Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Watchable Wildlife: Osprey

Did You Know?

  • Ospreys catch fish using their long, hooked talons.
  • An osprey landing in its nest
    Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
    Photo: Susan L. Shafer
  • An osprey sometimes plunges deep enough into water to momentarily submerge its entire body.
  • Ospreys often use the same nest year after year and add more sticks each year.
  • Nests can sometimes become quite large-up to 10 feet tall!
Watchable Wildlife binoculars icon

What to Watch for:

Size:

The osprey measures 22-25 inches, with a wingspan of 4-6 feet.

The female is slightly larger than the male.

Appearance:

Adults are dark brown above and white below with a white head, a dark crown, and eye stripes.

In flight, the osprey's long, narrow wings appear to have a crook with dark patches at the wrist.

Where to Watch:

Osprey feed on fish, so look for them along coastlines on Long Island, and on Adirondack lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Osprey lay eggs in a large nest of sticks constructed at the top of a dead tree or on artificial nesting platforms or other structures.

What to Listen for:

Slow whistled guard call - kyew kyew kyew
Alarm call - short clear whistle to faster, higher squeal

When to Watch:

Osprey are typically in New York State from April to September. Some migrate to South America for the winter.

More Information about Osprey

The Best Places to See the Osprey:

Click on the links below to get more information about each site.

Return to the Watchable Wildlife main page.