Where can you find Ospreys?

Ospreys are a very cosmopolitan species (Pandion haliaetus).  That means that they are found in most parts of the world.  Although I can’t attest to that fact, I have seen Ospreys in the Wyoming (where Oscar lives in the Grand Tetons), Colorado, California, Florida, and in Texas.  And I’ve heard from readers who have said that now that they are on the lookout for Ospreys are spotting them all across North America, although they are primarily in the coastal regions. 

They tolerate a wide variety of habitats, with a propensity for nesting near bodies of water that provides them with an adequate food supply (almost exclusively of fish, although they do prey on small mammals and reptiles and even other birds). 

Ospreys build large nests of sticks located in the tops of tall living or dead trees and on manmade structures such as utility poles, channel markers and nest platforms.  They have adapted so well to artificial nest sites that the species now nests in areas (e.g., in cities) once considered unsuitable.  The nests are commonly reused for many years, as the return with their life-long mates to annually breed.

They are found on all continents except Antarctica.  Since they have a large migratory range, they cover many thousands of miles in their annual treks.  Migration is a major element in Oscar’s story because it would be necessary for the Ospreys in the Tetons to leave their breeding home and head over the Mountains to winter in South America.  The severity of the cold in winter in and around Yellowstone National Park was not something the Ospreys could tolerate.  I guess I took some literary privilege in making it impossible for Oscar to fly over the mountain.  In truth, he could have circled around the mountains in order to make the migration.  It would have made his trip longer, but Ospreys fly great distances in their journeys.

If you are diligent, you should be able to find an Osprey somewhere round your home or on your travels…look for them in such places as National Parks, in water ways, on manmade platforms, high in large trees, and on mountain outcroppings.  They are diurnal birds of prey, and thus are most active during the daytime, which is the best time to observe them.

So bring along your binoculars, because you will want to see them up close…they are beautiful birds!