Osprey

A long winged fishing bird of prey with a distinctive reverse W-shaped outline.

The osprey has light underparts and dark patches midway up the wings. Both males and females look the same, but the latter are larger. Once they have paired up and the female is incubating, the male will range out to fish in rivers and lochs for the female. When the young have hatched the male is commonly seen carrying large fish back to the nest to feed them.

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Discover more about the Osprey

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When to see

The birds arrive from North Africa in April; leave Scotland in August - early September. In spring and autumn birds of passage will be seen at altitude. Found on many waterside sites throughout the Highlands during the summer. The large untidy nest is usually high in an open structured tree with a nearby perch for the returning male. Males hold the nest territory and at the end of the summer, the female leaves the male to complete the rearing of the surviving juveniles. He then in turn leaves the chicks to complete their own migration alone.

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Where to see

This is a protected species and people are encouraged to go to see regulated nest sites, where there are viewing facilities such as hides and remote camera viewing. For instance, in Perthshire, the Scottish Wildlife Trust site at Loch of the Lowes and in Speyside at the Rothiemurchus Estate.

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Did you know?

Males carry the fish they catch back to the nest, aligned “head first” in their large curved talons. This means that they are aerodynamically efficient.

Ospreys are summer visitors to Scotland, spending their winters in west Africa. Unlike other raptors, they feed exclusively on fish, both marine and freshwater and have specially adapted nasal valves which close when the bird in underwater. These birds travel south to Africa for the winter and can live for up to 40 years.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

The birds arrive from North Africa in April; leave Scotland in August - early September. In spring and autumn birds of passage will be seen at altitude. Found on many waterside sites throughout the Highlands during the summer. The large untidy nest is usually high in an open structured tree with a nearby perch for the returning male. Males hold the nest territory and at the end of the summer, the female leaves the male to complete the rearing of the surviving juveniles. He then in turn leaves the chicks to complete their own migration alone.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

This is a protected species and people are encouraged to go to see regulated nest sites, where there are viewing facilities such as hides and remote camera viewing. For instance, in Perthshire, the Scottish Wildlife Trust site at Loch of the Lowes and in Speyside at the Rothiemurchus Estate.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Males carry the fish they catch back to the nest, aligned “head first” in their large curved talons. This means that they are aerodynamically efficient.

Ospreys are summer visitors to Scotland, spending their winters in west Africa. Unlike other raptors, they feed exclusively on fish, both marine and freshwater and have specially adapted nasal valves which close when the bird in underwater. These birds travel south to Africa for the winter and can live for up to 40 years.

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

The birds arrive from North Africa in April; leave Scotland in August - early September. In spring and autumn birds of passage will be seen at altitude. Found on many waterside sites throughout the Highlands during the summer. The large untidy nest is usually high in an open structured tree with a nearby perch for the returning male. Males hold the nest territory and at the end of the summer, the female leaves the male to complete the rearing of the surviving juveniles. He then in turn leaves the chicks to complete their own migration alone.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

This is a protected species and people are encouraged to go to see regulated nest sites, where there are viewing facilities such as hides and remote camera viewing. For instance, in Perthshire, the Scottish Wildlife Trust site at Loch of the Lowes and in Speyside at the Rothiemurchus Estate.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Males carry the fish they catch back to the nest, aligned “head first” in their large curved talons. This means that they are aerodynamically efficient.

Ospreys are summer visitors to Scotland, spending their winters in west Africa. Unlike other raptors, they feed exclusively on fish, both marine and freshwater and have specially adapted nasal valves which close when the bird in underwater. These birds travel south to Africa for the winter and can live for up to 40 years.