Facts about Osprey Names and Distribution

Global Distribution of Ospreys
Fact 1

The Latin name for osprey is Pandion haliaetus. The Pandion part comes from Greek, meaning King and so does the Haliaetus part;  "halos" meaning "sea" and "aetus" meaning "eagle".

Fact 2

The osprey is distinct from all other birds of prey, so much so that it has its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. Four subspecies are named: haliaetus, carolinensis, ridgwayi and cristatus.

Fact 3

Pandion haliaetus haliaetus – is found in the the Palearctic region. This covers Europe all the way to eastern Russia, Asia north of the Himalaya and North Africa. Most of the ospreys in this region migrate directly south during the non-breeding winter although some small populations that breed in sufficiently hot countries are non-migratory. Those ospreys that breed around the Red Sea and the Balearic islands for example.

Fact 4

Pandion haliaetus carolinensis – is found in North America: They tend to have a larger, darker body and a paler breast and head than 1. These too migrate south in the winter but some birds breeding in hotter areas like Florida, California and Mexico will stay put all year round.

Fact 5

Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi – is found in the Caribbean Islands: They have a very pale head and breast compared with 1, and only a weak 'eye mask'. These birds do not migrate.

Fact 6

Pandion haliaetus cristatus – is found in Australia and Tasmania: These do not migrate and some people consider these to be different enough from other osprey populations to be a separate species (Eastern Osprey).

Pandion haliaetus cristatus or Eastern Osprey. How funny looking are you!
Fact 7

Ospreys are found on every continent except for Antartica.

Fact 8

Ospreys have had lots of names over the centuries. Today we simply call them ospreys in English. In the past they have been known by various names including:

Fish Hawk, Fish Eagle, Sea Hawk and River Hawk, Mullet Hawk.

Fact 9

The agreed and accepted Welsh name for osprey is Gwalch y Pysgod. As in English they have had many names over the years including:

Môr Eryr (Sea Eagle)

Eryr y Môr (Eagle of the Sea)

Gwalch y Weilgi (Strait/Sea Hawk)

Eryr y Dŵr (Water Eagle)

Pysgeryr (Fish Eagle)

Barcud y Môr (Sea Kite)

Pysgodwalch (Fish Hawk)

Gwalch y Môr (Sea Hawk) 


Fact 10

Here are the words for osprey in a few more languages:

Russian: Skopa

Portuguese: Gavião pescador 

Japanese: Misago

Korean: Mulqswuli

Swedish: Fiskgjuse

Dutch: Visarend

German: Fischadler

Italian: Falco Pescatore