Osprey with a fish


Ospreys are quite a common sight in Florida due to the state’s abundant waterways and coastlines, which provide ideal fishing grounds for these birds. Here are some key points about ospreys in Florida:

  1. Habitat and Distribution: Ospreys in Florida can be found near lakes, rivers, salt marshes, and coastal regions. They are particularly common in areas with high fish populations, which are essential for their diet.
  2. Appearance: Ospreys are large birds of prey with a distinctive white underbelly, dark brown upperparts, and a white head with a dark stripe across the eyes. They have long, narrow wings and a wingspan that can reach over five feet.
  3. Diet: Their diet primarily consists of fish, which they catch with their sharp talons. They are known for their spectacular hunting technique, where they dive towards the water and snatch fish out with their feet.
  4. Nesting: Ospreys build large stick nests in high locations such as trees, cliff edges, or man-made structures like telephone poles and specially made nesting platforms. These platforms have become more common as part of conservation efforts to support their population.
  5. Migration: Many ospreys in Florida are year-round residents, but some are migratory, traveling to South America for the winter. The state’s mild climate and abundant food supply make it a suitable year-round habitat for many individuals.
  6. Conservation Status: The osprey population has rebounded in recent decades, thanks in part to conservation efforts and the banning of harmful pesticides like DDT, which once greatly reduced their numbers. They are generally not considered endangered in Florida.
  7. Observation Opportunities: Florida offers excellent opportunities for bird watchers to observe ospreys, especially in places like the Emerson Point Preserve, the coasts along the Gulf of Mexico, and various state parks and wildlife refuges.

Ospreys are a beloved part of Florida’s diverse wildlife and are admired for their fishing prowess and majestic presence. They contribute to the ecological health of Florida’s waterways by helping to keep fish populations in balance. We often see ospreys and their nests on our Desoto Kayak Tours.