October 3 2016


The Eastern Osprey and the Garfish

The eastern osprey is a medium-size raptor that inhabits most coastal areas and off-shore islands in Australia, including our very own Rottnest Island. This majestic bird is identified by its strongly hooked beak, very powerful legs and impressive wingspan of 1.5 metres. 

Similar to the Swan and Bald Eagle, the osprey remains with the same mate for life. Their nests, also referred to as stacks, are some of the largest and most durable natural structures in Australia. Like their mates, osprey’s are also true to their nests, using the same stack year after year and adding to it continually. Rottnest Island hosts many osprey nests, some of which are known to be over an incredible 70 years old!  You can spot these impressive structures when travelling out to West End and checking out Fish Hook Bay. 


The osprey’s diet is made up almost entirely of fish. They have amazing vision which allows them to spot fish from up to 40 metres above the water. If you’re lucky enough when you’re at Rottnest Island, you might spot an osprey searching for a feed. If they begin to hover above the water, be sure to keep watching as it means they have prey in sight. In the blink of an eye, the osprey will plunge feet first onto the water and snatch a fish with its talons. 

Garfish are often the fish of choice for many seabirds. Garfish have a tendency to swim on the surface of the water, and as a result are an easy target for the osprey. Usually, osprey will take fish weighing anywhere up to 300 grams, however recently on Rottnest Island, a particularly hungry osprey was spotted snagging this rather large garfish. 


Rottnest Island is a haven for many bird species and a great place for bird watching. If you’re interested in checking out the osprey, or any of the other bird species found on Rottnest Island, check out our website for more information by visiting

Please remember that Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve renowned for its high conservation and community values. All plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife shouldn’t be disturbed and we encourage you to observe from a reasonable distance. Please enjoy these natural wonders during your visit and appreciate the need to conserve this island paradise for future generations to enjoy!

- The Rottnest Island Team