Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine as Pandion haliaetus
Listed migratory - Bonn as Pandion haliaetus
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Pandion haliaetus.
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument] as Pandion haliaetus.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Raptor and Water Birds Nest Trees - North east NSW. Natural Resource Management Advisory Series: Note 6 (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2004k) [Information Sheet].
NSW:Osprey - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005os) [Internet].
NSW:Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife-Osprey Pandion haliaetus cristatus (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Foundation, 2010) [Internet].
NSW:Review of the Threatened Species Conservation Act Schedules 2007-2009 (NSW Scientific Committee (NSW SC), 2009b) [State Species Management Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Vulnerable (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Pandion cristatus
SA: Listed as Endangered (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list) as Pandion haliaetus
Scientific name Pandion cristatus [82411]
Family Accipitridae:Falconiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Vieillot, 1816)
Infraspecies author  
Other names Pandion haliaetus [952]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Pandion cristatus

Common name: Eastern Osprey

Other names: White-headed Osprey, Fish Hawk

The taxonomy of the Eastern Osprey is controversial. The most widely accepted contemporary taxonomic arrangement recognises a single species, Pandion haliaetus, with four subspecies: nominate subspecies haliaetus in the Palearctic, carolinensis in North America, ridgwayi in the Caribbean and cristatus (or leucocephalus) in Australasia and New Caledonia (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001; Poole 1994; Prevost 1983; Sibley & Monroe 1990). However, Wink and colleagues (2004) and Wink and Sauer-Gürth (2004) studied three of the four subspecies (haliaetus, carolinensis and cristatus) and proposed that each be elevated to full species status based on differences in distribution, morphology and genetics between the three taxa. This treatment was accepted by Christidis and Boles (2008) but has not been adopted by BirdLife International (2007k) or Remsen and colleagues (2008). This profile follows Christidis and Boles (2008) and Dickinson (2003) in elevating subspecies cristatus to full species status as the Eastern Osprey, Pandion cristatus.

The Eastern Osprey is a medium-sized raptor (length 50–65 cm; wingspan 145–170 cm; weight 1.0–1.1 kg in adult males and 1.2–1.9 kg in adult females). Adults are mainly dark-brown to blackish-brown above and white below with a white head and neck, streaked blackish-brown; a dark-brown to blackish-brown crest; a black stripe across the eye and ear; a band of reddish-brown, brown or dark-brown streaking across the breast (sparse or absent in males); a white and pale greyish-brown underwing with black carpal patches and black trim; a white to pale greyish-brown undertail; yellow irides; a black bill; and white to pale grey legs and feet (Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993). The sexes are similar in appearance but can be distinguished when together by differences in size and plumage (females are typically larger than males and usually have darker and more distinct streaking on the breast). Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but can be distinguished by multiple differences in plumage and their darker, yellow-orange irides (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Eastern Ospreys usually occur singly, occasionally in twos, or more rarely in family groups (Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995). In Australia, breeding is in solitary pairs (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

The breeding range of the Eastern Osprey extends around the northern coast of Australia (including many offshore islands) from Albany in Western Australia to Lake Macquarie in NSW; with a second isolated breeding population on the coast of South Australia, extending from Head of Bight east to Cape Spencer and Kangaroo Island (Abbott 1982; Barrett et al. 2003; Bischoff 2001; Blakers et al. 1984; Clancy 1991; Condon 1969; Dennis 2007a; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993). The total range (breeding plus non-breeding) around the northern coast is more widespread, extending from Esperance in Western Australia to NSW, where records become scarcer towards the south, and into Victoria and Tasmania, where the species is a rare vagrant (Barrett et al. 2003; Blakers et al. 1984; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Morris et al. 1981). The distribution of the species around the northern coast (south-western Western Australia to south-eastern NSW) appears continuous except for a possible gap at Eighty Mile Beach (Barrett et al. 2003; Blakers et al. 1984).

There are no published estimates of the extent of occurrence of the Eastern Osprey within Australia.

The area of occupancy of the Eastern Osprey in Australia is estimated at 117 400 km². The range of the species has contracted in south-eastern Australia since settlement (Olsen 1995; White 1985). There is a single historical breeding report from Saint Georges Basin in NSW (North 1912). Historical reports suggest that Eastern Ospreys were probably once uncommon in Tasmania from Bass Strait south to Recherche Bay (Gould 1865; Hall 1924; Le Souëf 1902; Littler 1910a; North 1912); and in South Australia, pairs formerly bred along the eastern coast of Spencer Gulf and along the lower Murray River (Dennis 2007a).

Ospreys are held in at least nine zoos or institutions around the world including Australia Zoo in Queensland, Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria and Territory Wildlife Park in the Northern Territory. These captive populations are not confirmed to include Eastern Ospreys (International Species Information System 2008) but it is plausible that captive populations in Australia were founded from local stock.

The breeding population of Eastern Ospreys in South Australia is small and fragmented (Dennis 2007a). Active nests in the Great Australian Bight region were found to be, on average, around 33 km apart, with a range of 3–83 km. Excluding vacant areas of Spencer Gulf and Yorke Peninsula, 14 active nests in central South Australia were found to be, on average, around 20 km apart, with a range of 7–45 km. Twelve active nests on Kangaroo Island were found to be, on average, 28.7 km apart, with a range of 4–69 km (Dennis & Baxter 2006). The breeding population in NSW is also small and probably somewhat fragmented, but population densities have increased in recent years. For example, surveys in 1980–1982 located only 15 nests along a 560 km section of the north-eastern coast of NSW, a mean density of one nest per 37 km (Clancy 1989). However, surveys in 1997–1999 located at least 40 pairs in a 100 km section of the coast from Grassy Head to Old Bar (Bischoff 2001).

The Eastern Osprey occurs in Indonesia, Philippines, Palau Islands, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Australia (Mayr & Cottrell 1979; Poole 1989, 1994; Prevost 1983).

The global population size of the Eastern Osprey is not precisely known, but is estimated to number less, and probably much less, than 212 000 pairs (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001; Poole et al. 1989; Rich et al. 2004). Global population trends have not been quantified. Threats to overseas populations are similar to those confronting populations in Australia (Zalles & Bildstein 2000). The Eastern Osprey is not recognised as a species by BirdLife International and so has not been assigned a global status. The single species of Osprey that is recognised by BirdLife International, Pandion haliaetus, is classified as Least Concern at the global level (Birdlife International 2007k).

It is not possible to estimate the proportion of the global population that occurs within Australia because of a lack of information. Members of the Australian population may move beyond Australian jurisdiction: seasonal increases in Eastern Osprey numbers in Sulawesi are partly due to the arrival of birds from farther south, presumably from Australia (Ferguson-Lees & Christie 2001). Birds from Australia may therefore be exposed to threats operating outside of Australian jurisdiction.

The Eastern Osprey has been well surveyed in NSW and South Australia but not in other states or territories.

In NSW, surveys were conducted along the north-eastern coast from 1980–1982 (Clancy 1989), in 1988 (Clancy 1991) and from 1997–1999 (Bischoff 2001). Additional surveys have been conducted in NSW in more recent years but the results of these surveys are unpublished.

In South Australia, opportunistic and targeted surveys were conducted from 1977–2005, including: ground searches of western Eyre Peninsula coastline and offshore islands from 1977 to 1983 and opportunistic surveys of the same areas between 1995 and 2002; a systematic survey of western Eyre Peninsula in 2003; an on-foot excursion from Point Adieu to Wilson Bluff in 1994, plus follow-up point surveys in 1995 and 2001; visits to offshore islands of South Australia between 1995 and 2005; and surveys on Kangaroo Island from 1983 to 2003 conducted concurrently with systematic monitoring of breeding sites from 1985 to 2001 and in 2004 (Dennis 2004, 2007a, 2007b).

The Eastern Osprey is considered to be moderately common in Australia (Olsen 1998). The species is most abundant in northern Australia, where high population densities occur in remote areas (Garnett 1993; Johnstone & Storr 1998). The species is rare to uncommon in southern Western Australia (Johnstone & Storr 1998) and occurs in low numbers in South Australia (~52 pairs in 2005 (Dennis 2007a)), and NSW (~100 pairs in 1996 (Clancy 2006)).

The Eastern Osprey occurs in at least two subpopulations in Australia: one or more populations around the northern coast of Australia from south-western Western Australia to south-eastern NSW; and a geographically-isolated population in South Australia (Barrett et al. 2003; Blakers et al. 1984; Dennis 2007a; Johnstone & Storr 1998).

Numbers appear to be stable in northern Australia (Dennis 2007a; Garnett 1993). A population on Barrow Island was estimated at 20 pairs in 1978 (Sedgwick 1978) and 50 individuals in 2000–2001 (Pruett-Jones & O'Donnell 2004).

The breeding population in South Australia was estimated at 52 pairs in 2005 (Dennis 2007a). The population suffered a sizeable contraction in range and a possible concurrent decline in population size during the 20th century. Eastern Ospreys bred at Spencer Gulf (including Port Germein, Mambray Creek, Port Broughton and Corny Point) in the early to mid 1900s, but each of these sites has been vacant for more than 50 years. Pairs also formerly bred along the lower Murray River, with the most recent records of breeding activity from near Waikerie (breeding sites occupied in 1974 but deserted thereafter) (Dennis 2007a) and near Nildottie (breeding recorded in 1980) (Robinson 1980). In South Australia, some breeding sites on Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island are considered vulnerable to human disturbance (Dennis 2007a).

The breeding population in north-eastern NSW suffered a decline post-settlement but has increased in size and range in recent years (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 2006; Olsen 1995). Surveys conducted in 1980–1982 located 15 active nests from Tweed Heads to Raymond Terrace (Clancy 1989, 2006). The population was re-surveyed in 1988 and, based on the results of this survey and reports from 1989 and 1990, the total breeding population was estimated at 45 to 50 pairs in 1991 (Clancy 1991). The total breeding increased to an estimated 100 pairs by 1996 (Clancy 2006). Surveys conducted in 1997–1999 located at least 40 pairs from Grassy Head to Old Bar alone (Bischoff 2001).

The Australian population of the Eastern Osprey is considered to have increased in size in recent years (Olsen 1998). This increase can be attributed to a recent increase in population numbers and range in NSW (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 2006; Olsen 1998).

The Eastern Osprey does not undergo extreme natural fluctuations in population size, extent of occurrence or area of occupancy.

The generation length of the Eastern Osprey is unknown, but may be in the order of ten to fifteen years, as estimated for other Falconiformes species in Australia (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

A lack of information on most populations in Australia makes it impossible to rank populations by importance.

The Eastern Osprey is not documented to cross-breed with any other species.

The Eastern Osprey has been recorded in coastal areas around much of Australia. The species therefore may potentially occur in a large number of conservation reserves.

Eastern Ospreys occur in littoral and coastal habitats and terrestrial wetlands of tropical and temperate Australia and offshore islands. They are mostly found in coastal areas but occasionally travel inland along major rivers, particularly in northern Australia (Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995). They require extensive areas of open fresh, brackish or saline water for foraging (Marchant & Higgins 1993). They frequent a variety of wetland habitats including inshore waters, reefs, bays, coastal cliffs, beaches, estuaries, mangrove swamps, broad rivers, reservoirs and large lakes and waterholes (Czechura 1985; Domm 1977; Fleming 1987; Gosper 1983; Gosper & Holmes 2002; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Olsen 1995; Roberts & Ingram 1976). They exhibit a preference for coastal cliffs and elevated islands in some parts of their range (Boekel 1976; Domm 1977), but may also occur on low sandy, muddy or rocky shores and over coral cays (Marchant & Higgins 1993). They may occur over atypical habitats such as heath, woodland or forest when travelling to and from foraging sites (Czechura 1985; Hembrow 1988; Pruett-Jones & O'Donnell 2004; Roberts & Ingram 1976).

Eastern Ospreys occur sympatrically and sometimes interact with White-bellied Sea-Eagles (Barrett et al. 2003; Clancy 2006; Dennis & Baxter 2006; Kennard & Kennard 2006), which is also listed as Marine and Migratory under the EPBC Act.

The age of first breeding in Eastern Ospreys varies between the sexes. On Kangaroo Island, two females first bred at less than two and three years of age, and six males first bred at four to eight years of age (Dennis 2007b). South Australian Eastern Ospreys have been recorded to live to at least 22 years of age (Dennis 2007b). Longer life spans are possible, given that individuals up to 25 years of age have been recorded amongst breeding populations of ospreys in North America (Spitzer 1980).

Eastern Ospreys typically breed in monogamous pairs (Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995). There is a single published record of polyandrous breeding in Australia (Dennis 2007b). Polygamous breeding is more common in osprey populations overseas, perhaps because breeding territories in Australia tend to be widely dispersed (Olsen 1995).

The Eastern Osprey breeds from April to February in Australia. Breeding seasons of individual pairs vary according to latitude, with breeding commencing progressively later on a cline from north to south (Clancy 2006; Dennis 2007b; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 2000; Olsen 1995; Olsen & Marples 1993; Rose 2000c).

Eastern Osprey nests vary in size and shape but they are generally large and are mostly composed of sticks (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 2006; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Rose 2000c). They are constructed in a variety of natural and artificial sites including in dead or partly dead trees or bushes; on cliffs, rocks, rock stacks or islets; on the ground on rocky headlands, coral cays, deserted beaches, sandhills or saltmarshes; and on artificial nest platforms, pylons, jetties, lighthouses, navigation towers, cranes, exposed shipwrecks and offshore drilling rigs (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 2006; Dennis 2007a; Dennis & Baxter 2006; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995; Rose 2000c). Nest sites may be used over many years by one or more pairs (Dennis 2007a, 2007b; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Rose 2000c).

Females lay clutches of one to four (but typically two or three) eggs (Hollands 2003; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995). The eggs are white to buff with brownish (and sometimes also underlying purple or grey) spots and blotches (Hollands 2003; Johnstone & Storr 1998; North 1912). They are incubated by both sexes, but mainly by the female, for a period of 33–38 days (Clancy 2006; Hollands 2003; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Rose 2000c).

The nestlings are brooded by the female and by the male when the female is absent from the nest. To begin with they are mainly fed by the female on food delivered by the male, but later both parents gather and supply food (Hollands 2003; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Rose 2000c). The young fledge approximately seven to eleven weeks after hatching (Dennis 2007b; Holsworth 1965; Kennard & Kennard 2007; Maciejewski 1993; Rose 2000c) but continue to return to the nest for some time thereafter to be fed. The period of post-fledging dependence is not precisely known, but reports suggest that it probably ranges from about one to two months in duration (Dennis 2007b; Hollands 2003; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Rose 2000c). Pairs usually rear one brood but are capable of rearing two broods per season (Clancy 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993). Pairs tend not to breed each year; breeding attempts may be separated by periods of up to three years (Dennis 2007a).

Rates of breeding success have been calculated at several locations in Australia. In the Clarence Valley, NSW, of 15 breeding attempts from 1992–1996, nine (60%) produced at least one fledgling; 17 fledglings were reared in total; equal to 1.1 fledglings per breeding attempt (Clancy 2006). On the mid-northern coast of NSW (Taree to Kempsey), of 86 breeding attempts from 1997–1999, 57 (66%) produced at least one fledgling; 78 fledglings were reared in total; equal to 0.9 fledglings per breeding attempt (Bischoff 2001). At Forster, NSW, birds at one breeding site reared a total of seven fledglings over seven breeding seasons, equal to one fledgling per season (Rose 2000c). At Kangaroo Island, South Australia, of 103 active territories observed between 1985 and 2004, 62 (60%) produced at least one fledgling; 95 fledglings were reared in total; equal to 0.92 fledglings per territory per year (Dennis 2007b). On Rottnest Island, Western Australia, of 27 eggs laid from 1961–1963, 15 (55.5%) produced fledglings (Holsworth 1965).

In Australia, Eastern Ospreys mainly feed on fish, especially mullet where available, and rarely take molluscs, crustaceans, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals (Clancy 1989, 2005a; Johnstone & Storr 1998; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995; Rose 2000c; Saunders & de Rebeira 1985; Smith 1985).

Eastern Ospreys usually forage diurnally, but have also been observed hunting prey at night (Hollands 2003). They generally search for prey by soaring, quartering or circling above a body of water and scanning below for fish. They occasionally search for prey by scanning from a perch. When a prey item is located while soaring or circling, they hover momentarily and then dive down, sometimes in stages, before snatching prey from the near the surface with the feet or by plunging into the water feet first. When a prey item is located from a perch, they align themselves in the direction of their target and then alight and dive down directly into the water at their target (Clancy 1991, 2005b; Cupper & Cupper 1981; Hollands 2003; Olsen 1995). When attacking aquatic targets, Eastern Ospreys may submerge completely to a depth of about one metre (Cupper & Cupper 1981; Olsen 1995). Eastern Ospreys have also been observed snatching birds in flight (Mooney 1987). Captured prey items are carried to a feeding perch for consumption (Olsen 1995).

Adult Eastern Ospreys are mostly resident or sedentary around breeding territories. They forage more widely but continue to make at least intermittent visits to their breeding grounds in the non-breeding season (Dennis 1987; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Olsen 1995). Some dispersal is evident including apparent movement along the Murray River (Blakers et al. 1984) and extensions of range in north-western Western Australia and north-eastern Queensland in autumn; and an apparent extension of range inland in north-western Queensland in winter (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Absence of the species from some offshore islands in the non-breeding season (Domm 1977; Saunders & de Rebeira 1985); and records of single birds in central Australia between May and December during years of average or above-average rainfall, when fish are abundant in inland waterways (Fleming 1987; Wilson & Wilson 1988) also occur. These movements may represent dispersal by young birds (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Young birds may disperse more than 700 km from their natal territories, but many return to their natal areas to breed (Clancy 2001, 2006; Olsen 1995).

Eastern Ospreys occupy large territories that are used for breeding and at least some foraging (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Territories are attended throughout the year although visits may be only intermittent in the non-breeding (Bischoff 2001; Dennis 1987; Holsworth 1965; Kennard & Kennard 2006). Defence of territories begins about one month prior to laying (Holsworth 1965). The core area around the nest to a radius of approximately 150 m is aggressively defended against other Eastern Ospreys, other raptors and potential predators of eggs and/or young (Clancy 2006; Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993; Rose 2000c). The territory beyond the core area is less strongly defended (Kennard & Kennard 2006; Marchant & Higgins 1993). Home ranges of Eastern Ospreys have not been quantified, although one breeding male was seen observed carrying prey 2.8 km from its nest site (Kennard & Kennard 2006).

The Eastern Osprey is unlikely to be mistaken for any other species by competent observers. It is plausible that inexperienced observers could confuse the Eastern Osprey and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle, which also occurs in coastal environments and possesses a white head and underparts and a dark back and upperwing. However, these species are readily distinguished by several contrasting features (including size) under inspection (Marchant & Higgins 1993).

Eastern Ospreys are conspicuous in flight and when perched (Marchant & Higgins 1993). Their nests, which may measure up to 2.0 m in diameter and 2.5 m in depth (Hollands 2003), are also conspicuous.

Eastern Ospreys can be detected directly by sight or call; or indirectly by signs of occupancy such as nests or prey remains. Eastern Ospreys should be surveyed using one or more of the following techniques (Dennis 2007a):

  • Observations from vantage points to detect birds in flight over suitable habitat.

  • Area searches on foot to detect birds or signs of occupancy in suitable habitat.

  • Transect surveys from vehicles or aircraft to detect birds or nests in large survey areas.

  • Transect surveys from boats along suitable coastal or riparian habitat.

  • Aerial surveys to detect birds or nests in large survey areas.

The current main threat to the Eastern Osprey in Australia is loss, degradation or alteration of habitat for urban or tourism development (Clancy 1989, 1991; Dennis 2007a; Olsen 1998). In the Chain of Bays region of the Eyre Penninsula, South Australia, where Ospreys nest on the ground due to the lack of trees, human disturbance is an increasing threat (Ecos 2008).

Other current but presently less pervasive threats include ingestion of prey items containing pollutants such as pesticides, heavy metals or fishing tackle; competition for food with commercial and recreational fisheries; reduced water quality at foraging grounds caused by discharge of effluent or runoff; disturbance or persecution by humans; and accidental mortality arising from collisions with powerlines (Clancy 1991, 2005a; Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005; Olsen 1995, 1998; Poole 1989).

Poisoning by organochlorine pesticides and persecution by humans are considered the likely causes of a post-settlement decline in Eastern Osprey numbers in south-eastern Australia (Clancy 1991, 2005a; Garnett 1993; Olsen 1995). The impacts of these threats have subsided in recent decades following the introduction of Commonwealth regulations to reduce non-target poisoning by organochlorine pesticides and the listing of the Eastern Osprey as a protected species under Commonwealth and state government legislation (Olsen 1995, 1998). Falkenberg et al. (1994) reported low levels of organochlorine pesticides in Eastern Ospreys in South Australia soon after regulations were introduced. Recent studies suggest that Eastern Ospreys in north-eastern NSW are not significantly affected by pesticides and do not face a shortage of food at the present time (Clancy 2005b, 2006).

The following actions or strategies have been implemented to aid the conservation of the Eastern Osprey in Australia:

  • A management plan has been prepared for the NSW population (Clancy 1991).

  • Breeding populations in South Australia and NSW have been surveyed extensively since the early 1980s (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 1989, 1991, 2006; Dennis 2007a).

  • The use of organochlorine pesticides is regulated by Commonwealth law. Many organochlorine pesticides are now prohibited in Australia.

  • The biology and ecology of the species has been studied (Bischoff 2001; Clancy 2005a, 2005b, 2006; Dennis 2007b; Rose 2000c).

  • Artificial nest platforms have been erected in South Australia (Dennis 2007b) and NSW (Bischoff 2001).

  • Aboriginal communities have been consulted to determine the significance of the Eastern Osprey to indigenous culture (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

The following actions could be implemented to aid the conservation of the Eastern Osprey:

  • Develop a management plan for the South Australian population (Dennis 2007b; Olsen 1998).

  • Conduct regular monitoring of the population in South Australia (Dennis 2007b).

  • Protect breeding habitat by establishing buffer zones around nest sites (Dennis 2007b; Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005; Olsen 1998).

  • Identify and protect foraging habitat (including feeding perches) and sites from which nest material is collected (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

  • Liaise with authorities to ensure consideration of the species and its habitat requirements in planning processes (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

  • Work with landholders to manage or translocate nests in hazardous or undesirable locations (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

  • Introduce mitigation measures to protect estuarine and foreshore habitats from pollution (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

  • Trial predator-proof artificial nest platforms and determine the effect of these on breeding productivity (Dennis 2007b).

  • Determine current levels of organochlorines and other contaminants likely to impact on the species (Dennis 2007b).

  • Increase community awareness of the species and its requirements through initiatives such as media releases, brochures and signage (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

  • Determine the success of implemented recovery actions (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2005).

There have been several published detailed studies or observations of the Eastern Osprey within Australia, including Bischoff (2001), Clancy (1989, 2005a, 2005b, 2006), Dennis (2004, 2007a, 2007b), Dennis and Baxter (2006), Kennard and Kennard (2006), and Rose (2000c).

A management plan for the Eastern Osprey population in NSW was published in 1991 (Clancy 1991).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Biological Resource Use:Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources:Illegal fishing practices and entanglement in set nets Pandion haliaetus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sd) [Internet].
Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Direct exploitation by humans including hunting Pandion haliaetus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sd) [Internet].
Pollution:Pollution:Deterioration of water and soil quality (contamination and pollution) Pandion haliaetus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sd) [Internet].
Pollution:Pollution:Pollution due to oil spills and other chemical pollutants Pandion haliaetus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sd) [Internet].
Residential and Commercial Development:Tourism and Recreation Areas:Alteration of marine and land environments associated with tourism Pandion haliaetus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006sd) [Internet].

Abbott, I. (1982). Birds recorded on 22 tropical islands of Western Australia. Corella. 6:119-122.

Barrett, G., A. Silcocks, S. Barry, R. Cunningham & R. Poulter (2003). The New Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

BirdLife International (2007k). Species factsheet: Pandion haliaetus. Viewed on 16 May 2008. [Online]. Available from:

Bischoff, T. (2001). Aspects of breeding of the Osprey Pandion haliaetus on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. Australian Bird Watcher. 19:88-93.

Blakers, M., S.J.J.F. Davies & P.N. Reilly (1984). The Atlas of Australian Birds. Melbourne, Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Boeckel, C. (1976). Australian Bird Watcher. 6:231-245.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (2008). Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Clancy, G.P. (1989). A survey of breeding Osprey Pandion haliaetus in north-eastern coastal New South Wales, 1980 to 1982. Corella. 13:9 to 14.

Clancy, G.P. (1991). The Biology and Management of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus cristatus) in NSW. Hurstville: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Clancy, G.P. (2005a). The diet of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on the north coast of New South Wales. Emu. 105:87-91.

Clancy, G.P. (2005b). Feeding behaviour of the Osprey Pandion haliaetus on the north coast of New South Wales. Corella. 29:91-96.

Clancy, G.P. (2006). The breeding biology of the Osprey Pandion haliaetus on the north coast of New South Wales. Corella. 30:1-8.

Condon, H.T. (1969). A Handlist of Birds of South Australia. Adelaide: SA Ornithologists Association.

Cupper, J. & L. Cupper (1981). Hawks in Focus: A study of Australia's Birds of Prey. Mildura, Victoria: Jaclin Enterprises.

Czechura, G.V. (1985). The raptors of the Blackall-Conondale Ranges and adjoining lowlands, south-eastern Queensland. Corella. 9:49-54.

Dennis, T.E. (1987). Behaviour of southern Ospreys. Australasian Raptor Association News. 8:44.

Dennis, T.E. (2004). Conservation status of the White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon on western Eyre Peninsula and adjacent offshore islands in South Australia. South Australian Ornithologist. 34:222-228.

Dennis, T.E. (2007a). Distribution and status of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in South Australia. Emu. 107:294-299.

Dennis, T.E. (2007b). Reproductive activity in the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Emu. 107:300-307.

Dennis, T.E. & C.I. Baxter (2006). The status of the White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Osprey on Kangaroo Island in 2005. South Australian Ornithologist. 35:47-51.

Department of Environment and Climate Change (2005). Osprey profile. Viewed on 23 May 2008. [Online]. Hurstville: NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change. Available from:

Dickinson, E.C., ed. (2003). The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Page(s) 1039. London: Christopher Helm.

Domm, S. (1977). Seabirds and waders of the Lizard Island area. Sunbird. 8:1-8.

Falkenberg, I.D., T.E. Dennis & B.D. Williams (1994). Organochlorine pesticide contamination in three species of raptor and their prey in South Australia. Wildlife Research. 21:163-173.

Ferguson-Lees, J. & D.A. Christie (2001). Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm.

Fleming, M.R. (1987). The Osprey Pandion haliaetus in central Australia. Australian Bird Watcher. 12:30-32.

Garnett, S., ed. (1993). Threatened and Extinct Birds of Australia. RAOU Report 82. Melbourne: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, and Canberra: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Pandion cristatus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:29:48 +1000.