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Osprey World Migratory Bird Day Species

FACT

The osprey is a relatively large hawk that lives and hunts in the water. The osprey has a mixture of white and brown feathers, the underside of its body and its wings are mainly white, with some brown spots, and the top of its wings is mainly brown. Male and female osprey for the most part look identical, with the smaller size of females being the most noticeable difference.

The osprey is known for its ability to catch fish. They circle a body of water in search of a fish to catch, then dive into the water and catch it with their claws. The osprey is quite unique in that it has a reversible outer toe, with which it grabs and secures prey when it comes out of the water. As a rule, their dives are successful in 25-70% of cases, and therefore they almost exclusively eat live fish.

While they spend most of their time nesting on a tall tree, they often nest on artificial structures such as utility poles or duck blinds. In both cases, they choose to nest high up in a large open space near the water. The female lays only one clutch of 2 to 4 eggs per year, the hatching of which takes an average of 38 days. After hatching, the young osprey learns to fly after about 51-54 days.

THE STORY

The osprey is considered a low-peril species in Canada. Like many water-loving birds, they suffered a sharp decline in their number in the 1950s-1970s due to the widespread use of harmful pesticides such as DDT. In addition, they were at high peril of being in their wintering grounds in South America in the past. Ospreys often hunt in aquaculture facilities in South America and have often been by workers trying to protect their fish. Today, regulations regarding osprey hunting are much stricter, which, combined with restrictions on the use of harmful pesticides, has led to a 200% increase in the number of ospreys in Canada since the 1970s. Based on the breeding bird survey, there are about 50,000 to 500,000 individuals in Canada today.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Despite the fact that their population is currently stable in Canada, the osprey is at peril of declining its population, mainly due to habitat loss and climate change. As with many other waterfowl species, brow to aquatic ecosystems, such as droughts and water pollution, can negatively affect fish populations, their main food source, leading in turn to a decrease in their number of ospreys. As many large trees have been cut down, the osprey is increasingly relying on artificial structures to build its nests. Unfortunately, mature ospreys sometimes contain various plastics in their nest that can wrap around a chick’s foot and injure it. For this reason, they are among the species most affected by plastic pollution. With this in mind, Canada has identified the osprey as a priority for conservation and accountability strategies, hoping to maintain its current number.

Overall, advocating for the conservation of wetlands in Canada, reducing single-use plastics and protecting nature in general are great ways to help support the osprey.

You can also get involved with a local bird team in your community to work on becoming a bird-friendly city or to host and attend an upcoming World Migratory Bird Day event in your area! You can also contact your city council and ask them to join cities like Vaughan, Barrie and Vancouver to announce your support for World Migratory Bird Day.

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