Perth Raptor Care

Osprey Pandion haliaetus


Characteristics in Captivity

Ditzy, not terribly bright about new things. Clumsy on standard raptor perches, as they are adapted to having large spaces, big rocks or branches and wind assistance. Prone to bumble foot, as they do not walk well, and can stand on their talons. They hate enclosed spaces. Unless your Osprey is very ill, place in a giant size pet pack, or better still, your shower stall in the bathroom. They stress when confined too tightly. Wooden slatted aviaries appear to make them feel too enclosed, and they are reluctant to fly. Netting is preferred, and beach sand flooring is beneficial.

Hunting Strategies

Ospreys are mainly fishers. They are unusual in being the only raptor that dives in head and feet first- all the others plunge feet first, holding head clear of water, mostly avoiding getting their wings wet. Ospreys are able to take off after being briefly submerged, though they can become waterlogged. They swim well (as can most raptors). Nostrils can close to prevent entry of water.

To aid them in holding on to slippery fish, these raptors have spicules on their toes. These are modified scales. The claim that these birds often drown because they grab a fish that is too large is unsubstantiated. It may happen, but it is not a regular cause of death. Despite their rough feet and long curved talons, they are capable of opening their feet to release a struggling fish.

Hacking (to replenish populations) of Ospreys in the Northern hemisphere has shown their hunting activities to be very instinctive. Little learning is required for the young birds to be able to fend for themselves, though mortality is still higher in the younger birds. It would follow that some learning is taking place which allows the survivors to fare better in later years of life. One theory is that they must learn to compensate for the diffraction of light through water.


Ospreys will take prey besides fish. On Rottnest Island, the occasional Quokka is caught, as well as lizards. Oily fish species seem to be preferred over other fish, and should form the staple diet. As with all fish eaters, you must take care that they have enough Vitamin B, as this can break down in some dead fish and cause a deficiency in the bird. Salt in fish, aviary substrate and atmosphere may also be important for their health.


Female : 1200 - 1552g. Male : 985 - 1020g.

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