Fam­i­lies of one

Bird Watching (UK) - - Meet The Family -

Fi­nally, there are some fa­mil­iar UK species that don’t re­ally need equiv­a­lents else­where in the world, be­cause they’re found pretty much wher­ever you go. The Osprey is the prime ex­am­ple. It’s the sole mem­ber of the genus Pan­dion, which it­self is the only mem­ber of the fam­ily Pan­dion­idae, and although there are four sub­species, there’s on­go­ing ar­gu­ment about how dis­tinct these are, with some au­thor­i­ties go­ing as far as to recog­nise two dif­fer­ent full species (Eastern and West­ern Osprey), and oth­ers recog­nis­ing just two sub­species. Ospreys are found pretty much ev­ery­where out­side Antarc­tica, de­pend­ing on the time of year – these birds need a tem­per­ate cli­mate and ice-free wa­ter to breed suc­cess­fully, but they win­ter largely in trop­i­cal re­gions and might be seen any­where in-be­tween on their mi­gra­tions, so it’s worth look­ing out for them. An­other rap­tor, the Pere­grine, is sim­i­larly far-flung in its dis­tri­bu­tion, be­ing found across the globe in 19 sub­species, although in some ar­eas it is re­placed by mem­bers of the hi­ero­fal­con sub-genus – Lan­ner, Lag­gar, Saker and Gyr Fal­cons. The is­sue with Pere­grines is also com­pli­cated by birds de­scended from fal­con­ers’ hy­brids – Pere­grines can be crossed with all those four species above, and the pop­u­la­tion in the eastern USA was reestab­lished us­ing fal­con­ers’ birds, so its lin­eage is com­pli­cated. Other UK species with a pretty much world­wide dis­tri­bu­tion in­clude Barn Owl, (Black-crowned) Night Heron, a va­grant here but ex­pected to breed soon, and Black-winged Stilt, now breed­ing here, and found across the globe, although its five sub­species are some­times re­garded as full species.

FAR-FLUNG Ospreys can be seen catch­ing fish pretty much the world over

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