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Thread subject: Osprey's Diet
Name Date Message
Anne 06/01/05 05:19 pm Apparently last year the ospreys' fed a dead chick to it's siblings. I'm glad I dident see THAT. This leads me to wonder if adult ospreys eat anything else other than fish, and if so, what. All the Bird Books say that ospreys eat MAINLY fish, so what is the diet when fish cant be caught?
Tiger 06/01/05 05:24 pm Well if you want too look at last year's highlights.


Marie 06/01/05 05:27 pm other small birds for one thing.....I have seen the young on grass poking around so they may well eat insects too......
Cecelia and Celeste will have the answers I am sure for you Anne
Melanie 06/01/05 05:30 pm One of the gals in my office swears that she sees ospreys swooping down and snagging mallard chicks on the water. Does anyone know if that can be right? I was under the impression that they will go after other birds only when there is nothing else available.
Anne 06/01/05 05:30 pm Actually, when I was watching ospreys catching fish from a reservoir I noticed that the gulls and ducks there scattered. They obviously recognise ospreys as a predator.
Matt 06/01/05 06:34 pm Fish make up 99% of Osprey's diet. If there are no fish available, they will resort to catching mice, rats, chipmunks, basically any type of rodent. I also wouldn't be surprised if they did catch a baby mallard. But usually they won't resort to other food sources unless they're desperate.

With their own young, remember they want to keep the nest clean. Originally it was thought that they tossed the dead young over the nest, but we learned differently last year.
Melanie 06/01/05 07:32 pm I do know that cannibalism of dead chicks is not particular to Ospreys. Other raptors do it as well.
Tiger 06/01/05 08:04 pm Oh you are so right there Melanie. On one of the peregrine nests one of the chicks got cold and wet and died. Dad had no bother catching tea that day!

Celeste 06/01/05 08:35 pm Matt you are right about osprey eating things other than fish as a last resort. Also when I read the reports of an observer from the 1800's, he too concurred that they are mostly fish eaters, however, he did one day come across a farmer who had just killed an osprey, because this starving osprey was killing her chickens. The dead osprey was extremely thin and ragged looking according to his observation. Yes, the feeding of the chick was highly unusual,and we might have been the very first to have witness such behavior as David Gessner pointed out to us last Fall.

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Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 18, 2006