Osprey Pandion haliaetus, adult female landing at eyrie with moss


In the past, shooting and nest destruction were some of the main threats.

Main threats

Migrant birds are still regularly shot in southern Europe, although British ospreys migrate through Spain where they are at less risk than in some other countries.

Contamination of birds with mercury and organochlorine pesticides, and entanglement in fishing line occur, but cooperation with anglers has reduced the latter problem significantly.

Ospreys are surprisingly tolerant of regular activity, such as passing vehicles, but they are extremely nervous of unusual activity, and hence there can be a risk of a nest being deserted following disturbance, both intentional and accidental.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus, fishing at dawn at Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Protecting the osprey

The osprey is listed on the Amber List of UK birds of conservation concern because of the long-term population decline and since it is a rare breeding bird in the UK.

Conservation action is aimed at increasing the osprey population and range in the UK. This will require the general land use policies for currently occupied habitat to include a provision for ospreys and ensure that key feeding and nesting requirements are not compromised. A number of organisations provide artificial nest sites in strategic locations to encourage range expansion.

Protection of the foraging habitat is most effective through coastal zone and estuary management plans, and integrated management of river catchments. Protection of nesting birds from illegal human interference is another priority.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus, adult male off-duty perch early morning