Is the Seahawk a Real Bird?
My hometown is Portland, Oregon. We do not have a professional football team. I’ve always cheered for the Seahawks, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that they are real birds. Commonly known as ospreys, these are truly awe-inspiring predators to see in person. I wanted to share their majesty, and have compiled facts, photos and video in a shameless attempt to get more fans before a very popular football competition this Sunday. Some people may say this is biased, and they would be correct.
Fish make up 99% of their diet.
I’m pretty sure the other 1% is bronco.
Ospreys are ambush hunters.
They rely on their impeccable eyesight and timing to win football games. I mean, catch prey.
Ospreys have a reversible outer toe.
Owls and ospreys are the only raptors with a reversible outer toe, allowing them to grasp a
football fish with two toes in front and two behind.
One osprey flew 2,700 miles in just 13 days.
That’s the equivalent of 4,752,000 yards and a lot of touchdowns. Experts believe these birds can log over 160,000 miles throughout their 15-20 year lifetimes. Let’s just say they can go the distance.
They have sharp spines on the bottom of their feet.
These spines allow ospreys to grasp slippery fish. Another adaptation to help them hunt are the scales on the shank of their legs, instead of feathers.
They are the only raptor to plunge into water for prey.
Although eagles and other birds catch fish, ospreys are unique in their ability to dive into the water. They can dive from heights of up to 100 feet, and completely submerge.
They are found on every continent, except Antartica.
Clearly it doesn’t matter if they are home or away, or how cold it is, ospreys suck it up and play.
How to Help
- Check out this book about ospreys, Wild Wings.
- Download this coloring page and fact sheet about ospreys.
- Read more about osprey migrations and other unique behaviors.
- Download this activity worksheet about birds of prey.
How NWF is Helping Ospreys:
- Chesapeake Bay- NWF works to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, home to many ospreys.
- Gulf of Mexico – NWF works to address the BP Oil Spill in osprey habitat such as Bon Secour Refuge.
- Michigan – NWF works to address the Enbridge oil spill, which affected osprey habitat.
- North Carolina – NWF certified a Community Wildlife Habitat where they built osprey platforms.
- Tribal Lands – NWF’s Tribal Lands program works with tribes to protect osprey habitat, such as the White Mountain Apache.