osprey (ŏsˈprē) [key], common name for a bird of prey related to the hawk and the New World vulture and found near water in most parts of the world. The American osprey, or fish hawk, Pandion haliaetus, has white underparts and a wingspread of 5 to 6 ft (152 to 183 cm). It feeds solely on live fish and is usually seen hovering over the water, into which it plunges feet first to grasp its prey. Ospreys are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Falconiformes, family Pandionidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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