Is the Seahawk a Real Bird?

from Wildlife Promise

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.

Osprey photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Kim Taylor in Alexandrai, VA.

Osprey photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Kim Taylor in Alexandria, VA.

Ospreys are ambush hunters.

They rely on their impeccable eyesight and timing to win football games. I mean, catch prey.

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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.

National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Christopher Beasley took this photo of an osprey while kayaking.

National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Christopher Beasley took this photo of an osprey while kayaking.

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.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Linda Roy Walls.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Linda Roy Walls.

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.

Osprey Gripping Fish by Ken Lee

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Ken Lee.

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.

This photo of an osprey diving into water for a catch was donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Liang Jin.

This photo of an osprey diving into water for a catch was donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Liang Jin.

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.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Ron Graddy.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Ron Graddy.

How to Help

Osprey Activities:

How NWF is Helping Ospreys:

Touchdown! Game over.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Lynn Cleveland.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Lynn Cleveland.