey that live on almost every continent.
osprey

Physical Characteristics

Stretch your arms out wide. How long do you think your arm span measures from one hand to the other? It’s probably about the same length as the osprey’s wingspan, which measures about five or six feet. The large wingspan is very helpful for catching a burst of wind in the air! It also comes in handy when ospreys migrate, which is when they fly to warmer climates for the winter months or for other seasons.

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Ospreys have a wingspan of five or six feet.
osprey

These birds have sharp claws called talons, which are useful for catching a snack. And here’s something else pretty cool: Their feet actually have pads that help them grip their prey so that the prey doesn’t fall to the ground. It’s like they have built-in gloves!

Diet and Habitat

What if you could only eat fish for the rest of your life? You would probably be bummed out! But to an osprey, that sounds like a perfect menu. Ospreys have a diet that’s almost all fish. In fact, they only eat other small mammals or birds if fish are very hard to find.

So if fish is the main item in an osprey’s diet, can you guess where they like to live? They live near bodies of water! Ospreys are not really picky about what type of water they live near, so you can find them around salty oceans and also near freshwater lakes. They really love marsh areas, where lots of fish can be found easily.

Animal Competition

Do you know what a bald eagle looks like? Do you think you could tell the difference between a bald eagle and an osprey? Many people actually get them confused. And that’s not the only way that the bald eagle provides some competition for the osprey. Bald eagles like to challenge ospreys for food, as well. Bald eagles have been known to watch ospreys catch fish. Then, the bald eagle will attack the osprey to make it drop the fish so the eagle can catch the fish in the air. Pretty sneaky!

Life Cycle

Female ospreys lay between two and four eggs at a time, and these eggs go through an incubation period of a little over a month. This period is when the female sits on the eggs and keeps them warm, preparing them to hatch. After hatching, the babies take their first flight when they are a little less than two months old. Ospreys live an average of 30 years in the wild.

Osprey babies will fly less than two months after hatching.
bird of prey

Once Endangered

In the mid-1900s, ospreys were endangered, meaning they were in danger of no longer existing. This was because of pesticides used by farmers. Pesticides like DDT were used to kill bugs that damaged crops, but they also killed other animals. These pesticides were banned in the 1970s, and since then the osprey population has steadily increased.

Lesson Summary

Ospreys are birds of prey that live throughout the world, except Antarctica. They have large talons and other special features to help them capture fish from bodies of water. Osprey eggs hatch after an incubation period of about a month, and now that they are not endangered, they can live to be 30 years old.

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