Plants and Animals

Pandion haliaetus Osprey

Key Characteristics

The Osprey is a large (22 -25 in / 56 - 64 cm) hawk with long, narrow wings, dark brown upper parts and white under parts. Its head is white with a dark eye streak. The dark "wrist" patches on the underside of its wings are visible in flight. Females may have dark streaking around their necks and immature bards have pale buff edging on the dark feathers of their upper surface.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S4 - Apparently secure

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alger122000
Allegan11999
Alpena62017
Antrim12017
Baraga62000
Barry32017
Benzie31995
Berrien32017
Calhoun12017
Charlevoix32017
Cheboygan82017
Chippewa722006
Clare31993
Clinton32017
Crawford52017
Delta352007
Dickinson92005
Emmet82017
Genesee62017
Gogebic212008
Grand Traverse32017
Gratiot42017
Hillsdale22017
Houghton11983
Ionia62017
Iosco22007
Iron342005
Isabella11992
Jackson22016
Kalamazoo62017
Kalkaska31994
Kent22017
Keweenaw102000
Lapeer82017
Lenawee32017
Livingston132017
Luce172003
Mackinac422001
Macomb32017
Manistee31995
Marquette122012
Mecosta132017
Menominee11994
Missaukee22017
Monroe152017
Montmorency82017
Muskegon11996
Newaygo12016
Oakland202017
Ogemaw62017
Osceola21995
Presque Isle11994
Roscommon232017
Schoolcraft162008
St. Clair32017
Washtenaw62017
Wayne72017
Wexford11998

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Historically, Ospreys nested only in trees or snags or on cliffs but they have adapted to use some man-made structures such as utility poles and towers, chimneys, windmills, buoys, and platforms. Preferred nest sites are above or near water. Reintroductions have begun in certain areas in southern Michigan in recent years.

Specific Habitat Needs

Snag/cavity needed in: Floodplain forestHardwood-conifer swampNorthern hardwood swampSouthern hardwood swamp.

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Human activity near nesting birds may interfere with nesting success. Maintenance and construction activities should be avoided in a quarter mile radius around active nests between the onset of courtship in April and fledging of young birds in July. Additionally, snags should be left standing along shorelines whenever safety permits, as they are utilized both for nesting and perching while hunting.

Active Period

Migration from fourth week of March to second week of April

Nesting from third week of April to fourth week of July

Migration from first week of September to third week of November

Survey Methods

Osprey are best surveyed by checking lakes, rivers, and reservoirs for foraging adults that may be soaring overhead or perched on a snag, platform, or utility pole. Following adults during the breeding season may lead to the discovery of a nest. Known locations of nests or nesting platforms constructed to attract nesting Ospreys may also be checked as they will commonly use the same nest in successive years.

Visual observation

Survey Period: From second week of May to first week of August

Time of Day: Daytime

References

Survey References

  • Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.

Technical References

  • Brewer, R., G. A. McPeek, and R. J. Adams Jr., eds. 1991. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. 650pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.