Photo of oceanfront property belonging to a osprey in Clearwater, Florida (2014).
The osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle, river hawk or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm (24 in) in length and 180 cm (71 in) across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts.
The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
As its other common name suggests, the osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialised physical characteristics and exhibits unique behaviour to assist in hunting and catching prey. As a result of these unique characteristics, it has been given its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are usually recognized, one of which has recently been given full species status (see below). Despite its propensity to nest near water, the osprey is not classed as a sea-eagle.