Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an… osprey!
Don’t be fooled by their musical chipping call, ospreys are a powerful bird of prey that dominates the top of the food chain. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, and Canada is lucky to be the home for about one third of the world’s osprey population.
It’s Looking a Bit Eyrie
Did you know that ospreys have cottages too? Well, not exactly. Every spring, osprey will start their yearly migration to Canada, sometimes flying as much as 5,000 km a day! And with a wingspan that reaches over one meter long, this migration is a piece of cake!
Ospreys will return to the same nesting site, or eyrie, every year. But after almost a year of neglect, they have to spend some time tidying up the nest. Being the resourceful animals they are, ospreys will use any objects they can find to maintain their home. Usually twigs, grasses, and moss are used to patch up any holes, but some ospreys have even been spotted using hula-hoops, rag dolls, and pieces of a lawnmower. In the end, most nests are around 1-2 meters wide, and weigh over 300 lbs!
Gold Medal Diver
I have to admit, ospreys know how to pick a prime location for a nest. You can usually find them at the top of the tallest tree near a body of water, like a lake or river. This gives them quick and easy access to their favourite food…fish! Ospreys have amazing eyesight and can spot a fish from the air around 40 meters away. In an incredible display of strength, they will dive from the sky with wings closed and feet stretched forward and hit the water with extreme force. After disappearing under the surface, they reappear with a fish firmly clutched in their talons.
Now I don’t know about you, but holding a slippery and squirming fish can be quite challenging. Well, fortunately, ospreys don’t have that problem! They have spines on the bottom of their feet and a toe that rotates, so they are able to get a good grip before flying away with their food. In fact, ospreys are so good at fishing, they can catch a fish in about one out of four dives!
Ospreys are pretty amazing animals, and we want to do what we can to make sure they have a safe place to call home. That’s why we’re working with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority on the Meadoway Project, which will create a huge habitat through Toronto filled with everything the osprey needs to survive.
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