(1704) Pandion haliaetus haliaetus.
Falco haliaetus Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed. i, p. 91 (1758) (Sweden). Pandion haliaetus. Blanf, & Oates, iii, p. 314.
Vernacular names. Macliariya, Machmanga(Hin.); Macharang (Nep.); Machmoral, Bala (Beng.); Koramin gedda (Tel.); Hegguli (Yerkli); Verali-addi-pong (Tam.); Pantiong (Lepcha); Woon-let (Burm.).
Description. Head and neck white, the centre of the crown and nape broadly streaked with dark brown; a broad band from the eye, including the posterior ear-coverts, down the sides of the neck dark brown; upper plumage dark brown, the central tail-feathers tipped paler or whitish ; outer tail-feathers banded with paler brown on the outer and with whitish on the inner webs; wing-quills blackish brown; lower plumage white, boldly streaked with dark brown or fulvous-brown on the breast and, except in very old birds, narrowly streaked with dark brown on the sides of the chin and throat; under wing-coverts brown mottled with fulvous-white. In very old birds the bars on the tail become fainter ami obsolete.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow or golden yellow ; eyelids livid greenish or greenish-blue; bill black, tho cere and gape dull greenish-blue ; legs pale greenish or yellowish, daws black.
Measurements. Wing, 452 to 495 mm., 408 to 508 mm*; tail, 191 to 223 mm., 204 to 220 mm.; tarsus about 59 to 65 mm.; culmen 37 to 39 mm.
Young birds have the feathers of the upper parts and wing-coverts boldly edged with white or fulvous-white; the breast is Sometimes less marked with brown and the head, neck and face more heavily marked with dark brown.
Distribution. Practically the whole of India, Burma and Ceylon in Winter, either on the sea-coasts or wherever there are wide stretches of lake or swamp. In Summer it is found over nearly the whole of Europe and Asia, whilst it also breeds in Northern Africa, Cape Verde Islands, the Himalayas and, casually only, in the plains adjacent to the Himalayas.
Nidification. In Europe the Osprey breeds in April and May sometimes into the early part of June, laying two or three eggs, occasionally four. The nests are huge structures of sticks added to year after year, for they are occupied many years in succession, and placed high up on some big tree or rock, or upon the edge or side of a cliff. Sometimes there is no lining, sometimes there is a deep pad of leaves, rushes, weeds, etc. and at times all these materials together with sea-weeds form part of the nest itself. The eggs are very handsome. The ground is white, yellowish-white or pinkish, rarely a comparatively warm pink or salmon. The primary markings are all shades of deep red, red-brown, or purple-brown, usually numerous everywhere and sometimes forming more or less of a cap at the larger end. The secondary markings are inky-grey, lavender, or pale purple: A few eggs have the markings confined almost entirely to the larger end. One hundred eggs average 61.6 x 46.3 mm.: maxima 69.0 x 46.0 and 68.4 x 50.3 mm.; minima 50.4 X 41.3 and 55.2 x 40.2 mm. (Jourdain).
In India this bird undoubtedly breeds in the Himalayas and casually in the Plains. Parker took a single egg from a nest built on a lofty tree in the Botanical Gardens in Calcutta and a pair also bred for many years in Cachar, the nest being built in a tree, on an island in the centre of a vast swamp. Three eggs from this nest measure 61.1 x 46.0, 62.0 x 45.2 and 61.0 x 46.8 mm.
Habits. The Osprey is only found on the sea-coast or on large pieces of inland waters and swamps, for its food is almost en¬tirely fish. It surveys its domain from some lofty position and thence sails over the water, plunging with closed wings on its prey and often diving completely under water. It will seize and carry off fish of great size and is said occasionally to be drowned in attempting the capture of fish beyond its strength.