Ospreys. If you live in Florida chances are more than good that you have seen an Osprey. They hang out on lightpoles, can be seen near bridges over water, and regularly find reason to nest in neighborhoods.
I have three pairs in my neighborhood, and had the great pleasure of watching the antics (read soap opera storyline) of their interaction with the other Osprey. Sadly, their nest was blown down in a rain event we had. Before that I watched as the male from another pair regularly tried to sneak in on the female. One time he got caught and that was really something… A lot of Osprey screams and wing flapping.
Ospreys, while common now in Florida, still aren’t recovered in other places and are protected by federal and state law. They recently earned the title of state bird, usurping the ever deserving mockingbird from it’s throne.
Although it’s not 100% accurate you can sometimes distinguish gender by looking at the size and markings. Females are generally larger and have more brown on their chests. Males are slightly smaller and usually exhibit a very white chest. Juveniles have a very brown color and can sometimes look streaky. Some Osprey are banded.
While there have been several studies on them I have one picture of a banded bird I haven’t been able to trace to a researcher yet.
The one pictured here is probably a male and was taken in West Cocoa, Florida.