Pandion haliaetus (Linnaeus, 1758) OP OSPRE 3010
Family: Accipitriformes > Pandionidae

Osprey, Philip Croft

Feeding almost entirely on fish, this large brown and white bird of prey is a summer visitor to Britain, breeding at sites across Scotland and the north of England.

The first birds can arrive back as early as late February but the BirdTrack reporting rate graphs show the main arrival occurs in early April. In the early 1900s, the Osprey became extinct as a breeding bird in Britain but in 1955 a single pair set up home in Scotland and the Osprey was back. Thanks to a successful reintroduction programme Ospreys now also breed in both England and Wales.

Tracking studies have revealed the routes used by migrating Ospreys as they travel to and from their wintering grounds in West Africa.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Osprey

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Osprey identification is often straightforward.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Osprey, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call

Flight call


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Ospreys became more or less extinct in the early twentieth century (Dennis 2008) but numbers have increased substantially in the UK since the 1950s when successful breeding began at Loch Garten. The latest submissions to the RBBP give a mean figure of 242 breeding pairs over the five-year period 2015–2019 (Eaton et al. 2021). This is considered to be an under-estimate of the true population as coverage is no longer complete in the core part of the range in Scotland. The range of the species across the UK has also expanded, mostly as a result of successful reintroduction schemes.


The Osprey's main breeding range is the straths and lowlands of eastern and central Highlands of Scotland, plus Tayside and central Scotland. Through introductions and ongoing colonisation there are now breeding birds at several sites in southern England and Wales, and many summering birds associated with a number of large wetland complexes.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Ospreys are one of the earliest summer visitors, some individuals arriving as early as late February, though most don't arrive until April. Some individuals linger well into autumn.

Weekly occurence of Osprey from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Osprey ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Osprey, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Iolaire-iasgaich
Welsh: Gwalch Pysgod
Catalan: àguila pescadora
Czech: orlovec rícní
Danish: Fiskeørn
Dutch: Visarend
Estonian: kalakotkas
Finnish: sääksi (kalasääski)
French: Balbuzard pêcheur
German: Fischadler
Hungarian: halászsas
Icelandic: Gjóður
Irish: Coirneach
Italian: Falco pescatore
Latvian: zivjerglis
Lithuanian: erelis žuvininkas
Norwegian: Fiskeørn
Polish: rybolów
Portuguese: águia-pescadora / águia-pesqueira
Slovak: kršiak rybár
Slovenian: ribji orel
Spanish: Águila pescadora
Swedish: fiskgjuse
Folkname: Bald Buzzard


Interpretation and scientific publications about Osprey from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The effective extinction of Osprey as a UK breeding species in the early twentieth century was caused by persecution and egg-collecting (Dennis 2008). The increases since the 1950s have been driven by increased protection and intensive conservation action, including nest-guarding and a reintroduction programme in England (Schmidt-Rothmund et al. 2014).

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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