14. Osprey

The osprey is the only bird of prey that is present every month of the year in South Carolina salt marshes. Also known as fish hawks, ospreys prey almost exclusively on fish. They catch fish with their feet by diving toward the water. Often they hover before plunging in, then flap hard to rise up out of the water and shake the water from their feathers as they fly away. After catching a fish, the osprey turns it so that its head faces forward. This reduces wind resistance and makes it somewhat easier to fly with the heavy prey. The female osprey is larger than the male and has a few dark feathers scattered on her otherwise white chest. They nest in trees and also on platforms on poles in the marsh that people put up for them. Ospreys and other fish-eating birds are more common now that the pesticide DDT has been banned in the USA. It harmed them because it was biomagnified in the food chain.

 Osprey