Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Incredible Osprey

Osprey- MDC
Dan Crane sent me this arkive.org link with footage of Osprey catching fish.  What I am sure is just business as usual for the bird is incredible to me.  The last catch shows it hauling out a fish twice its size, taking off from being completely submerged and carrying its prey in one claw!

Osprey are the only raptor that plunges into the water to catch its prey.  The fact that they can then take off, let alone with a large struggling fish is impressive.  Some of us can't always hold a fish long enough to take out the hook!  Osprey have special adaptations which allow this unique fishing style.
"The Osprey is particularly well adapted to this diet, with reversible outer toes, sharp spicules on the underside of the toes, closable nostrils to keep out water during dives, and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch." (Wikipedia)
Last fall, Mike Kromrey pointed out an Osprey flying over Valley Water Mill.  Never common breeders in Missouri, their numbers were apparently reduced even before DDT took a toll on their population.  Like other species at the top of their respective food chain, they are vulnerable to toxins accumulated in fish.  We are seeing more Osprey in recent decades due to the reduction of pesticides and the development of reservoirs. (MDC)

More general information on Osprey can be found at this natural history site.


  1. A truly beautiful hunter , the osprey , and well adapted to fishing . I would like to remind fishermen to use caution and consideration when in the vicinity . More than a few 'fish hawks' have been hooked . Let the bird have his opportunity first .

    Arkive has always been a favorite place to visit.

  2. It is truly amazing to see adaptation at work. It probably took thousands of years of trial and error for such a magnificent creature like the osprey to become the all-efficient hunting machine it is today. Simply beautiful.