osprey defined in 1930 yearosprey - Osprey;
osprey - Feathers of the head and neck white with dark centres; on each side of the neck a streak of blackish brown, extending downwards; upper plumage generally deep brown; under parts white, tinged here and there with yellow, and on the breast marked with arrow-shaped spots; tail-feathers barred with dusky; cere and beak dark grey; iris yellow. Length, two feet.
The osprey, like the sea-eagle, hen harrier, and kite, is one of the species that linger with us on the verge of extinction; and it may linger for many years, as in the case of the avocet, the black- tailed godwit, and the ruff, after these species had been reduced to a few breeding pairs; and, on the other hand, it may be gone to-morrow. That it will remain permanently as a member of the British avifauna is scarcely to be hoped.
The osprey, like the peregrine falcon and the short-eared owl, has an immense range, and inhabits Europe, Africa, the greater part of Asia, Japan, Formosa, the Australian region, New Guinea, and America. With us it appears in autumn as a migrant in small numbers; but the birds of the British race are now reduced to one or two pairs that breed annually in the Highlands of Scotland, and are strictly protected in their summer haunts.
The osprey feeds exclusively on fish, which it drops upon like a tern or gannet; but, falcon-like, it strikes with its feet, and, with its slippery prey gripped firmly in its sharp, crooked talons, it flies back to land.
The nest is usually placed in a tree, and is very large, formed of sticks, and lined with moss. Two or three eggs are laid, white or buff in ground-colour, blotched with rich chestnut-red, and purple-grey underlying marks.
Besides the twelve species of the order Accipitres described, all of which breed in the British Islands, there are fourteen others, which, although described as British in the standard ornithological works, are only occasional or accidental visitors or stragglers to our shores. There are two vultures to be mentioned: the griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), an inhabitant of Southern Europe, Africa, and Asia, once obtained in Ireland; and the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), an inhabitant of Southern Europe and Africa, twice obtained. The next species is the marsh-harrier (Circus ceruginosus), once abundant throughout Great Britain and Ireland, now, unhappily, extinct as a British species. This harrier, which was also called the moor-buzzard, is a graceful, handsome bird: the head creamy white; upper parts brown; beneath, buff, streaked with brown and chestnut; part of the wing and the tail silvery grey. In its buoyant flight and preying and nesting habits it resembles the hen harrier, but frequents fens and marshes instead of moors and uplands.
The rough-legged buzzard (Archibuteo lagopus) is an irregular visitor, chiefly in autumn and winter, from the northern parts of Europe. It differs from the common buzzard in having its legs feathered to the toes - hence the specific name, lagopus - rough- footed like a hare. This species is of more frequent occurrence in the British Islands than any other occasional visitor among the diurnal raptors, and in some years it appears in considerable numbers.
The spotted eagle (Aquila clanga), known to us as a rare occasional visitor, breeds in the forests of central and south-eastern Europe. More interesting to us is the goshawk (Asturpalumbcurius), since this fine bird of prey, although now a very rare straggler to Great Britain, is believed to have been formerly an indigenous species, and to have bred in Scotland down to the beginning of the present century. In form, colouring, and manner of preying it resembles the sparrow-hawk, but is nearly double the size of that bird, and flies at very much larger game.
The American goshawk has been included in the list of British birds on ' somewhat slight evidence,' as the author of the ' Manual of British Birds ' says. The black kite (Milvus nigrans) is an African species, a summer visitant to Europe south of the Baltic, and has once been obtained in Great Britain. The swallow-tailed kite (Elcvnoïdes furcatus), an American species, which I once had the pleasure of seeing (not in a glass case, but sitting on a tree, and soaring in the air), has also been found as a straggler in this country. The honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus) is a third species of hawk in this list which has disappeared from this country. Like the hobby and the osprey, it is (or was) a summer visitant, and has been known to breed in most English and Scottish counties from Hampshire to Aberdeenshire. Up to within four or live years ago a few pairs continued to return to us each summer, but these, too, have now vanished. This fine large hawk, in size the equal of the common buzzard, lived almost entirely on insect food, wasps and wild bees especially - hence its name of honey-buzzard.
The remaining species to be noticed are all true falcons: the gyrfalcon (Hierofalco gyrfalco), an inhabitant of arctic Scandinavia, only once obtained in this country; the Greenland falcon (Hierofalco candicans), a wanderer to this country from north-west America and Greenland; the Iceland falcon (Hierofalco islandicus), a wanderer from Iceland; the red-footed falcon (Tinnunculus vespertinus), an occasional visitor from the warm countries of Europe; and the lesser kestrel (Tinnunculus cenchris), a visitor from southern Europe, where it breeds.
pictures for osprey
near osprey in Knolik
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