Roine Strandberg has been kind enough to comment on the Osprey seen on the 16th of september in Norðskála. He is the author of the article “Ageing, sexing and subspecific identification of Osprey, and two WP records of American Osprey” in the magazine Dutch Birding (nr 35, 2013). You can read his comments below.
I have been looking at the pictures of the adult Osprey and the following is my personal conclusion:
To begin with I was a bit fast to claim it as a male, as it is a very heavy-looking bird, but after examine it in detail I still believe it is a male. The jizz is odd as the bird has an unusual filled up crop and also the belly is very pronounced for a male but probably it is because it has been eating a lot recently!
Note for male: rather proportionally wings to body ratio, a short tail and relatively small head and feet. Furthermore, a lack of breast band in combination with a few sparse spots to the central secondary coverts field and unbarred greater primary coverts.
The most striking characters that I believe indicate ssp. carolinensis are:
- Large blackish carpal patch including median coverts in combination with a very pale primary field (greater coverts and primaries). Some males of ssp. haliaetus show as big carpal patch but it is extremely rare with no white feathers to the median coverts, if at all occurring?! Very dark carpal patched ssp. haliaetus males commonly show prominent barring to greater primary coverts.
- Plain underwing coverts (with or without a few central spots) is equal between subspecies, but the dark centres of outermost median coverts is most often completely or partly concealed in ssp. haliaetus. The Faroes bird show obvious dark centres (compare with both subspecies below).
- The bird seems to lack breast band which is extremely rare in ssp. haliaetus (I haven’t found one pictured bird without any brownish wash to the breast).
In conclusion I believe that it would be a really low odds coincidence that an Osprey with the field characters shown by the male recorded at Faroes Islands in autumn during strong westerly winds is a ssp. haliaetus with a very rare set of characters. I am pretty convinced the bird is an American Osprey. Nevertheless, it maybe best to claim it as just showing characters for the subspecies and hope future knowledge in the subject render a safer identification as the pictures leave a lot of question marks because of the quality and the angle of the bird flying away from the observer.
All the best,