Ospreys are nesting once again this year at the entrance to MacDonald’s Beach near Eastern Passage. Nova Scotia’s provincial bird is found on all continents except Antarctica and its appearance remains the same, regardless of its home. It often nests near fresh lakes and rivers. Fresh fish make up 99% of its diet.
With a wingspan of between 4.5 and 6 feet, Ospreys are attractive raptors, and are often mistaken for eagles. Locally, they are frequently seen hunting along the salt marsh and Rainbow Haven Beach. They are remarkable for their ability to hover in the air and then plummet into the water at high speeds that can reach up to 80 mph during a dive. With talons that have two claws facing forward and two facing back, adults are able to grab hold of fish that are equal to them in size, sometimes diving 3 feet underwater to reach their prey.
Ospreys can live for up to 30 years in the wild. They usually mate for life and will often return to their original nest year after year, rebuilding it as needed. These nests can be up to 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
Two to three eggs are usually laid in a year. The young hatch one at a time and are constantly watched by at least one of the parents. The older, stronger chicks are fed first and will sometimes throw younger siblings out of the nest if food is scarce.
In the fall, Ospreys migrate to warmer climates in Central and South America.