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Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North Dakota

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Pandion haliaetus

The osprey is a specialized fish-catching hawk that is almost invariably associated with water. Most ospreys are sighted along major river and lake systems in North Dakota in mid-April and early September during migration. However, there are rare cases of ospreys breeding in North Dakota. The osprey is identifiable by the presence of a black band through the eye separating the white crown and white throat along with a strongly hooked bill and long narrow wings.

The osprey's diet consists almost entirely of fish which are usually taken alive and can weigh up to four pounds. It commonly takes fish that are near the surface and northern pike seem to be one of its favorites. When an osprey sights a fish, it hovers briefly in flight and then plunges on its prey directly from straight flight. Ospreys are very skilled fishers and are successful up to 90% of the time on fish dives.

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