The osprey has a white head with mottling on the crown; there is a heavy black bar extending through the eyes, which are yellow. The back and the upper surface of the wings are dark brown in the adult but slightly paler in juveniles.
The underside of the body is white with buff coloured streaks on the upper breast. These are more visible on the female bird. The tail is white with narrow dark bands, The underside of the wings is pale grey with bars overall. There is a black stripe running the length of the wing and a heavy black area on the leading edge at the 'wrist'. The tips of primary feathers are also black. The wingspan is approximately 5 feet (150cm) and body length 2 feet (60cm) with the male being slightly smaller than the female.
The osprey's diet is almost exclusively live fish, both fresh and salt water varieties. It catches fish swimming close to the surface by plunge diving with its tallons extended in front.
Ospreys' nests are large platforms of branches and twigs built high up in tall trees. In some areas, artificial nests have been built on high platforms, within protected areas, with the aim of persuading osprey to 'adopt' them and breed where they can be protected and monitored.
Where to see it:
The most likely place to see ospreys is hunting over large areas of water where there is a plentiful supply of fish. Osprey have been reported nesting near Gartocharn and diving for fish over Loch Lomond.
The area around Loch Garten has been declared a bird reserve, and measures are in place to protect the trees here and in other locations where the Osprey nest.
Managers of fish farms are being persuaded to allow a small amount of predation by Ospreys and this, combined with other measures, is permitting the Osprey a slow, but definite, recovery in numbers. At present there are thought to be around 200 breeding pairs in Scotland