osprey

/os"pree/, n., pl. ospreys.
1. Also called fish hawk. a large hawk, Pandion haliaetus, that feeds on fish.
2. a plume for trimming hats.
[1425-75; late ME ospray(e) L ossifraga OSSIFRAGE; cf. MF orfraie, offraie, OF ospres]

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Species (Pandion haliaetus) of long-winged hawk found along seacoasts and large interior waterways.

Ospreys are about 26 in. (65 cm) long and brown above and white below, with some white on the head. An osprey flies over the water, hovers above its prey, and then plunges feet first, seizing the fish in its long, curved talons. Ospreys breed on all continents except South America, where they live only in winter. They usually nest, singly or in colonies, high in trees or on cliffs. Bioaccumulation of pesticides caused populations to dwindle in the 20th century, but they are now recovering.

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bird
also called  fish hawk 
 large, long-winged hawk, about 65 cm (26 inches) long, that lives along seacoasts and larger interior waterways, where it catches fish. It is brown above and white below, with some white on the head.

 An osprey flies over the water to hunt. It hovers above its prey and then plunges feet first to seize a fish in its long, curved talons. With a grip secured by sharp spicules on the underside of the toes, the bird carries its prey to a favourite perch to feed. Sometimes after feeding the osprey flies low over the water, dragging its feet as if to wash them.

      The ospreys' extensive breeding range extends to all the continents except South America (where it occurs widely in winter) and the Antarctic. The North American population declined greatly after 1947 because of the eggshell-thinning effects of DDT residues but began to recover after the pesticide was banned in 1972. Exterminated from the British Isles by 1910, the osprey reappeared there as a successfully breeding species in the 1950s and is now firmly reestablished in Scotland.

 Single nests or colonies are built in tall trees, on the ground on small islands, or on ledges of cliffs. The nest is a bulky structure, up to 2 metres (6.6 feet) across, composed of haphazardly arranged sticks. The same nests may be used by many generations of birds, becoming huge in the process. Two to four white eggs marked boldly with dark brown blotches are laid. Downy young hatch in about five weeks and are fed by both parents. The young birds fledge in six to eight weeks.

      The osprey is the only species in the family Pandionidae, which is sometimes considered a subfamily (Pandioninae) of the hawk and eagle family, Accipitridae, of the order Falconiformes (falconiform).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • osprey — [äs′prē, äs′prā] n. pl. ospreys [LME ospray, ult. < L ossifraga, osprey, lit., the bone breaker < os, a bone (see OSSIFY) + frangere, to BREAK] a large, black and white diving bird of prey of a family (Pandionidae) having only one species… …   English World dictionary

  • Osprey — Os prey, Ospray Os pray, n. [Through OF. fr. L. ossifraga (orig., the bone breaker); prob. influenced by oripelargus (mountain stork, a kind of eagle, Gr. ?); cf. OF. orpres, and F. orfraie. See {Ossifrage}.] (Zo[ o]l.) The fishhawk ({Pandion… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • osprey — (n.) fishing hawk, mid 15c., from Anglo Fr. ospriet, from M.L. avis prede bird of prey, from L. avis praedæ, a generic term apparently confused with this specific bird in Old French on its similarity to OSSIFRAGE (Cf. ossifrage) …   Etymology dictionary

  • osprey — ► NOUN (pl. ospreys) ▪ a large fish eating bird of prey with a white underside and crown. ORIGIN apparently from Latin ossifraga, from os bone + frangere to break …   English terms dictionary

  • Osprey — For other uses, see Osprey (disambiguation). Osprey North American subspecies Conservation status …   Wikipedia

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