Raptors @ Osprey House

You may be lucky to see several of the four of Queensland's raptors that are residents of the Osprey House area.


Eastern Osprey - Pandion cristatus - has dark brown upperparts contrasting with pale underparts and has a black band through the eye, separating the white throat from the pale crown. The Osprey has a small head which it swivels or sways it from side to side. It has a strongly hooked beak and powerful legs. The female is similar to the male but is larger and has a fuller, darker breast band. The Osprey is found in coastal and lake areas and feeds mainly on medium-sized live fish which it rips apart to eat. When hunting it folds its wings, then drops headlong, with its feet forward to snatch a fish with its talons where it may go right under the water. The Osprey tends to use the same nest year after year which is made from sticks and driftwood and may be huge after many years. It is usually placed on a cliff, a dead tree or even a radio mast. Both birds bring sticks, but the female usually places the sticks in the nest. The nest is lined with grass, seaweed or bark. The female does most of the incubation, while the male brings food to the nest.


Brahminy Kite - Haliastur indus - has a white head and breast with the rest of its body a striking chestnut brown. The tip of its tail is white, its wings have dark wing tips and its legs are short and not feathered. It has a yellow coloured bill which is strongly hooked. The Brahminy Kite is a coastal bird, particularly around mangrove swamps and estuaries but can sometimes be seen over forests and along rivers. It feeds on carrion, insects and fish swooping low over water, ground or tree tops and snatching its prey. It also steals from fish-hunting birds, snatching prey in flight. Its nest is built in living trees near water, often mangrove trees, is large, made from sticks, seaweed or driftwood and lined with a variety of materials such as lichens, bones, seaweed and even paper. Both parents incubate the eggs and the young are fed bill to bill with small pieces of food.

Brahminy Kite
Whistling Kite - Haliastur sphenurus - has a shaggy appearance with a light brown head and underparts and dark sandy-brown wings with paler undersides. The underwings have a pale 'M' shape when open. The females are the larger. They are often seen near water or farms, soaring in a lazy circling pattern . Whistling Kites soar above the ground, trees and water to search for prey such as carrion and small live animals such as mammals, birds, fish and insects. Breeding pairs often remain in a territory throughout the year and pairs actively defend the area around a nest. The bulky nest platform is built of sticks in a tall tree and may be reused, growing larger over time. Both sexes build the nest and incubate the eggs, with the female undertaking most of the incubation, and may breed two or three times a year. The young stay with the parents after fledging for about six to eight weeks.Whisting Kite

White-bellied Sea Eagle - Haliaeetus leucogaster - is the second largest raptor found in Australia. It has white on the head, rump and underparts and dark grey on the back and wings. Its large, hooked bill is grey with a darker tip, and its eye is dark brown. The legs and feet are cream-white, with long black talons. The males are slightly smaller than females. White-bellied Sea-Eagles are common in coastal and near coastal areas and are normally seen perched high in a tree, or soaring over waterways and adjacent land. Birds form permanent pairs that inhabit territories throughout the year. It feeds mainly off aquatic animals, such as fish, turtles and sea snakes, but it takes birds and mammals as well. It is a skilled hunter, and will attack prey up to the size of a swan. Sea-Eagles also feed on carrion such as sheep and fish along the waterline. They build a large stick nest, which is used for many seasons in succession and can be located in a tree up to 30m above the ground, but may also be placed on the ground or on rocks, where there are no suitable trees. At the start of the breeding season, the nest is lined with fresh green leaves and twigs. The female carries out most of the incubation of the white eggs, but the male performs this duty from time to time.

White-breasted Sea Eagle
Images @ Australian Museum.