My Love of Ospreys

Male Osprey in flight with prey at Flaming Gorge ReservoirMale Osprey in flight with prey at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Utah – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 800, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Three days ago a first of the year sighting from the UBIRD group got me all excited because it means that the Ospreys have returned to Utah! North American Ospreys winter in Central and South American and southern sections of California and Florida and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Personally I have seen Ospreys as far south as the Caribbean and as far north as Alaska. In Virginia they arrived about mid-March and their arrival always seemed to coincide with the return of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (a double delight) and when I lived in the Tampa Bay Area they were year round residents.

Here in Utah Ospreys nest at many of the freshwater lakes and reservoirs including the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Daggett County and now that I know they have arrived I will be listening for their calls. There is a pond near where I live that Ospreys visit at times and if I have my windows open there is a possibility of hearing them as they fly overhead.

Female Osprey in a defensive posture at Honeymoon Island State ParkFemale Osprey in a defensive posture at Honeymoon Island State Park, Florida – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 300mm, natural light, not baited

I love hearing the call of Ospreys, watching them dive for fish, seeing them soar high overhead, mate, rear young and in flight with prey. I love the striking contrast of their light and dark plumage, their yellow eyes and huge talons. There really isn’t any thing I don’t love about them.

I think I was spoiled in Florida because I saw and heard them year round but here in Utah I eagerly look forward to their return in the spring and when I spot my first of the year Osprey I find it hard to contain myself. I can barely wait until I see my first Osprey of 2014!


Osprey are also called Sea Hawks, Fish Eagles, River Hawks and Fish Hawks.

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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Epic shots of the Osprey….I love the second one with the wings open. It is such a beautiful bird.

  2. Great shots and info Mia. I’m still looking for my first. Kaufman Field Guide says in flight, wings are held above horizontal, with a distinct “bend at wrist” and soaring at a distance suggest a large gull more than a hawk.

  3. I like birds of prey from holly Barnes

  4. Mia, I saw them all over Florida while I was there. I even saw one flying down Del Prado Blvd in Cape Coral chasing a Bald Eagle that had a fish. The birds were so involved in their fight that they dropped almost to street level and my brother had to put on his breaks to stop from hitting them! No, I did not get pics. I was in the back seat of the car, but what a thrill! I am still waiting for them to return to Maine! They are my husband’s favorite bird!

    • That’s amazing! It’s usually the other way around…eagles trying to steal from other birds, including other eagles.

  5. I can’t wait until the Ospreys return here too! I love the last photo, Mia, so three-dimensional :)

  6. How could you not love them? Gorgeous images – and I am looking forward to seeing your shots of this year’s magic.

  7. Phenomenal photographs. We love birds of pray.
    Best regards from Poland

  8. I hope you see it soon Mia. I’m anxiously awaiting my first of the year as well. That second photo is stunning. What a great capture of an interesting posture!

  9. Wonderful photos of ospreys! I love seeing them at the local beach…almost always see one soaring over the coast when getting some beach therapy!

  10. Wonderful images Mia ! We pass an empty Osprey nest ear the Truckee river, on our way to work. Hopefully, they will return again this season.

  11. Nice shots of a somewhat overlooked bird that too often plays second fiddle to the eagle. I love their colors and the patterns of their feathers. They aren’t as pushy as the the eagles tend to be and I’ve never seen one try to steal from another bird. They seem to be the gentlemen of the large raptor world…love the pose f the second image and the gnarly, weathered wood.

  12. The second is fantastic, l can know why you love them.

  13. I always enjoy your little dissertations with your beautiful/gorgeous photos – Very informative.

  14. Ospreys are such cool birds. Great shots as always, Mia.

  15. Your love of nature and photography really comes through in your photos, Mia.

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