(Falco Haliaėtus, Linn.—Le Balbuzzard, Buff.)
THE length of the male is twenty-two inches, the female about two feet; breadth above five: bill black, cere blue, eye yellow: crown of the head white, marked with oblong dusky spots; the cheeks, and all the under parts of the body, are white, slightly spotted with brown on the breast; from the corner of each eye a streak of dark brown extends down the sides of the neck towards the wing; the upper part of the body is brown; the two middle tail feathers the same; the others are marked on the inner webs with alternate bars of brown and white: legs very short and thick, being only two inches and a quarter long, and two inches in circumference; they are of a pale blue; claws black: outer toe larger than the inner one, and turns easily backward, by which means this bird can more readily secure its slippery prey.
Buffon observes that the Osprey is the most numerous of the large birds of prey, and is scattered over Europe, from Sweden to Greece, and that it is found even in Egypt and Nigritia. Its haunts are on the sea shore, and on the borders of rivers and lakes: its principal food is fish; it darts upon its prey with great rapidity, and undeviating aim. The Italians compare its descent upon the water to a piece of lead falling upon that element, and distinguish it by the name of Aquila Piumbina, or the Leaden Eagle. It builds its nest on the ground, among reeds, and lays three or four eggs, of an elliptical form, rather less than those of a hen. The Carolina and Cayenne Ospreys are varieties of this species.
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