Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
A migrating osprey soars over Lake Jacksonville during the fall of 2000. Ospreys rarely nest in Illinois but can sometimes be seen during migration. Bald eagles reaching maturity are sometimes mistaken for ospreys. If the white head of an eagle is streaked, it can lead to some confusion.
Seeing a fish in the lake below, an osprey folds up its wings and begins to dive.
It picks up speed as it heads for the water.
It hits the water with a large splash and seems to disappear beneath the surface.
No luck this time. The osprey takes off from the water to try again.
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Quick Facts About Ospreys:

Mostly fish. Ospreys are seen hunting over bodies of water.


Recovering after being pushed to the brink of extinction by the use of pesticides like DDT. DDT is still used in some countries south of the United States so migratory birds like ospreys are still at risk. For more about the history of DDT, go to our bald eagle page.

When Do We See Them?

A few Ospreys nest in Illinois, but the best time to see them is during spring and fall migration.

Where Do We See Them?

Near lakes, rivers, streams and sometimes ponds.

A.K. A.

"Fish Hawk"