Plants and Animals
Pandion haliaetus Osprey
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
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S4 - Apparently secure
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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.
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
Natural Community Types
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.
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.
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
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.
Survey Period: From second week of May to first week of August
Time of Day: Daytime
- Bibby, C.J., N.D. Burgess, and D.A. Hill. 1992. Bird Census Techniques. Academic Press, New York.
- 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.