Ospreys have few natural enemies. If the eggs and the young, sometimes even adults, especially incubating females,are victims of predation,they are snatched from their nests by owls, under the cover of darkness. Eagles are another avian threat to osprey. Osprey and Eagles do not get along.
Even though ospreys, especially the males, fiercely defend their nests, a determined raccoon, fox, skunk or similar land predator might raid the nest to steal eggs or chicks. Ospreys tend to avoid these perils by building their nests on isolated spots such as islands, secluded trees, or on top of man-made structures such as The Taj Mahal.
The male osprey is a formidable predator, himself. He is a very large raptor, a bird of prey, with an average body length of two feet and a wingspan of over six feet. His sharp hooked, cycle shaped, beak easily tears flesh from his adversaries, not to mention razor sharp talons with death grip strength.
Before the presence of industrial humankind, Ospreys were widespread and abundant. However, the presence of guns, chain saws, toxic chemicals, synthetic fish nets and other modern products have brought harm to the osprey’s environment. All-in-all, however, ospreys have survived recent ecosystem changes fairly well.
Being fish eaters, they were one of the many species that were affected by the use of the pesticide DDT. Egg shells of the osprey became thin and weak, and reproduction was essentially extinguished. A ban on the use of this chemical in the United States led to a resurgence in osprey populations. Although the threat is gone in the U.S. and Canada, DDT is still used in other developing countries like Venezuela, and residues continue to be present in osprey tissues today.
Other threats include power lines, gunshots, and other forms of poisoning. Polluted lakes, rivers, and streams, and the loss of forested habitat along major waterways are additional threats.
Eagles worldwide are the main competitors of ospreys for the ecological niche of an aerial, diurnal, fish-eating, raptor. Different eagles compete with ospreys in different parts of the world. These eagles often rob ospreys of their catch and might also drive them off good foraging and nesting areas, or kill their young. The speckled appearance of osprey chicks camouflages them in the nest and may be an adaptation to minimize predation by diurnal avian predators like the bald eagle.